How to landscape around a central A/C unit!

Let’s face it: Despite the comfort they provide inside, outdoor air conditioners can be an eyesore. But with some strategically placed landscaping, you can keep the compressor out of sight and help it to run more ­efficiently. Here’s how:

Let it breathe. The compressor needs adequate airflow to work correctly, so make sure there’s at least 2 to 3 feet of space between the unit and any plants or structures. There should also be 5 feet of clearance between the top of the unit and any trees above. Keep in mind that the unit has to be accessible for servicing.

Put it in the shade. Placing the unit out of the hot sun will help it run more efficiently. Shade trees also keep your house from heating up as much.

Plan your plants. A hedge is a good way to conceal a unit as long as you trim it year round. To keep the unit free of falling leaves, select trees that retain their leaves during the winter. If you don’t have room for a hedge, a trellis for climbing vines will provide shade and hide the compressor.

Keep the machine clean. A dirty condenser coil can increase compressor energy consumption by 30 percent. To prevent grass from your mower or mud from a rainstorm from spraying into the unit, surround the pad on which it sits with a stone border filled with crushed rock. That way rainwater drains away and foliage is kept at bay.

Keep lawn gear clear. Your A/C unit can get damaged by rocks kicked up by the mower or by being bumped by a string trimmer or mower.