How can I disguise a central air unit/compressor?

alielizaJuly 11, 2006

I just moved into an apartment with a fenced back yard. Unfortunately, there is a central air compressor in the backyard for the dentists office downstairs. It is really unsightly. I would love to disguise this, but am not sure how to do it. I would rather plant a flowering bush of some sort, than build a fence. I would prefer that it didn't grow too high, the unit is 2.5'wide x 3' high x 3' deep. I need to plant it probably about 18" away from the unit, so as to not block the vents, and to allow someone to access it should it need to be serviced.

Here are some photos:

**I know what youre thinking: "You have a lot more work to do than just planting around that compressor" -- We just moved in and there is a lot of work to do!**

I was thinking maybe hydrangea, or rhododendron, but as the yard is small, I would like something that doesn't grow out too much.

Any advice or input is greatly appreciated.

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If it were mine, I'd pick something evergreen so it would be hidden in winter as well.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 7:31PM
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it's a common mistake to use a showy "look at me" plant to hide something you don't want to see. All you will do is draw your eyes straight to it. Play it down. Use evergreens that won't standout with colors. But even then when you plant around something like an impenetrable barricade, it can simply had mass to the thing and your mind will concentrate on it. I recommend an open type fence like a board on board and then a nice airy arborvitae off center. Put the flowering shrub in the other corner for balance and to draw your attention.

lastly, take a tool box and a portable air tank, spread them about on the ground around the unit, then crouch down beside it and consider this, even I - a life long plantsperson, would kick your plant to death in frustration of having no access to do my repairs!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 10:49PM
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Nice suggestions, thank you!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 11:59PM
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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

I'd paint it AND the fence some disappearing a soft, darkish green...including the pipes and such (check first to make certain you won't void any warranties-hurt the unit) but that's just me. Alternatively, or if warranties are an issue--couldn't you erect some sort of latice structure around the two visisble sides (don't want to restrict the air flow) and then let the lattice weather to the same gray/brown as the fence?

melanie--thinking OF boxes instead of outside them--for a change...

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 11:46AM
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Fori is not pleased

I kind of like the texture and color of the fence--a lattice box could be nice with it.

Depending on your zone and the shade situation, there are many plants that would help. It looks like a perfect use for a dense clumping bamboo like a Fargesia, if the site and zone are right. But maybe you need to think what you want the overall "type" of yard to be first so whatever you stick in will go together. You know, just a general idea so your yard won't look like mine. ;)

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 12:45PM
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I used a TALL trellis. If you use something short or the same height as the AC unit it will draw attention to the fact that you are trying to hide something.

Maybe add another trellis somewhere else in the garden to unify things and give the impression that the trellises are part of a design plan.

A trellis with vines will allow air to flow through, and can be set back far away enough from the AC unit not to interfer with the operation and repair. A trellis with a vine also does not take up much "floorspace".

It can be easily removed if need be. I am assuming you will not be collecting any rare plantings that would be costly to tear out if it is needed.

I never undrstood why people try to hide hose reels, AC units, wells, gargage cans and such, with fencing that is the same hight as what they are trying to hide. That only draw attention to the problem.

Using a bush or large planting may not be a good idea. It will take years for it to acheive a useful height and then it may eventually get too big and need to be removed. Somethings like Rhodendruns grow slowly and don't take kindly to pruning when they get big.

Something tall that does not take up much room is the way to go. It draws the eye upwards and away.

As far as needing something evergreen, that is a good idea to consider. I personally don't need something evergreen to hide my AC unit since the 3ft. of snow in my backyard does that for me.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 4:09PM
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"I used a TALL trellis. If you use something short or the same height as the AC unit it will draw attention to the fact that you are trying to hide something.
Maybe add another trellis somewhere else in the garden to unify things and give the impression that the trellises are part of a design plan."

I like that! it could set the whole tone for an overall look. very cool

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 7:18PM
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I really like the idea of a trellis, bud_wi, but how do you mean? Based on my pictures, could you describe where you are thinking of placing it? You would definitely still be able to see it, correct, but it will draw the eye upward??

Thanks for the input!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 10:03PM
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Hi. I didn't see this last post until now and I am sorry I did not answer your question right away. I usually don't do 'hit and run' postings.

You image hosted pics are gone now and I do not remember exactly what your AC unit/garden looked like.

I don't know how to post pictures so I can't post mine but I will try to describe it.

My AC is at the corner of my house, so two sides were within view and one side was against the house and the far side was against the neighbors yard.

I got two, tall trellis and just put one in front of the AC and one along the side. The trellis are at right angles to each other. I didn't care about the view from my neighbors yard. If I did, I suppose I could have added a third trellis and made a "U" shape out of them, going all around the AC unit, but I didn't want it to look like I had a tall 'box' in my yard growing vines. If my neighbors don't like looking at my AC unit, they can put up a fence. LOL.

I have them far enough away from the AC unit to let air go around and the vines hide everything - clematis on one trellis and morning glory on the other give different bloom times.

Using a TALL trellis makes the viewer's eyes draw up. If one uses a short 36" high fence or trellis it tends to make the viewer wonders what is behind it. Also one can usually look over a short one and see the top of the AC unit. A short trellis LOOKS like you are hiding something. The height doesn't "fit" with any design plan. A tall trellis looks more like it was put there to add beauty.

Nearby, in another garden bed, on the other side of the walkway, I have a pyarmid trellis, also with morninglories. This unifies things and makes it look like a 'plan'. I also have another flat trellis on the other side of my yard near the garage, but not against it, that I grow climbing nastutians on.

Right now I have a low wide trellis with vines hiding my garbage can and I am thinking about going with a tall one maybe.

If I remember your pics correctly you have and AC unit in the corner of your yard near a fence. You could put one trellis on say 'side A' and in front of 'side B', leaving alone sides 'C and D' that are facing the fence.

For balance, plant a couple low growing things in front of the trellis so that it blends and flows with the rest of your garden planting. Maybe add some statuary nearby or put another trellis somewhere in you yard to make your AC unit trellis look like part of an overall plan.

I hope I was able to make things clear and convey how my trellis thing works. It is hard to describe in words something that pic would show. I gotta get me one of those digital cameras and teach my old self how to use it. :)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 4:47PM
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Didn't get to see your pictures, but this is what we did. Not sure that it really hides the compressor, but it does make the area much more visually appealing. It is a clematis called Marmori.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 6:35PM
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Cute pic!

That is how my AC unit is situated. I used two trellis, side by side at right angles. The unit is completely hidden. The neighbor's side and the side against the house is left alone.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 1:47AM
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