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Eyesore in the garden: Now you see it, now you don't.

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Courtesy of Lois J. de Vries

(Read caption) Before: This propane tank must be in the front yard for ease of servicing in cold, icy weather. But it's an eyesore in the landscape. How to make it look better? Click the arrow below to see the 'after' view.

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Most homeowners deal with the necessary-but-ugly utility equipment in the garden by building a fence around the objects, or constructing a box to house them. But the only thing these “solutions” accomplish is to substitute one visual blight for another.

Large eyesores, such as a 300-gallon propane tank, 2-ton air-conditioning compressor, pool mechanicals, etc., require a magician’s talents on a grand scale; the kind of sleight-of-eye that makes the monstrosity “vanish” while still in plain sight.

The stock-in-trade of magicians who specialize in coin, card, and other sleight-of-hand tricks is to get you to look at one hand, so that you don’t notice what they’re doing with the other one.

Like the magician who performed at my brother’s recent birthday party, you can employ this craft right under the noses of garden guests, with none of them being the wiser.

The most satisfying approach is to eliminate the eyesore entirely but, as with a propane tank, that may not be practical. Our tank has to be in the front yard, in order for the delivery person to be able to access it in ice and snow from our steep, winding driveway.

How to 'hide' a propane tank

For many years, the otherwise pleasant view across my front yard lavender garden, from both the driveway and the house, came to an abrupt halt at that ugly utilitarian object --- a nine-foot-long by three-foot-diameter puice cylinder that we called “the yellow submarine” long after I had painted it brown to try to make it blend in.

Something had to be done. I discovered that it would cost less than $200 to move: $50 for a permit; $40 for two trenching tools; and $106 for the propane company to send two installers and a boom truck to swap out the old tank for a new one.

By moving the tank back just 10 feet, but out of constant view from the living room/office window, we reduced my level of irritation with it by at least 75 percent.

I quickly dubbed the new white version “Moby Dick." Poor Moby still loomed large as he floated above the landscape, accosting our aesthetic sensibilities every time we drove in, or gardened in the front yard.

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