Hiding bulky outdoor air conditioning units

Central air conditioning is a blessing on scorching summer days. There's nothing quite like the relief of escaping the outdoor heat by walking into the chilled rooms of a home.

One drawback of such a system, however, is the bulky air conditioning equipment that must stay close to your home. This equipment can easily become an eyesore, standing out like a sore thumb amidst the landscaping and any other exterior features.

Several options are available to hide or minimize the appearance of the air conditioner. However, you'll also want to make sure that the solution you choose doesn't inhibit the operation of the unit.

Air flow is essential for keeping the air conditioner working properly, since it will need to exhaust warm air from your home and replace it with cooled air. Mariana Pickering, writing for the home design site Houzz, says any enclosure or other method of concealment should allow air to flow freely. The air conditioner's manufacturer will also have a recommendation on how far any items should be from the unit.

Similarly, you should still be able to access the air conditioner to have it inspected or maintained. Even if the unit is fully enclosed, there should be a door or other method to access crucial components.

A simple fence is one of the most common tricks for keeping the air conditioner out of sight. The planks can easily be designed to complement existing fencing or other garden features, and can also be spaced far enough apart to allow for adequate air flow.

Screening options will also offer an attractive decorative element which can lend visual interest to the garden while blocking the view of the air conditioner. Thomas Noel, writing for the home design site Freshome, says wooden latticework, wicker screens, and even plastic mesh with a geometric design will all work well for this purpose.

Landscaping elements will do a good job of masking the appearance of an air conditioner. Alexa Erickson, writing for Family Handyman, says tall shrubs are a good choice, while plants can also be trained to grow on fence slats surrounding a unit. Noel says faux ivy leaf netting will also work well, although it must be attached to a fence.

Fully enclosed air conditioner covers can be constructed from a variety of materials, such as wood or metal, and can provide easy access via a lid. Erickson says you can also upcycle materials such as old shutters to provide a creative covering.

If you have the space, you might be able to build a complete shed to enclose the air conditioner. This outbuilding can then be used for other purposes as well, such as storing garden or pool equipment.

Smaller enclosed structures can include pillars, balustrades, or other creative elements that turn the enclosure into a gorgeous visual element in the garden. You may be able to add some extra storage as well by raising the height of the structure.

If you are planning an overhaul of your yard, consider how you might address the air conditioner. Pickering says it helps to have pathways, vegetation, and other features guide the eye away from the unit. You can combine this strategy with fencing or an enclosure to better keep the air conditioner out of sight.

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