Friday, August 22, 2008

Eyesores in the Garden

The pleasant view across my front yard lavender garden comes to an abrupt halt at an ugly utilitarian object --- a 300 gallon horizontal propane tank. The only comfort I can take is that, since I painted it brown, it is somewhat less ugly than its original puice, the reason we still refer to it as “the yellow submarine.”

This hideous blot on the otherwise pleasing view supplies us with gas to cook our food and keeps us snug and warm in the winter. It was originally placed to one side of the front yard because our north-facing driveway is treacherous in winter and difficult for the delivery truck to negotiate. It could not be moved back any further because of trees and a precipitous ledge behind it. The trees were taken down, but the ledge remains.

Its location right outside the window is a constant irritant and it continues to be the one functional object for which we have not found a landscaping solution. Last summer, we looked into leveling off the ground in order to move the tank farther back and found that it would be prohibitively expensive, so we’re still searching for another way.

We’ve discussed faux sheds, full sheds, screening fences, low rock walls, screening plants, vines, creating a faux animal shape (what North American animal is nine feet long but only three feet tall?), ruins, follies, artistic painting, etc. Few of these alternatives address the issue of the overview of this monstrosity from the window and most would call more attention to it. Some of them would look silly because of the scale and location in the yard.

We can neither move nor eliminate our eyesore, so the answer seems to be some type of screening that hasn’t yet occurred to us, or creating a distraction. Right now we are leaning toward putting a tall arbor behind it that would create a framed view of the lake across the way in winter and a vertical display of climbing roses or other vines when the trees are leafed out. For this strategy to work, Dan will have to extend the deer fence or the vines won’t survive. We would also need to address problems associated with building such a structure on the ledge. However, even this does not resolve the view from the window.

The tank will be scraped and repainted soon, but it will still be an eyesore. Any suggestions?


Nan Ondra said...

You probably won't find this amusing, Lois, since you have to live with the tank, but my first reaction was that it's kind of interesting-looking and that maybe you could find a way to have fun with it. (How about painting it bright yellow and surrounding it with blue foliage to play off of the Yellow Submarine theme?) But I'm guessing that you don't want to go that route, which requires some other suggestion. Would it be possible to plant tall grasses, such as 'Cloud Nine' or 'Dallas Blues' switch grass, between the lavenders and the tank? Both selections get about 7 feet tall for me, and they hold up well through the winter too. You'd still have to deal with the view for a few months after the spring cut-down, though.

Jean said...

Wow Lois, what a challenge. I wonder if you painted it black if it would recede into the background more? Black seems to disappear in the landscape. I like the grasses you have in front now so maybe there's some taller ones that might work? They should do the trick for most of the year except for early spring perhaps. Just some thoughts and I hope they were helpful!

A J Morris said...

I like Jeans idea but took it a step further -- what you really need is to paint it camouflage -- stripes of black with lighter and darker tans and browns in irregular splotches but tending toward vertical to correspond to the shadows and light.

Meadowwood Garden said...

All the propane tanks around here seem to be white and fully exposed, so you are at least a bit better off than that already! My first thought upon seeing the photos was camouflage, so I agree with AJ. The trees behind it are vertical, so maybe use that as your cue to paint it in some way that can sort of blend it in better.


Chookie said...

I'd take a different route. I'd plant a loose hedge in front of it (something with dark green leaves that tends to the plumy, to break up the outline), then put something fairly stunning as a focal point in the foreground. OTOH a fantasy Yellow Sub garden could be great fun. Good luck with dealing with the tank!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You will find something that will tickle your fancy and hide that tank when you get around to read all the trellis and screening ideas this month.

I see a screen built and vines growing on it to hide the tank. Good luck.

John K said...

I have to agree with the camouflage idea. Black, green & brown vertical stripes on the whole tank. Then you might even add some random pale green stripes from the bottom of the tank to approx half way up to represent grass. Seems like a cost-effective solution, a lot less work and it should last a long time.
John K

ScottOlson said...

How about painting it with a faux-garden scene?

Anonymous said...

Make it a hippotamus!