Answer: Culverts are usually placed to facilitate storm runoff, and are installed as part of the overall drainage plan for the development, so it is very important that you leave the area near it clear. If you plant too close to the culvert you might cause water to back up and consequently flood streets or property. For this reason you may want to consult with a professionally trained landscape architect or other professional with experience in grading to make sure your planting will not impede the water -- and also will not be washed away by the runoff as it rushes through.
You might consider leaving the area near the culvert in lawn, and instead plant something closer to your home so it blocks the view from your windows or favorite sitting spot. Ideally this would be integrated into your master planting plan for the lot and would take into account the overall landscape and your long term plans for it. A landscape architect can consult with you on that, some will work on an hourly consult-only basis while others will prefer to create and draw the complete master plan for you. Since you have a new home in a new development, I would strongly recommend you follow this route and consult with a professional on site before you plant anything.
In the meantime, your local county extension and/or professionally trained nursery staff may be able to help you analyze the growing conditions in your new yard and suggest some things to try. Good luck with your landscaping and enjoy your new home!
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