Now the satellite dish, an eyesore on the suburban and rural landscape, can perch on a lawn disguised as a patio umbrella and table.
Called Under Cover, the dish provides shade in the summer.
Even in the winter, as incongruous as it may look outdoors, its synthetic covering protects the dish from snow while allowing signals to pass through.
Under Cover was originally designed for residents of Palm Springs, Calif.
The resort town had more than 90 country clubs but no satellite dishes until 1987, when Ron Roberge began selling the special dish.
"Because Palm Springs doesn't allow antennas of any kind, a lot of our sales were getting blocked by code restrictions," said Mr. Roberge, who invented Under Cover with a friend, Terry Smith, in 1986.
Both men had worked for Boman Industries, a satellite products manufacturer in Downey, Calif. It took four years for them to perfect the disguise.
There are six designs: awning stripes in blue and white, beige and white, and green and white, as well as solid blue, beige and green.
The dish, which can be ordered through distributors across the country, sells for $3,000 to $5,000, including the removable cover and the table, which is attached to its base. To locate a local distributor, call (619) 775-9962.