You might envision marvelous things for your yard. Perhaps you dream of a koi pond, babbling brook, exquisite flower garden, sculptures, waterfalls, or pools. But one sore spot needs to be fixed before your dreams can take root: that darn air conditioning unit. It squats, ugly and obtrusive, in plain sight.
That need not happen, and even if your dreams for the yard are on the modest or whimsical side, a few simple steps can make your air conditioner a lot easier to tolerate.
Covering the Basics First
Of course, it is important to review the basics first. Namely, what you shouldn’t do while trying to make your yard prettier. In fact, one of the top air conditioning mistakes people make is to put flowers, bushes, trees, and the like right around their unit. Rather, any growth should be at least 2 feet away (3 feet is better) so that ventilation and cooling remainas effective as possible.
Another thing to keep in mind: Your air conditioner needs to be in a relatively cool location such as in a shaded area. Otherwise, putting it in an area that gets an excessive amount of sun means overheating could result.
Also, you should not use fitted covers, whether they are vinyl or cloth. These covers get in the way of air circulation and can damage components such as the compressor.
Using What Nature Provides
So, you’re not supposed to have shrubs, flowers, and the like within 3 feet of your unit. But outside of that 3 feet? Knock yourself out! You can install, say, a trellis or picket fence close by your unit, and plant flowers strategically on/around it.
Do leave extra space to work with when you’re installing fences and plants. For example, if you envision your shrub eventually becoming 4 feet wide, then you should place it about 5 feet from your unit. That way, the risk of it creeping into the 3-foot zone is minimal. Similarly, if you’re installing a trellis that will have plants poking through it, the trellis should be more than just 3 feet from the air conditioner.
Another reason for the extra space is to ensure that the water you use on the plants doesn’t end up damaging the air conditioner. Keep flowers too close, and the unit could become corroded.
Installing a Screen
Another option is to install a screen around the unit, and you can get really creative. For example, some people even use mosaic screens. To add to the appeal, plant a garden around the screen or use other decorations such as sculptures. Do aim to keep at least 6 to 7 feet open above the air conditioner.
If you’re choosing between mulch and rock to put on the ground around the unit, go with rock. It isn’t as pretty as mulch, but it won’t get trapped in the fan.
Designating a Storage Space
If you’re always looking for space to store your shovels, gardening tools, garden hoses, and other garden items, you could designate the area around your air conditioner as a storage space. That is, you build a fence around it that provides a lot of room for you to store other items in the area as well. And, of course, you can decorate the fence from the outside with flowers and vibrant colors.
Leaving the Unit Accessible
Then there is the fact that the unit needs to remain accessible. This seems obvious, but when people plan, they sometimes forget that they themselves or HVAC technicians need to access the unit. They may build a screen that, oops, has no door, or they might design a picket fence that has to be climbed over to access the unit.
Instead of seeing your air conditioner as a hindrance to your yard, it could help to view it as a fun challenge. Take before-and-after pictures, and let the creative juices flow.