When it comes to your backyard landscaping, you might not give much thought to your A/C system's outdoor condenser unit. However, the foliage that grows around it can have a dramatic effect on its performance and longevity. Here are a few tips you can use to help your A/C unit in shape while shaping up your backyard.
Keep a Clear Path for Airflow
Your outdoor A/C unit is all about removing heat from your home, so there needs to be plenty of airflow to help carry the heat away from the outdoor unit. The condenser fan pulls the air it needs from the bottom edges of the outdoor cabinet, where it's later expelled upwards into the atmosphere. Unfortunately, this essential airflow is easily blocked by plants, weeds and other foliage growing around the bottom of the unit.
For this reason, it's important to keep the surrounding 2 to 3-foot area around the outdoor cabinet free of foliage and debris. Whenever you mow the grass around this area, make sure you have the mower's discharge port pointed away from the outdoor cabinet. This will keep the condenser coils from getting clogged up with grass clippings and other debris.
To prevent grass from growing around the bottom of your outdoor A/C unit, you may want to lay down a bed of landscaping rocks. Unlike mulch, you won't risk getting any swept up in the condenser fan.
Choose Your Shade Trees Wisely
Providing your outdoor A/C unit with some shade from a tree or shrub can help improve its overall performance. A properly-shaded condenser also uses 10 percent less energy than one that's under direct sunlight. But when it comes to choosing your shade foliage, it pays to be a bit picky. Here are a few tips:
- Avoid trees that shed leaves or needles during the fall and winter. Evergreens that maintain their foliage year-round are a good choice for shade tree duty.
- Avoid trees that ooze and drip sap from branches and leaves, such as maple and birch.
- When planting hedges and shrubbery, make sure they're at least 3 feet away from your outdoor A/C unit. Don't forget to keep your shrubs properly trimmed.
Conceal with Care
If you have an eye towards keeping your outdoor A/C unit out of sight, then you have several options at your disposal. You can go the natural route by planting a row of hedges to visually shield the outdoor unit from view. Creeping ivy also works as a great natural screen, as long as it's properly tended to.
You can also use wooden fences as a way to keep your outdoor A/C unit under wraps. Lattice fencing, for instance, adds plenty of natural charm to just about any landscaped setting. Slatted wood fence panels are also a good choice for hiding your HVAC equipment. You can even construct a miniature equipment shed that not only hides your outdoor A/C unit, but also provides some useful space for garden tools and other items.
When concealing your outdoor A/C unit, it's important to keep the following in mind:
- Always conceal with ventilation in mind. Never completely enclose your outdoor A/C unit unless the enclosure provides ample amounts of airflow.
- If you're using a solid wall or hedge to hide your outdoor A/C unit, make sure there's at least 3 feet of clearance between it and the wall. For units tucked below ledges or balconies, make sure there's at least 5 feet of clearance above the unit.
For more information on any or all of these tips, consider contacting local companies such as Jones Air Conditioning & Electric.