5 Creative Ways To Conceal An Air Conditioning Unit Outside

Do you notice the curb appeal when you walk past a house that has a neatly trimmed lawn, a beautiful walkway, and a porch bursting with containers of flowers? What could possibly detract from this scene? How about that air conditioning unit sitting along the side of the house? If you have a home with central air conditioning, you are probably grateful for it, especially on those blistering hot, humid days. We're here to share five creative ways to conceal the air conditioning unit outside your house so you can continue to enjoy both the view and the cool air.

The part of your air conditioning system that sits outside the house is called the condenser unit. It houses the compressor, the condenser fan and coils, and the electrical components that power it, per Carrier. This is where the critical process of cooling your home starts by compressing and condensing the refrigerant from a gas to a liquid. You may or may not be interested in the science of it; as long as it works and looks good, that's good enough. So let's get on with how you can do that!

1. Double up a lattice screen frame

This beautiful screen might be a DIY project or something you can hire a handy person to build for you. You can also find them on Amazon. The Remodelaholic team started by making three rectangular frames and used a staple gun to attach lattice to fit inside the frame, as shown above. They cleverly overlapped two layers of lattice to make a screen that really hides the air conditioning condenser from sight. You could attach the three sides with brackets or hinges, but the Remodelaholics show an even easier method by using zip ties to join the panels.

The screen could be made from untreated wood and then primed and painted, or from pressure-treated wood, which can be painted once you have left the wood to dry. According to Home Inspection Insider, this could take up to a month. Another option is to build your screen from plastic or vinyl lattice, both of which can be primed and painted if you don't want the traditional white. At a minimum, set the frame at least 12 inches away from the condenser on all sides, so it has plenty of air circulation.

2. Wooden slats

Another option is to build a wood screen using 2x4 boards, as Bob from I Like to Make Stuff did in the photo on the right above. Bob used untreated wood, which he painted white and then attached to wooden spikes so the wood frame didn't sit directly on the ground. Remember that even if you have a concrete pad under your air conditioning condenser, your screen needs to be at least 12 inches away from the condenser on all sides to allow for airflow. This could be another DIY project for someone with a little experience.

Josh Allen Builds made a more complicated screen pictured above on the left. What makes this a more challenging screen to build is that each of the boards is attached at an angle to form a louver. This has a lovely aesthetic and also allows for great air flow around the condenser.

3. Plant containers as screens

There are endless types of plant containers that you can buy or build that make beautiful screens for hiding an eyesore like an air conditioning condenser. Buy containers that are large enough to hold several types of plants with taller growing plants in the back and plants that will fill out and spill over the edges of the container on the sides and front, like these ideas on Pinterest.

These planters are a great solution for hiding the condenser, especially if the area is not well-suited to planting directly in the ground. Some planters, like the one in the photo on the right, come with an attached trellis. This makes it perfect to train plants to climb up and create a lush, natural screen. Most of these planters are on casters, which makes it easy if an HVAC tech needs to get into the unit. Since a condenser blows out hot air, keep your plants 2 to 3 feet away.

4. An evergreen hedge

One of the benefits of an evergreen hedge as a screen for your air conditioning condenser is the bushes also block some of the noise, per the University of Tennessee. Do some research online and consult staff at a nursery to choose the right shrubs for your climate, the amount of maintenance you want, and the location. Shrubs do not have to be planted in a row and can be interspersed with different height plants to create a beautiful garden.

Find out how far your shrubs need to be spaced in order for them to have room to grow. They will also need to be placed at least 6 feet away from the condenser, and you'll need to trim them around the back to make sure they don't grow close to the unit. Remember to keep enough of an opening on one side so HVAC technicians can get behind the screen when they need access.

5. Expandable faux greenery wall

For a quick and easy option, consider buying a faux greenery screen that can be rolled out and attached to a frame or an existing fence, or can even be purchased already attached to an expandable PVC frame, like the one shown here by NatraHedge. You can find these at major retailers and online shopping sites. The best part about this is that there is no maintenance involved.

You can purchase faux greenery leaves that look like climbing ivy, Ficus leaves, boxwood, and even some that include a combination of succulent plants and ferns like those offered by Wayfair. This means you can choose a faux greenery option that fits your particular climate. If you like the idea of no-maintenance faux-liage, another choice is to use an arrangement of artificial trees, like the bamboo ones from Nearly Natural. And, here's one extra tip: any of these creative ways to conceal an outside air conditioning unit can also be used to cover up your garbage cans!