Trash Can Enclosure

For those of us who are not blessed with a garage in which to store our refuse until “garbage day,” there is the problem of how to hide, or disguise, these unattractive, utilitarian objects for the other six days of the week. Whether you call them trash cans, garbage cans, or dust bins, it’s not as if they can be placed in the center of the lawn with a flower pot on top and be made into a focal point.

Recently, I saw this simple, inexpensive, and elegant solution: The trash can enclosure is built in as a seamless extension of the fence. Stockade fencing runs the length of the common property line. A simple bumpout of shorter fencing (either purchased or trimmed down from the perimeter fence) is equipped with a latch and two hinges. Matching sides, barely deeper than the cans themselves, are fixed to two uprights already in place for the perimeter fence. The trash cans are placed on a bed of gravel, which if underlain by landscape cloth, will keep weeds at a minimum.

Many times I’ve seen enclosures like this stick out like a sore thumb, but that is because they are plunked down in the middle of nowhere, usually on the lawn. This one works because it is indistinguishable from the fence behind it. In fact, I had already walked past it twice and was just stepping out onto the sidewalk when I suddenly realized what it was.

Visual deception is a legitimate technique and is used in gardening all the time, such as when forced perspective of plants, ornaments, or structures is used to make a space read larger than it is. So, if you have something really ugly in your yard, try hiding it in plain sight --- just use a little camouflage.

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