Spring is right around the corner, which means so is the season for landscaping! You’re probably already thinking about what annuals to plant around the front of your home this year, but what about around the AC unit too? It’s big, bulky, and sticks out like a sore thumb. Maybe you’ve been trying to decide how to landscape around it for a while now, but weren’t sure what would work well around it. Well, we’ve got a few suggestions for you! Believe it or not, there’s a little bit of science behind it, because you want to hide the unit, but you want to make sure that it still works well too. So, first we’ll give you the top three things to keep in mind before you start landscaping, and then we’ll give you a few suggestions of some attractive landscaping ideas that work well.

Important Things to Consider

When landscaping around your outdoor AC unit, there are three things to keep in mind, to make sure that your unit stays safe, and functions to its full capacity:

Whatever you use to landscape around your AC unit, it’s important that you maintain a standard clearance of 2-3 feet from the unit. Your unit requires a certain amount of freely circulating air to function properly. Without circulating air, it’s likely that your unit will become more inefficient, and have to work harder to cool air. So keep any kind of landscaping 2-3 feet away, and if you plan on landscaping with trees, they should be trimmed to at least 5 feet away from the unit.

Dirt and debris in the AC system is one of the most common causes of air conditioning problems in the US. If your AC condenser coil, a part of the outdoor unit, gets dirty or clogged, it can increase the amount of energy your AC unit uses by up to 30 percent. That’s a pretty hefty increase for something as simple as keeping the unit clean. So it’s important to think about landscaping options that will prevent dirt and debris from getting caught in the unit.

Another thing to keep in mind is that many AC units are easily damaged. Rocks thrown up by lawnmowers, and accidental contact with weed whackers and lawnmowers can all damage your AC unit, and cause an unnecessary repair. That’s why it’s important to landscape around the unit: not just to hide it, but also to protect it from dirt and damage.

Landscaping Solutions

Now that you know what to look out for, what are some good ways to landscape around the unit?

A great way to hide the AC unit and protect it at the same time is to install a small fence. As long as it’s put up at the correct distance from the unit (2-3 feet), it’s visually appealing, and can protect the unit from kicked up rocks and other sorts of debris. You might even consider a lattice fence with some climbing plants, as long as you ensure that the plants don’t extend past the fence.

Remember how we said one of the leading causes of AC failure was dirt and debris? Well, there’s a way to control some of that dirt, if you install a stone or metal border around the base of the unit. Filling the border with crushed rock or a similar material will stop dirt and mud from splashing up in the rain. Since grass can also get stuck in the unit when it’s kicked up by wind or lawnmowers, a border protects your unit from that type of debris as well.

If you decide to landscape with plants rather than a fence, you might consider plants that don’t lose their leaves in the winter. This will prevent any excessive debris, will lighten your workload, and will keep your AC unit hidden even in the winter. Also, evergreens tend to be more manageable, in terms of upkeep and trimming. There are many of eye catching options that you can use to hide your outdoor AC unit.

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