We are trying to make our side yard look aesthetically pleasing. The HVAC compressor cage is an eyesore, as shown in pic below (the gutter were only temporarily removed for painting). What can we do to hide/make it look better?

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    Can you remove the cage or is theft/vandalism a concern? Commented Jul 20, 2021 at 19:41
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    This question is about decorating advice and is off topic. It's also a matter of opinion.
    – isherwood
    Commented Jul 21, 2021 at 12:53

7 Answers 7


I'm sorry to be so blunt but the A/C isn't making your yard look bad, your yard is making your yard look bad. That wood barricade needs to go!

Search the internet for "landscaping around A/C unit" and you should get plenty of inspiration like the image below:

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The main thing to keep in mind is that the unit needs a minimum 2 feet of clearance around all sides so that it is easily serviceable and replaceable when the time comes. A simple rock surround usually does wonders for A/C aesthetic.

If you decide to plant shrubs then just remember that the coil fins will clog with debris often so you'll need it cleaned once or twice per year.

If you truly just despise the look of HVAC compressors then you could camouflage it:

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As a HVAC service professional I wouldn't box the condenser with anything, this is problematic in multiple ways. If you want the system to remain problem free you must consider the service it will receive throughout its service life. With that being said, the 2 foot or 18" rule also would not suffice. I would recommend a single fence 4' from the condenser runing along the wall enough to block view. You could use a hedge row but not anything that will grow wild into the unit if left unpruned. In order to get the best service to the condenser you need to make it readily accessible.


Remove the cladding. For a side yard the compressor units are not so ugly. They're hidden from the back by the wider rear of the house. You can put a small attractive privacy panel facing the front, if these can be seen from the road, to make that view more attractive. The side view doesn't matter. The cage is doing more harm than good, and IMO the more you do the worse it will get as you draw more attention to it. Peoples' eyes are used to seeing those units in a side yard.

Also, with no cage, the area around the compressors is easier to keep clean. Otherwise, the view from above (out your side windows) will be down to a cage filled with leaves and crap unless you make special effort to clean it regularly.


I would suggest planting shrubbery around it, it will help absorb the sound (your neighbors will like that). The shade will help the unit keep cooler. Keep the shrubbery (assume it size in a few years) far enough away not to block the air flow and allow access to the unit for service. If you use evergreen type of shrubs it will be hidden year round. You can tie this in with the rest of the landscaping and it will look great and the AC will be much harder to see.

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    I had an outside AC unit that was in a space with restricted airflow because of a fence and a hedge. The unit performed poorly especially in winter, with freezing issues while the outside temp was well above freezing. After the fence was taken out by a falling brick wall (earthquake, Feb 2011) the AC unit worked much better. The cold air had been forming a "pocket" and simply recirculating. So whatever OP does, there must be airflow past the unit.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jul 21, 2021 at 19:36

Whatever you choose, remember that this is where the heat from your home exhausts. Make sure that air is easily drawn in along the sides and can easily escape the top.

Some kinds of sheds would obstruct air flow. Even excessive bushes can create a problem. If it cannot exhaust the heat, the life of your AC will be short.

There are real reasons these items don't come in enclosed sheds. Perhaps you can build a surround that has wood angled such that it is not a real wall, but just a few pieces of wood blocking the view from above, and to a great degree, the sides.

If you build an enclosure, remember that you'll have to remove the AC, so the enclosure will have a gate. You'll have to occasionally spray the fins of the coil with water to clean the outside unit, so the enclosure should permit such cleaning. Finally, anything that covers the top from an airflow perspective will just stop the unit from working by blocking the heat after the exhaust.


Box it in with similar cladding as used on the wall.

Make it easy to remove for servicing and provide more than ample airflow. Usually slats like venetian blinds work, it amy be a good idea to add a fine mesh to reduce bug entry.

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    I recently built a short (30") three sided privacy fence around a unit like this. No need for footings - you want to be able to move it for servicing as mentioned above. You'll want to provide 12" of space from the unit for ventilation.
    – HoneyDo
    Commented Jul 21, 2021 at 0:04
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    Our (industrial) site has a wooden fence around the HVAC. The interesting thing is that you can make a fence panel that is porous to air but opaque to look at. It has 4x4 horizontals and vertical slats nailed alternately to one side of the horizontal and the other. You can't see through it from any angle, but air can pass through. If you cut rounds or points on the tops of the vertical slats and painted it a pretty colour it would be quite attractive.
    – nigel222
    Commented Jul 21, 2021 at 9:32

I agree with Solar Mike.

Build a shed that matches the building and paint it the same. Extend a wall of the shed so it blocks view of the unit, i.e. so it appears from the outside to be part of the shed but in fact the non-obvious walls don't exist. Then, put all the crud in your backyard into the shed, and have a moratorium against new crud.

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