How to Beautify Your Outdoor A/C Unit | HVAC Landscaping Tips

by Pacific Heating
7/31/2016 - Tacoma, WA

hvac landscaping: how to beautify outdoor A/C unitAlthough you'd be hard pressed to find anyone that would say an outdoor HVAC unit is attractive, it is also an important piece of equipment that needs its space  to run properly.

Yes, your air conditioner’s condensing unit needs proper clearance in order to “breathe,” but does it have to be so ugly? Fortunately, no it doesn’t.

If you want to beautify your outdoor A/C unit, there are a bunch of useful landscaping tips to help you accomplish that, without having to fight back grass and weeds.

How to Beautify Your Outdoor A/C Unit


What NOT to Do: 

The main thing you want to be aware of is that you will always want a 24-inch clearance around the entire unit not matter what you do. If you have plants encroaching on the unit, leaves and foliage could get stuck in the unit, causing inefficiencies and requiring more frequent maintenance. Make sure you aren’t planting any tree that will have the chance of branches, fruits, seeds, and other debris that could get into the unit.

Not only does your unit need proper room to operate, but it is also very courteous to allow a clear path to the unit for your HVAC contractor who should be conducting yearly maintenance on the unit.

Watch this video for some HVAC landscaping tips:

It is also recommended that to don’t have grass near the unit, to avoid grass clipping from clogging up the condensing unit’s fins. To do this, many homeowners are xeriscaping around the unit, which is a water-saving technique used mostly for dry climates, but also great for minimizing upkeep and enhancing beauty.

What TO Do:

Although you want to keep proper clearance around your unit, that doesn’t mean you can plant some plants and slow-growing bushes and shrubs around the unit. In fact, it is a good idea to provide shade for your HVAC unit without coming into its 2-foot clearance. Any plant that drops fruits, leaves, and other debris can clog up the A/C fins and opening in the fan’s metal housing.

Every 30 days or so, take a quick look at your outdoor unit to make sure that plant materials have not blown up against or fallen on top of the A/C unit.

Some general tips for HVAC landscaping:


  • Start with a plan that is customized to your property.
  • Determine if the area is shady or not.
  • Research native plants that might work well around the unit.
  • Remove any plant life around your HVAC unit and purchase replacement plants and landscaping materials.
  • There are many possible configurations, including decorative boulders, succulents, and fences and walls.


Source: One Hundred Dollars a Month

If you would like to hide your entire unit, your best bet might be a decorative wall or fence. It is alright to hide your unit with a trellis or similar decorative object, just remember to leave plenty of room for an HVAC technician to work on the unit and at least 24 inches away on all sides. To accomplish this, don;t block more than 2 sides of the unit.

For more tips on hiding your air conditioning unit, watch this vide:

You can also try installing a fence around the unit, where you can store garden and yard supplies.


If you are making plans for your HVAC landscaping, it’s important to think about the materials that will be used. Things like gravel, mulch, grass, and small rocks can get stuck in the unit and cause more frequent maintenance and repairs.

The HVAC landscaping method that we recommend is xeriscaping: 

"Xeriscaping is landscaping and gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water from irrigation… In some areas, terms as water-conserving landscapes, drought-tolerant landscaping, and smart-scaping are used instead.”

The reason why xeriscaping is a good idea for the area around your HVAC unit (and perhaps larger areas of your yard as well) is because it is drought-tolerant, requires less maintenance, and eliminates the need for any chemical fertilizers and pesticides. There is no chance of grass clippings clogging up the fins as there will be no grass around the unit. The plants that are used are native to the area and will thrive without much supplemental maintenance.

Since there are a lot of different ways to xeriscaping, we’re going to simply suggest some materials and methods you can use. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Suggested Materials:


  • Bricks
  • Boulders, Stones, and Rocks
  • Succulents
  • Gravel (Only if the stones are large enough to not get sucked into the unit. Wash them first to get rid of any dust or small pebbles.)

The things you want to avoid are sand, dirt, shedding vegetation, spikes, thorns, and fast-growing, encroaching plants.

For more information about xeriscaping, watch this video:

If you have any questions, speak with your local HVAC contractor about the do’s and don’ts of HVAC landscaping. 

Call Pacific Air Systems for an experience technician to come service  your unit or speak with you about HVAC landscaping.

Since 1984, we’ve proudly served homeowners throughout Federal Way, Graham, Spanaway, University Place, Steilacoom, Sumner, Lakewood, Puyallup, Tacoma, and Gig Harbor.

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