Few things on a residential property are as offensive to the eyes — as well as the nose — as a bunch of dirty, smelly garbage cans and lids strewn across the yard. Within close proximity of your backyard barbecue, swimming pool soirée or other outdoor gathering, unsightly rubbish receptacles can ruin the mood and create a bad first impression on guests.
All the more reason to creatively camouflage these waste containers, according to the pros.
“The main reason to conceal outdoor garbage cans is simple — it improves curb appeal,” said Ana Cayeiro, an interior designer in Florida. “It’s about improving the overall beauty of your home’s exterior, which cannot happen with the eyesore of garbage cans left out on the side of your home.”
Cayeiro said three options can accomplish your concealment goal: either screen-in your cans, place them in covered storage or use live landscaping buffers to hide them.
“Outdoor privacy screen panels are a cost-effective solution,” she said, noting that many home improvement stores carry vinyl or resin screen panels in various colors and styles (like woven or trellis designs) that can be snapped together and staked into the ground with steel posts. “Or, wooden screen panels can be painted in the same color of your home’s exterior or a contrast color that complements the existing exterior paint.”
A more secure and view-proof strategy is to purchase or construct a small enclosed shed or lean-to placed alongside the house or garage. This option completely hides the cans and prevents critters from infiltrating them and winds from blowing trash across the yard.
“Ready-made, prebuilt rectangular structures have come a long way. They’re stylish and are available in many designs, materials and colors,” said Kristin Davidson, an interior designer in Texas.
Building a custom garbage can shed can be a worthwhile investment, too.
“Just be sure the structure is wide enough for at least two full-size garbage cans,” said Joshua Gillow, founder/lead designer of MasterPLAN Outdoor Living. “Choose a location with a stone or solid surface base for good drainage, and be sure the structure is well ventilated.”
Justin Krzyston, principal founder Stonehurst Construction and Design, said his preferred concealment method of choice is Mother Nature.
“Adding landscaping in the form of larger bushes is the easiest way to camouflage outdoor garbage bins. Plus, landscaping is always a good investment if you’re focused on selling your home down the road,” Krzyston said.
Gillow recommends evergreens for the job.
“You can plant taller and skinnier evergreens, such as arbs, hollies or boxwoods, which can create a natural fence to block views of garbage cans,” he said.
The best spot for a garbage can cover-up area is ideally not too far from where you take out the trash, yet not too close to windows or doors where the waste can be viewed or smelled. Avoid any spot that can be seen from the front of the house.
“Easy access is very important — if this space is too far away, tough to use or not the right size, it will soon become more of a burden than a benefit,” Gillow said. “Next to a garage exterior wall tends to be the best location, plus it provides a built-in fourth wall.”
Ronda Jackson, principal of Decor Interior Design in Los Angeles, suggests picking a location where you can hide other outdoor nuisances, as well.
“If your space allows, look for opportunities to cover other unsightly things in that area, including mechanical and air-conditioning equipment,” said Jackson.
Whatever strategy you choose, “be sure to consider the person who is taking out the garbage, not just the aesthetics,” said Cayeiro. “You want to create a concealment area with enough room for easy access to remove, maneuver and return the bulky cans to their space.”