31 answers

Sunny Area in backyard...what to Do?

Hi guys!

I have a VERY sunny backyard (almost NO shade at all) & in the back right corner we have a transformer. I want to plant something (tropical maybe?) in front & on the side of it to hide the hideous thing! I'm a novice gardener & just don't have any idea of the growing patterns/heights of different plants out there that I could use. I would appreciate any & all help! Thanks so much everyone!

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Palms are nice and provide some shade with not pokie things for the kids you care for daily.


try a pregnancy plant or a vanilla bean plant. Both like a lot of sun, grow tall and will multiply.

Hi C.,

We had that problem and I bought two fake rocks from Plow and Hearth on-line. (We have two unsightly items to cover up). You can buy medium or large and they actually look real but are very light weight. Somewhat more pricey than plants, but then again, I haven't had to worry about it for 5+ years. I did plant some reddish ornamental grasses in front of the "rocks" for color (they do great with little water and full sun). Hope this helps.

More Answers


I can't think of anything tropical that would hide a transformer well except maybe a fan palm. I planted bushes around my transformer called eleagnus (not sure if I spelled it correctly). It forms a nice thick bush with pretty silvery leaves. Also ligustrums make a good bush to hide something just make sure you trim it once in a while or it will get really tall. Make sure you water them often when you first plant them. Hope this helps!

L. S.

ck this site out.

depending on the dimensions of the thing, your soil, etc, call natural gardener and ask them. ###-###-####. Or look online and find what suits it best. Fan palms get huge and are gorgeous, but the trunk isn't huge and the palm leaves end up high. Wax leaf myrtle grows fast, gets big and bushy, is a good screen. I just put up an eastern red cedar for a screen. Gets huge.

I recommend Red-Leaf Photinia. It is a shrub that LOVES full sun and grows quite tall (15' to 20', but you can trim it into a hedge at any height that you like.) Some people on the web seem to discredit it saying it is subject to mildew, but I have had hedges of Red -Leaf Photinia in three of my homes and always LOVED it. Mine was in full sun, and grew very dense, tall and provided the most spectacular color I could imagine. Search out different varieties of photinia on the web or see it at your local nursery.

Good luck,

Hebrews 1:2

I would maybe plant a banana tree. They grow pretty fast and get big and wide. A good shady tree.

Plumbago is a good plant that you could put there, it doesn't require a lot of care and with watering can grow about 4 feet tall. It is a "bush" and produces these beautiful soft blue flowers. Happy gardening!!

To hide the transformer you can plant an Angel Trumpet. It grows to be about 5 ft tall and about 4 - 5 ft wide. It's pretty easy to take care of. When you've had the last of your warm weather you cut it down to the ground and then when the weather starts warming up it will start growing back on it's own. When you cut it you can replant what you've cut off and you'll have a whole new tree when then warm weather comes back. I have 2 in my yard and usually hand out pieces when I cut it. To help with shade Hackberry trees are really good. They Grow fast and just about anywhere. They are basically a very large weed and you usually see them growing near fences and near the house because birds will eat the seeds and then can't digest them and wherever the seed falls is where you'll eventually have a tree if you don't pull it out when it's small. I have 4 HUGE ones in my yard that shade almost my whole backyard. Pulling the small ones is worth having the shade in the backyard on the hot days.

Plumeria (the flowers make the lays) need full sun. Sega plants LOVE full sun and you can trim them to keep them in control... they can look like a water fountain... mexican heather i think is good in the sun as well as the lantana... hibiscus do great and you can keep them also trimmed as low as you like or you can let them grow any heighth and keep them any heighth. Bouganvilla (splg?) is great but has some thorns... this one can be trimmed and has beautiful flowers all spring and summer... the flowers are on the tips and so if you trim them the flowers go away until it grows again. it looks best if you can just let it grow free -- it will have long tendrils... but don't be afraid to trim it and this plant does better if you don't water it!!! In Greece they tack the tendrils along the walls and the flowers are all on the tips... they are clusters of flowers. Call me if you like and we can talk more. oh and I forgot the Split Leaf Philadendrum (splg) tropical and airy and really big leaves... also the Iron plant or Varigated or regular Ginger plant.... both of those are lovely.

Hey C.,

As long as you don't have any pets that would eat it....Oleander works great. It comes in several differant colors and grows very quickly. It is drought tolerant as well. It is the plant you see growing on the median on your way to Galveston. I never water ours and it has grown as tall as the house over the last 8 yrs.

Hi C.,
Please go native with your choices. Two that come to mind are:
Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon holly) - forms a small tree, is native to area and enjoys this climate, is bird friendly and Sophora segundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) is shrub or small tree in form, has wonderfully scented blooms in spring. You can find images of these and many more if you go to wildflower center web site, click on Explore plants,then recommended species. There is a wealth of info there and pictures to help you make your selection. R. C

try a pregnancy plant or a vanilla bean plant. Both like a lot of sun, grow tall and will multiply.

Check out a tropical plant called the "Petra Croton". I just got some myself. They are a non-flowering plant, but they are gorgeous with green, yellow, orange and red colored waxy leaves.
They grow 2'-4', love the sun, and need moist soil. Since you are doing it around a transformer, I would recommend putting them in big round planters. Most cities do not allow things that cannot be moved to be placed near stuff like that.

Maybe plant a few small citrus trees.....then the kids would be able to pick their own fruit.

I would suggest that you NOT put a bouganvillea or oleanders. The oleanders are poisonous if ingested and the bouganvillea are fast growers but they have very large thorns which make them very difficult to trim down. I speak from personal experience. You could alway put some bushes back there like pittosporum or wax leaf legostrum.

