If your home contains a central air conditioning unit, you will also have an air conditioning compressor near the exterior of your home. An air conditioning compressor can be large and noisy. Oftentimes, the colors of the compressor may not match the exterior of your home, prompting a reason to limit the visibility of the unit. Even though the compressor is the workhorse of the air conditioner, it can be an eyesore to your home and property.
Create a plan for your landscape. Decide if you want to work with edging such as rocks or a fence. Choose plants that are taller than the height of the compressor. Most standard sized compressors are at 1 to 2 feet high. If you choose immature plants, keep in mind how tall and wide they will be when they reach maturity. Mixing and matching shrubs with bushy perennials will help fill in the area and provide continuing color and greenery throughout the year.
Select perennial plants or shrubs that require little to no maintenance and will stay or return each year. One choice in plant could be Astilbe. Astilbe grows in most plant hardiness zones. The plant reaches up to 29 inches in height and has a lush green foliage lasting throughout spring in summer. Puffy plumes of color in your choice of pinks, reds and whites appear throughout the summer. Alternate with a shrub such as a hydrangea that reaches up to four feet in height. The hydrangea blooms in your choice of bright colored pink, white or blue spheres — throughout the summer into early fall.
Disconnect power to your air conditioning compressor. Make sure you shut off power at the electrical box so that you can work safely around the compressor without the risk of injury or damage to the unit while it is running.
Measure the area around the compressor. Measuring will tell you exactly where to place plants and will keep your design symmetrical. Place plants at least 3 feet away from the compressor.
The Kansas State University recommends keeping this distance to allow for easy access for repairs and to avoid interfering with the blades and vents of the compressor. Dig a small trench around the unit and plant your shrubs and perennials — at least 8 inches apart or according to plant specifications. Fill in bare areas with dirt and outline with edging of your choice. Reconnect power to the unit.
Tips to keep in mind include making sure the plant area is trimmed back away from the compressor.
Overcrowding of plants and shrubs will block air flow in and out of the compressor — leading to overheating and permanent damage to your central air system. Don’t forget to maintain your landscaped area by watering and fertilizing frequently.
“Kansas State University Engineering Extension”, Air Conditioning