A beautifully landscaped yard can make even the most urban home feel like a nature sanctuary. And for many, achieving such an atmosphere means concealing their exterior air conditioning unit or heat pump unit with decorative grasses, climbing plants, shrubs, and other garden flora. Planting in the proximity of your A/C unit can have major advantages, serving not only to conceal your unit, but also to reduce the associated noise level. Hedges can also shade your A/C unit during the hot summer months—enabling it to cool more efficiently—and protect your heat pump from freezing winds and snow drifts throughout the winter.

Nevertheless, placing plant life too close to your exterior A/C unit can also yield a number of problems. An air conditioner needs sufficient breathing room, and planting a bush, shrub, or other plant too close to the unit can restrict airflow, thereby reducing efficiency and, over time, the life span of the unit. Too much foliage too close to your unit can also make it impossible to identify potential issues such as a malfunctioning fan motor, as well as making it difficult to access the unit for routine maintenance and necessary repairs. Dense plant life also provides a perfect home for rodents such as rats and mice, both of which are notorious for their propensity to chew through wires.

Fortunately, it’s possible to conceal your A/C unit from view while also ensuring that it continues to perform at maximum efficiency. When planting near your unit, leave a minimum of 2-3 feet of empty space on all sides, as well as leaving 3-4 feet of space atop the unit. Be sure to consider the long-term growth habits of whatever plant you choose, and select plants that do not shed their leaves during the cooler months of the year—thereby reducing the amount of raking required to maintain optimal airflow. Hedges, which can easily be pruned to a desired height and shape, are a great, low-maintenance option for hiding A/C units. Likewise, placing a lattice adorned with climbing plants around your unit provides an attractive cover that requires minimal upkeep.

Once you’ve disguised your air conditioning unit, don’t forget about it altogether! You should regularly check your unit to be sure it’s clear of debris and draining properly, as well as to confirm that nothing appears to be out of sorts. Most importantly, keep your A/C running at maximum efficiency by having a technician perform ongoing A/C maintenance.

Still not sure how to begin your landscaping project while ensuring that your A/C unit has the space it needs to breathe? The experienced professionals at Cates Heating and Cooling can help, whether your gardening vision resembles a dense rainforest or a tropical paradise!

Cates Heating and Cooling is a trusted provider of heating and air conditioning maintenance, repair, and replacement to businesses and residences in the Greater Kansas City area. Have questions? Contact Cates today to inquire about air conditioning maintenance in Kansas City, or to acquire a free estimate on new air conditioning installation in the KC area. No matter how hot it gets, we can help keep you cool!