Maintaining Your Outdoor Unit

Best Ways to Landscape Around Your Air Conditioning Unit

By landscaping correctly around your air conditioner, you can hide it from view without interfering with its required airflow.

The following tips will provide you with a safe way to landscape around it, and help to improve its efficiency.  However, keep in mind that the system has to remain accessible to your HVAC technician for maintenance and any repairs. Contact us anytime for any air conditioning repair you need.

How to Plant Around Your Air Conditioning Unit

Your outdoor unit requires a minimum amount of space for proper air flow to occur. The minimal  planting distance is 2-3 feet away from the outdoor unit, but planting further is recommended with 6 feet being ideal. Keep in mind when selecting plants, they will grow larger. When plants are too close to the unit, the air flow is obstructed and problems can occur. Some of the issues planting to close may cause include:

  • Excessive strain resulting in wear and tear on the unit, with a reduced life span
  • Reduced energy efficiency
  • An increased number of repairs and maintenance
  • Algae growth and excess soiling of the cabinet and components

Select the plants and choose the location with these potential problems in mind. You will also want to avoid avoid shedding plants that create debris. Keep in mind if you plant large growing plants, you will have to trim it routinely.  Remember you want to keep the minimum space clear, and allow your technician ample access to the unit and room to work with his equipment.

Shade Your AC Unit

Using plants to create shade for your air conditioner will help it to perform more efficiently and effectively. The use of trees, shrubs, and other plants to block sunlight around your AC, and other areas of your yard can provide a cooler space both indoors and out. Just remember to keep the 2-3 ft. minimum space around your unit. Avoid leaf and plant debris from intruding into the space or on the unit. In addition, your unit requires a minimum of 6 ft. above it, so don’t allow branches to hang over it within this area, and preferably higher above it. Many plants are available in dwarf varieties, and if the area is shady, look for shade tolerant plants.


Some homeowner’s want a minimal care lawn, including around the outdoor unit. If this sounds like you, consider an enclosed gravel bed surrounding your AC unit. There will be no grass to mow, and fewer weeds to pull. Pavers are another option that will reduce weeds and looks great.

You can even extend the space further out than the minimal, and plant a bed enclosed with pavers, leaving a walk way through to the unit. The gravel will reduce the amount of weeding necessary in a plant bed, and help to maintain moist conditions for your plants.

Use a Trellis

A trellis is a great way to screen the view of your unit and cultivate some beauty in your yard. Just remember to maintain the space and choose your plants wisely.

Best Plants to Choose

Consider the growth rate and the size of the mature plants when making your selection. You should also avoid any flowers that attract stinging insects. These pests may move into the air conditioning unit to nest, and are likely to sting anyone who comes near. Also, avoid plants with thorns such as roses and holly. Your AC technician will be grateful for this consideration.

Finally, if you choose to plant a tree anywhere near your home, consider deciduous trees. These trees shed their leaves in the winter, allowing sunlight to help warm your home. Remember though, to avoid leaf debris near your AC unit, and to plant them far enough away that debris isn’t a problem. Consider the trees mature height and width when planting them, and never plant near power lines! Evergreens are a better choice as they are slow growing with very little shedding. An important factor to remember when deciding the type of plants and where to plant, is the heat discharged by your AC unit. Planting them beyond the minimum will be better for the plants.

Enclosing a Central Air Conditioning Unit

As previously mentioned a trellis can help hide the unit. Other ideas are a trellis box, or fence. You can use privacy fencing if it’s far enough away from the unit. Just remember that it my block the air from helping to cool the unit, so jeep it minimal in size. A fence with an open design is better, even when located outside the minimal zone. A bamboo cane screen is an attractive alternative. Cane is lightweight and can often be created into a curved screen. Plant some elephant ears in front of it surrounded by plants with a splash of color and your AC camouflage becomes a beautiful focal point. You will need to leave a side open, and room to work around it for your HVAC technician, and its best to leave the top completely open. There is no reason you can’t place it 6 ft or more from the unit, leaving plenty of work space and air flow.

If you feel fencing is unattractive, try the trellis. Most eyes will stop at your beautiful plant,. With a little planning, and observing the rules of air flow required, you can conceal your AC unit and even create a focal point of beauty. Check your owners manual, or your units manufacturer for its specific space recommendations.

Need AC repair? Give us a call. Our professional technicians are available 24/7 for your emergency AC repair. When you want service you can rely on for HVAC repair, maintenance and installation, give Metro Express Service a call today.


Randy Murphy

Randy Murphy has been building his knowledge of the air conditioning and heating business for several years now. He first started applying his knowledge while working for his father’s HVAC company. Later, in 1987, Randy started his own business: Metro Express Service. He has been a top 10 Trane & Amana dealer for over eight years. When it comes to heating and cooling, Randy knows the business better than anyone.
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