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Landscaping can safely hide air conditioner

No matter how quiet they are, air conditioning units are not the most attractive thing in your yard. However, some carefully placed and designed landscaping can help your unit blend in with the scenery. And it might make your air conditioner run better and stay cleaner.

Landscaped air conditioner area

Photo from Consumer Reports

Here are some hints from Consumer Reports on how to landscape successfully around your air conditioner.

Leave some room to breathe. Airflow must be adequte to keep the compressor working correctly. “Make sure there’s at least 2 to 3 feet of space between the unit and any plants or structures. There should also be 5 feet of clearance between the top of the unit and any trees above.”

Also remember to leave space so service personnel and home inspectors can access the unit.

Select plants carefully. If you want to disguise your A/C unit with plants, choose plants and trees that retain their leaves year-round. A hedge is a good choice as long as you keep it trimmed all year.

You can also install a trellis for climbing vines. Just make sure the vines can stand the heat and air flow from the unit.

Create some shade. “Placing the unit out of the hot sun will help it run more efficiently,” says Consumer Reports.

Make sure the unit stays clean. A dirty condenser coil can increase compressor energy consumption by 30 percent, according to Consumer Reports.  To keep mud and grass from getting into the unit, surround the pad on which it sits with a stone border filled with crushed rock. This will allow rainwater to drain away while keeping foliage out.

Also, Nebraskans should be aware that this is the time of year when cotton from cottonwood trees flies through the air. Check your air conditioner frequently, and hose off any cotton that’s built up.  If you have these trees in your yard or area, you might need to do this daily to keep your unit from being wrapped in a “quilt.”

Be careful when doing lawn care.  Mowing can kick up rocks and other debris that can damage your A/C unit.

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