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Beautiful plants can help draw your eye away from the equipment needed to keep your home comfortable. Source: Bloomwater, LLC

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Outdoor home decor usually doesn’t include an air conditioning unit. This necessary appliance doesn’t have to spoil your home’s look, however. Landscaping around an HVAC system is a great way to spruce up an often neglected space and to create a seamless exterior for your home. But be careful. Trees and bushes can damage your HVAC system without proper placement and care. You don’t want decorations to disrupt your home’s heating and cooling. Discover the best ways to landscape around your outdoor system with these tips.

Choose the right plants

So much about picking the right plant depends on where you live. There are some general rules of (green) thumb to follow. When possible, look for plants that don’t lose their leaves in colder months. This will reduce the amount of sweeping and raking needed keep the area clear of debris. Hedges are a common choice, and can be trimmed to your desired shape and height.

Leave the proper clearance

To work properly and avoid unnecessary repairs, your air conditioning unit needs space. It’s crucial to leave adequate space between the unit and your plants to avoid restricting airflow around the coils. Plants should be at least 2-3 feet from the unit on all sides, and make sure your air conditioner is easily reached for maintenance and repairs. Trees or other plants growing above the unit should be trimmed regularly to keep a 5-foot clearance between them and the air conditioner.

Make the most of the shade

Shade cast on the air conditioner keeps the temperature down so the unit doesn’t have to work as hard to cool your home. Yes, it’s a fine line between casting shade and staying clear of debris, but the value is there when it’s done correctly. In addition to making the area look more natural, landscaping around your air conditioner can actually help improve its efficiency.

Screen it

Sometimes the simplest way to dress up your HVAC system is to hide it. From quaint cottage styles to more modern looks and materials, there are multiple pre-made screens you can use to cleverly disguise your A/C unit. Building a lattice around the A/C unit and landscaping with climbing plants is also a relatively simple and attractive option. Just make sure to trim plants, hedges and trees near the air conditioner regularly to maximize airflow and efficiency.

Ask a specialist

If you have any questions about your air conditioning unit or are looking for additional tips for landscaping around an air conditioner, contact your local HVAC specialist. And as always, be sure to call your local utility before you dig.