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An outdoor Trane HVAC system sits between a red brick wall and green plants.

Landscaping Around Outdoor HVAC Units

Learn the tips and tricks to landscape around your outdoor HVAC unit.

January 18, 2024

Trees and bushes can damage your HVAC system without proper care. Discover the best ways to landscape around your outdoor system.

Review our tips for landscaping around your HVAC systems

1. Leave the proper clearance

When planning the landscaping around your air conditioning unit, you want to leave adequate space between the unit and your plants to avoid restricting airflow around the coils. Make sure plants are at least 2-3 feet from the unit on all sides, and plan the landscaping so that the air conditioner is easily accessible for maintenance and repairs. If you have trees or other plants growing above the unit, trim regularly to keep a 5-foot clearance between them and the air conditioner. If space is tight, consider an air conditioner privacy screen as an alternative.

2. Make the most of the shade

In addition to making the area look more natural, landscaping around your air conditioner can actually help improve its efficiency. By strategically placing trees, shrubs, or hedges around your HVAC unit, you can create a natural barrier that helps to deflect wind and insulate the system. This reduces strain on the HVAC unit, allowing it to operate more efficiently. Shade cast on the air conditioner keeps the temperature down so the unit doesn't have to work as hard to cool your home. In addition to foliage, you can employ an AC shade cover to reduce sun exposure and protect your unit from extreme weather.

3. Choose the right plants

There are a lot of plant options to choose from when planning landscaping around your air conditioner. If possible, look for plants that don't lose their leaves during the colder months. This will reduce the amount of sweeping and raking you do to keep the area clear of debris. Hedges are a common choice, and can be trimmed to your desired shape and height. Building a lattice around the A/C unit and landscaping with climbing plants is also a relatively simple and attractive option. Avoid shrubs with invasive root systems and heavy pollen. Plants like bamboo, willow, and certain types of ivy have aggressive root systems that can infiltrate the HVAC unit. Certain flowering plants, such as oak trees, can release large amounts of pollen, which can clog the HVAC unit. Whatever landscaping options you choose, make sure to trim plants, hedges and trees near the air conditioner regularly to maximize airflow and efficiency.

4. Ask a specialist

Hiding an AC unit from view requires careful consideration. 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 Trane Comfort Specialist™ today. And as always, be sure to call your local utility before you dig.

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