Be careful about planting tall grasses. They will hide your transformer, but they also make a lovely home for rats and mice.

Go to http://Bexar.TX.TAMU.edu web site. It is the Bexar County Aggri Life Extension service web site. You will find all kinds of information there for drought tolerant, shade, sun, ground covers, shrubs, trees, etc. DavesGarden.com. Anything you might want. Also PlantAnswers.com, also aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/ is another great site. You can also get the answers you need for all of your gardening questions by calling ###-###-#### or e-mailing ____@____.com - FAX number: ###-###-####.

I took the Master Gardener course last year which is through the AggriLife Extension Service (name changed just recently from Bexar County Extension Service) The course is fantastic. The speakers are different each week and very informative. The classes are regular semester length and from 1:00 to around 4-5:00 each Wednesday. There are a lot of opportunities to learn more about plants as there is an ongoing education program also. Volunteer work is so rewarding too. I helped teach classes at the Botanical Garden, helped at many schools, the rodeo, etc. and it's very rewarding. You meet some really nice people. A group of the Master Gardeners are the ones who did a lot of the planting, cleaning up and putting back in enjoyable order of the Japanese Tea Garden. So hope this will be helpful

Hybiscus, blumbago or fire bush, none require much care and do well in the south with direct sunlight.

i used to have a friend in my apartment complex that planted a banana tree that grew to be big. it had big leaves and even grew actual bananas. i don't know alot about planting or anything like that but i assume that is a tropical plant. anyhow i thought it may be something to look into. good luck!

I'm no expert, however, I would think that it would behoove you to plant something tropical, like a palm. These are very hardy plants and crave the sun. You can go to your nearest garden center and find out about how tall/wide each species grows. I have a palm tree that I bought for 5 bucks about 8 years ago. It was 12 inches tall. It is now 6 feet tall. Best thing is that you dont really have to ever water them either. The rain fall is plenty. They like it dry and sunny.

Palms are nice and provide some shade with not pokie things for the kids you care for daily.


If your back yard is big and spacious, then you could consider planting a magnolia tree is my favorite tree after the palm trees. To cover your transformer you could plant rosemary shrubs it covers and it smells good and any evergreen shrub will also work. Hope this helps you!!!! Good luck!!!! S.

I agree with the people who suggested large fake rocks, or a fence. This saves a lot of issues of the plant dying off in winter, having to prune, workers trampling your plants...

Also, if you want to get some trees, you can join the National Arbor Foundation for less than $20 & get 10 trees to plant. I don't remember the exact details, as it's been over a year since I found this, before we bought our house. You can check out their website for details.

Good luck!

A lot of the plants mentioned (plumbago, bougainvilla, vines) will drop their leaves in the winter, so you'll have 2 eyesores to deal with. I would look into a holly, wax myrtle possibly, or another plant that will stay green and full even in the cold months.

Since you're in Converse, I would recommend going to Millbergers (1604 and Bulverde Rd). There's also Rainbow Gardens on Nacogdoches, inside 1604. Both places have S TX expert gardeners who can suggest a ton of plants for you. Avoid Home Depot and Lowes at all cost.

I have no advice on what to plant but we have one of those ugly things in the corner of our backyard also. Just so you are aware, find out what the city rules are regarding distance of the items around it...we had to move a shed because "it was too close".

Wish I had better advice but I wasn't born with a green thumb.

I'm in Tx also, and rosemary grows beautiful in Tx. it loves the sun and is drought resistant once established. it can get big and it's pretty and an evergreen. I love mine and use it to cook with ALL the time! I would buy a couple for the front and one for each side, it'll take a few years for it to cover your transformer, but you will love it! it smells so good! If you decide to go with it, you might go to a nursery where they actually KNOW about them and find out which variety's grow the tallest and widest then you can buy them there or take that knowledge somewhere more economical. feel free to email me to find out what you can use he rosemary for in the kitchen as well!

Hi C.,
Try planting grasses, like zebra grass or any of the other grasses that grow well here. I have several in my yard and they love sun and grow quickly. The tags on them tell you how tall and wide they will grow, so you'll know how to space them. In the winter I trim them back. They are super easy to care for.

Try using Nantana, I think that is how it is spelled. Common name is Heavenly Bamboo. It is a plant people used to cover up A/C units outside. Hardy bush. grow without any care.

I would not recommend planting anything in front of a transformer. You could build something in front of it (like a cool fence/painted folding screen)but, if you plant something, the roots may grow under it and unbalance it.. or the plant may grow up onto it and cause problems.


Hi C.,

We had that problem and I bought two fake rocks from Plow and Hearth on-line. (We have two unsightly items to cover up). You can buy medium or large and they actually look real but are very light weight. Somewhat more pricey than plants, but then again, I haven't had to worry about it for 5+ years. I did plant some reddish ornamental grasses in front of the "rocks" for color (they do great with little water and full sun). Hope this helps.

you might try putting down some inexpensive pavers and placing different size (large)pots with various plants (heat tolerant) to hide the transformer. This way you can rearrange them so they fit better as they grow.
good luck!

Be careful. Since you run an in-home daycare, do the kids go outside? A lot of plants are poisonous. Do plenty of research before you decide. We almost lost our dog to plant poisoning, and watching what she went thru, I could never imagine letting a person go thru that. We actually ripped most of the plants out of our yard after the incident with the dog.

I just planted Moonflowers to cover my unsightly electric pole in the corner of my yard. I put them in two terra cotta pots at the base. It says on the envelope that it grows 15 feet! so we'll see!
good luck.

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