Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Tell The Truth Tuesday -- Waste Bins

Do you have a specific area of your garden set aside where you keep your waste bins? How do you keep them separate from your garden? How do you keep anyone touring your garden from seeing them or noticing them?

Our waste bins are huge and therefore hard to miss. We have a gray bin for recyclables, and two big bright blue bins for yard waste, as well as a smaller green bin for trash. We used to put the trash out in bins without wheels, but a couple of years ago the company that handles our disposal service decided to give us a bin specially designed to be picked up by the hydraulic arm on the truck, which meant they no longer needed to employ two guys on the truck, one to drive it and another to tip the bins into the back. As a result I have a couple of extra waste bins that just kind of hang around in the bin area. Some day I'll do something with them but for now, they just take up space.

When you first approach the left hand (north side) of the house, you don't immediately see the plethora of bins.  They're hidden behind a small section of fence with some large pots (and weeds) in front of it. This is in the same general area as the gravel garden which I profiled in a previous TtTT post, which you can read here.

As you face these pots and section of fence, the gravel garden is directly to the left

The pot currently contains a lot of hens and chicks and the rotted-off tall stalk from a Yucca aloifolia purpurea, which has sent up at least one offset. I need to do something with this pot, but maybe that's a question for another post

Here's what you see beyond that section of fence -- bins, some trash that won't actually fit into our current trash bin and our enormous air conditioner/heat pump

Another view of the area -- hard-to-ignore, ugly bins

Beyond the heat pump is the gas meter, and then a pile of garden ornaments, which I'd like to some day put up on that enormous blank north side of the house in the probably vain hope that it might distract people from the view below

What do you think? Would this big blank wall be more interesting if I hung some garden art on it?

I plan to use the pile of bricks to finish the path I'm putting in the back garden. And the unused trellis might work to screen the heat pump from view in some way, hopefully without compromising its air flow. Once I get all that stuff off the ground and hanging on the house, I'd like to do something gardeny there. More big pots? Raised beds? It's dark territory, the north side of the house. I don't know if it ever sees the sun, even in summer.

There is room in that area beyond the section of fence for our two big blue yard waste bins, but they seldom live there. They're in use almost constantly, and get carted around the garden and often left in situ. Actually, right now, I'm trying to use them to keep deer from walking through a bed that I planted up in the fall.

Blue yard waste bins guarding the front foundation bed from deer

Here's the same view from the other direction -- if you look closely beyond, you can see I still have snow banks lining my driveway

Deer hoofprints

The deer never seem to eat anything, they just use my front garden as a short-cut.

Do you hide your bins in some clever way? Do you have any advice for me? Do you have other ugliness to share with us today? Keep your garden coverage honest and tell us all about the horrors lurking in your garden.


  1. Thank goodness for those big ugly yard waste bins on wheels, they're so handy to have. Ours sit in the alley behind the greenhouse/garage out of sight and the trucks pick them up there. I like your idea of hanging yard art on that big blank wall. How about painting a mural on the whole thing? Maybe a trompe l'oeil of a garden with your path continuing into the wall. There's that guy who is usually at the NFGF who does that sort of thing and his rates are quite reasonable. How about incorporating your yard art in a large mosaic on the wall using glass and broken ceramic stuff? Could you have your fence guy build a corral for the bins and AC/heat pump thing? It could match your fence or could be painted to match the house.

  2. I love all of Peter's suggestions! His good like that.
    If it's any consolation, every home on the block has the those containers; all are ugly, most are exposed. I wonder if the old ones, without the wheels, can be used for composting.

  3. Like them or not, we all have them! The alternative is uglier, as I learned when a neighbor in my old house didn't have garbage service and would burn his trash. He'd get a permit calling it a "luau," and then the fire department wouldn't come and investigate the smoke, smell, and huge flames! In a tiny backyard...

    In that neighborhood we had to keep them back from the street at least equal to the garage or house line.

    I have a usually unused carport area, with a short chain link gate where it opens, and a cedar fence on the rest of the front, the side and back (house the fourth side). I keep my cans in there. The garden is in the back, so if anyone were to "tour" (hahaha!) my garden they wouldn't see them.

    But, as I said, we all have them. Like a toilet. We know everyone has them, and uses them, and while we may not want to see them, we are glad to have them when we need them. Or something like that. I only notice them if neighbors have them on the street days after a pickup! Not everyone in my neighborhood has the big ones for green trash, not all the lots have big yards. I do, lucky me!

    Garden art sounds great for that wall.

  4. Why do they have to make those bins such freakishly bright and artificially colored? If I was in charge they would be natural "blend in" colors. Grrr. Most of my neighbors are good about pulling there's in after pickup, but of course the people right next to us, not so much. How can you not be embarrassed when driving down the street and yours is the only house with bins out six days after pick up? Oh, and since we can't park in our garage (too small, and its full of gardening stuff anyway) that's where our bins go. Out of sight.

  5. I have 5 huge bins and they're all too prominently displayed next to the garage. They show up at least peripherally in many of the photos I take of the front garden, particularly the wide shots. I've considered screening but there's nothing that I can do with them that won't end up annoying my husband and I every time we use them, which is daily, so I've tried to accept them. I captured photos of an ugly area today and, if I can get my act together later, I may have another late edition of TTTT.

  6. The recycle bin lives in our garage. The two yard waste bins and the garbage bin live on the back outside wall of the garage, along with the heat pump, two garbage can type potting soil bins, and the potting bench, with old tools as decor on the wall. I don't consider it ugly. Bins are part of gardening.

  7. You have a great little fence screen though! First photo. That does a lot to screen from the “curb appeal” deal. Can people see in from the side a lot? Once in the side yard...looks like normal detritus. (Looks pretty good, actually!). I have a huge, out-of-scale, dominating wall like that too. I should put that in a TTTT. I love the idea of a mural.

    1. P.S. - 1) I am so distracted by your intriguing and wicked side bar. 2) Your deer don’t eat things???

  8. Our bins are in the alley on the other side of the back fence. It's a picket fence, so you could see the bins through the fence were it not for the great big Yew we have growing on our side of the fence. I'm in the process of taking down the Yew, though. They will be replaced with Red Osier Dogwood, but it might be a while before the bins are hidden again.

  9. I came up with and had constructed a place for the bins after the supposedly trained licensed professional landscape architect neglected to design a place for them. Grrr.

    Yes that wall looks like a good place to hang some stuff. I guess in your climate a north facing wall is a cold place; here it would be a refuge from summer heat.


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