Anyone Hide an A/C Unit with Shade?

ak0402June 15, 2006

I have tried unsuccessfully to camoflage my A/C unit that is in my back yard. My backyard faces NW. I've tried four Yews, of different Yew varieties, and all died. First, the area is in full shade, which is probably great for the A/C unit itself. Second there is a tree a few feet away from the unit, providing the aforementioned shade, but also hogging the water from plants attempting to grow there. Third, the A/C unit blows warm air out while it is running; I spaced the Yews a couple of feet away from the A/C, but they still got blown upon.

Someone suggested Lamium Galeobdolon, which would grow in dry shade, although it's likely not tall enough to camoflage the A/C, but might be better than having nothing there. Do any of you have plants that have camoflaged your A/C units, which is about 2-3' high? Or should I just give up on the idea?

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Believe it or not I used barberry bushes. I know you want a shade thingy, but barberry bushes are really tough little guys and can thrive in Z5 in some shade, grow in the worst soil, and can also take the warm air of the AC unit blasting on it. I am assuming that there will be *some* sun from the west when it is setting and you don't need a total shade plant, since you say it is on the NW side of the house.

The downside - barberry bushes are very slow growers, at least they have been for me, and you will have to spend some moola getting one that is the right size if you want to camoflage the AC units immediately. Otherwise, just buy the $5 size and wait 15 years.

I have chocolate snakeroot in the north side of my house right in front of the dryer vent blasting it with hot air and it is doing fine. The downside to that, is that it is not a *bush* and will die back in the winter, but does get 4' tall in the summer. I couldn't get any other bush to grow in that shady spot and had to go with the snakeroot.

Word of warning: Barberry bushes can be VERY prickly so don't plant them where you will be doing a lot of garden work or along a sidewalk where people may brush against them and become annoyed.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2006 at 10:13PM
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virginia_w(z3 WI)

I have a hydrangea bush about a foot away from my AC.(on the left side) It does get some afternoon sun, but blooms fine there. Also I have some old-fashioned bleeding hearts about two feet in front of the AC that get very large (3-4 feet) and hide it most of the summer. Another shade perennial that gets very large (4-5 feet) is kierengoshoma. It looks like a small bushy maple, gets yellow flowers in late summer and dies back every year. It is also called Yellow Waxbells. I have it on the north side of the house and it get no sun there.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 11:53AM
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I was planning to use hydrangea around mine too. Not much help here.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 2:22PM
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autumnmoon(6a/se ks)

Boxwoods are evergreen and will grow in the deep shade and require pretty much NO care and dont require alot of water either. They are relatively cheap, usually about $4 or so for a gallon size and grow rather quickly. There are some pretty ones too, green velvet is very pretty, green mountain is more pyramidal in shape....

    Bookmark   June 17, 2006 at 8:26PM
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Linda Eastman

i've not so much hidden as decorated my AC unit by leaning metal grillwork against it. i've found them at garden shops. they are meant to place in front of doors to scrape your feet on but i just prop them up on the AC and they look pretty.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 4:25PM
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How about abelia grandiflora? I know it's listed as more of a sun plant, but I've had a whole hedge growing in dry heavy shade for years. They're evergreen in my zone - I assume they are in other zones. They are a glossy green though - but covered with little white flowers all summer.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2006 at 2:50PM
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Be careful not to put the plants too close or you lose efficiency on the A/C unit. (sorry, I come from an HVAC family) It needs air circulation.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2006 at 6:32AM
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faerieannette(z7 MD)

yard mon I was gping to say the same thing! the units are ugly but we need them to work as best as they can. they are expensive to run anyway.

whiteviolet I woudl like to see pics of your decorated ac unit!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2006 at 1:00PM
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mary_228(z5 IL)

I sucessfully screened mine (Northern exposure, zone 5) with European Cranberry Viburnum. They're pretty to boot! Nice white flowers in the summer, berries if you prune at the right time. Had them for 15 years, dying now though, from something....

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 7:25PM
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pinkcarnation(z6 MI)

I have Hosta and Ferns around mine and they grow so huge that I can barely see the top of the AC Unit. I would post a photo if I knew how! LOL

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 2:32PM
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here in the pacific northwest, nandina would fill the bill. it takes dry shade, is the only plant that has thrived in front of our furnace vent. comes in many sizes, shapes and colors. not sure what will do well in chicago but local nursery would know.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2006 at 11:50AM
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I would go with the disguise by building a lattice frame because the AC unit does need air to be efficient--then plant in front of the lattice. I gave up on planting anything in front of mine--too hot, too shady--so I put a bed of interesting found objects directly in front (different types of stone) and then found a tall iron bird cage on big discount at TJMax which I filled with sea shells to draw the eye up and away from the AC vent.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 11:06AM
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pyramidhvacr(MEMPHIS TN.)

YYour systems need fresh air to be efficient. If units blowing up a tree do not need to block air flow or it with return back to the system MFG rule of thumbs if units is 36" tall at less 36" from ANY plants ( but being a service tech. We love dirty unit and lack for air flow "SERVICES CALL" OF DIE SYSTEMS. UNIT THAT CANNOT GET FRESH AIR TAKE AWAY EFFICIENT. COST YOU MORE MONEY ON YOUR LIGHT BILL. TREE SHADING UNITS MEAN ON RAIN TO HELP CLEAN THE COILS. COVER UNIT NO ROOM TO WORK ON OR TO WASH THIS UNIT WILL PUMP THE OIL OUT OF THE COMPRESSOR :) MONEY :) TO MAKE. PS IF NEW SYSTEM THIS WILL VOID ANY MFG WARRANTY.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2007 at 5:32PM
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I think that busyd95 has a most practical idea. I grow wormwood in total shade; it might work for you if spaced from the a/c unit. Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2007 at 8:39AM
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I concur with the latice screen suggestion. It will provide instant screening and keep any plants you do plant far enough away from the A/C unit so that the plants don't interfere with the A/C and aren't bothered by its heat. Several catalogs sell screening designed to hide air conditioners. You should place a good weed barier around the air conditioner. On the "view" side of the screen you could plant euonymous or a thuja (yew) of a variety that is programmed not to grow too tall.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 11:19AM
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I'm growing honeysuckle up a trellis that screens my AC on 1 side. It works great

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 12:41PM
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I grow a staghorn sumac on the north side of my house with a Jap maple to conceal the AC unit. Both are a ways from the unit itself, but over time the sumac leaned over the unit. I just bent the then plaible branch and repositionied it, no problems. On the north side I have hydrangeas, sumac, Jap maple, toad lilies, ferns, and hostas - no problems with any of them.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 12:23PM
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We hear it all the time how can I get rid of my noise a/c and hide my air conditioner? I was in the same spot and had landscaped around the a/c unit, but that didn't correct the problem. We had to worry about the a/c unit getting clogged with the landscape debris and we could still hear the loud air conditioner.

Here is a link that might be useful: QUIET FENCE

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 9:29AM
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