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9 Best Plants To Hide AC Units

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Air conditioning units are essential to keeping our homes nice and cool. However, these machines often detract from the overall beauty of the house. If you're interested in hiding your AC with plants, then you may be wondering which ones are best. We've done the research and can help you with this important task! 

Plants covering your air conditioner should be tall and should preferably have foliage all year. We've listed 10 of the best types of screens for your AC below:

  1. Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)
  2. Boxwood (Buxus spec.)
  3. Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia)
  4. False Holly (Osmanthus heterophyllus)
  5. Hedge Bamboo (Bambusa multiplex)
  6. Cherry Laurel (Prunus lauroscerasus 'Otto Luyken')
  7. Common Juniper (Juniperus communis)
  8. Climbing roses (Rosa spec.)
  9. Chocolate Vine (Akebia quinata)

Owning an AC unit doesn't mean that you have to see it all the time! Keep reading to learn more about these plants that are capable of hiding your appliances. You'll also learn more important things, such as how close you can plant next to your AC and more!

Common Juniper bearing fruits, 9 Best Plants To Hide AC Units

Plants To Conceal Outdoor AC Unit

1. American Arborvitae (Thuja Occidentalis)

A old and dirty air conditioning unit covered with American Arborvitae

American Arborvitaes are evergreen conifer trees that can grow between 40 and 60 feet. These trees are frequently used in ornamental gardening, and they have several beautiful varieties to select from.

The Thuja occidentalis 'Sunkist' has yellow foliage in the spring that turns orange-yellow in the winter. This variation of the arborvitae reaches heights between 6 and 10 feet. Ideally, this plant should receive full sun to partial shade.

A fence covered with gorgeous boxwood with brick fences to cover a huge mansion at the back

Another option is the Thuja occidentalis 'Rheingold.' These shrubs reach heights between 3 and 5 feet with a width of up to five feet. They will grow into a more rounded shape than other American Arborvitaes.

2. Boxwood (Buxus Spec.)

Round boxwood fence

Boxwood plants are one of the oldest known gardening plants in existence. These shrubs prefer full sun to partial shade and are typically suited for USDA zones 5-9. Boxwoods are relatively low maintenance. They are commonly used for privacy and for creating hedges.

One great boxwood variety is the Buxus 'Green Mountain.' This is considered a shrub or a small tree. It has a mature height that is between 4 and 5 feet tall. So, these will be more successful at blocking larger AC units. These varieties enjoy full sun to partial shade. They are hardy for USDA zones 5b-8a.

In addition, the American Boxwood, Buxus sempervirens, is another excellent shrub choice. These evergreens need full sun to partial shade. They can grow to heights ranging between 15 feet and 20 feet. However, you can keep these shorter by pruning them.

3. Pacific Yew (Taxus Brevifolia)

Gorgeous pacific yew with red berries

The Pacific yew can grow as a tree or a shrub depending on where it's planted. One used as a privacy screen will look more shrub-like. Regardless, these evergreen conifers typically don't exceed 15 feet.

Ideally, you should give these plants anywhere from 3 to 6 feet of space when planting. The Pacific yew is hardy for USDA zones 5-9. They are resistant to shade, wind, and dry soil.

Unfortunately, this tree is poisonous. Its bark, leaves, and seeds can cause problems for people, cats, dogs, and horses. Pacific yews are susceptible to needle blight and root disease. They have also been known to rot from the inside.

4. False Holly (Osmanthus Heterophyllus)

A huge bush of False Holly

False Holly is a slow-growing, dense, evergreen shrub. It can grow between 6 and 21 feet high and between 5 and 10 feet wide. This low-maintenance bush is tolerant of alkaline soil, though it prefers acidic. In addition, false holly doesn't have any serious disease or pest problems.

You should plant these shrubs in full sun to partial shade. False hollies are hardy for USDA zones 6b-9. In the fall, these bushes produce white, aromatic flowers.

5. Hedge Bamboo (Bambusa Multiplex)

A small bamboo patch at a garden

An interesting plant you can use for privacy is the hedge bamboo. These shrubs can grow between 10 and 25 feet tall with a width between 4 and 6 feet.

Bamboo grows very rapidly. Each shoot will reach its maximum height within the first year. After that, all growth will be contained to the production of new leaves and branches.

Hedge bamboo tolerates full sun to partial shade. You should keep the soil moist when first planting. Once your bamboo is established, it is drought tolerant. These plants are hardy for USDA zones 6b-9.

6. Cherry Laurel (Prunus Laurocerasus 'Otto Luyken')

A huge Laurel tree planted near the fence

Cherry Laurels are evergreen shrubs that have flowers in the spring and fruit in the summer. The 'Otto Luyken' cultivar has won the Award of Garden Merit.

These plants prefer well-drained soil that is high in organic matter. While this cultivar tends to be more resistant to diseases than others, it still has its share of problems. The Cherry Laurel doesn't do well with high fertilization and is susceptible to shot-hole and powdery mildew. 

7. Common Juniper (Juniperus Communis)

Common Juniper with fruits on the branches

The common juniper is one of the most widespread species of juniper. It is considered an evergreen shrub or small tree. It has edible fruit and is very fragrant. The common juniper can grow between 5 and 10 feet high.

This plant can tolerate a range of soils, all the way from standing water to very dry conditions. The common juniper is hardy for USDA zones 2-8.

Unfortunately, this plant does have a low poison rating. Eating large amounts of its berries can cause diarrhea.

8. Climbing Roses (Rosa Spec.)

Gorgeous pink colored climbing roses

The genus Rosa contains over 300 different species of flowers. When paired with a trellis, many of the climbing varieties of roses are perfect for hiding an AC unit.

The Rosa 'America' has dark green leaves and pink flowers that bloom from spring until fall. This cultivar grows well in full sun and is hardy for USDA zones 4-9. These plants can reach between 10 and 14 feet in height.

You may also consider the climbing prairie rose, Rosa setigera. This is a medium deciduous shrub. As long as you provide support, it can grow up to 15 feet tall.

Without support, it will grow between 3 and 4 feet tall. This plant will produce fruits and flowers. However, being deciduous, you will be able to see your AC when the plant drops its leaves.

9. Chocolate Vine (Akebia Quinata)

A small white country home with clay tile roofing, dormer windows and chocolate vine crawling on the wall

The chocolate vine is a twining woody vine that is considered deciduous to semi-evergreen. This means that the chocolate vine will lose its foliage for a short amount of time before regrowing it.

Akebia quinata is hardy for USDA zones 5b-8a and is tolerant of many conditions. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun. However, it can tolerate different soil types and can withstand deep shade. Once established, they can also withstand drought, flooding, and deer.

This is a rapid-growing plant. It can reach up to 40 feet in height. You'll have to prune this frequently to manage its height. You should also be aware that some states may consider this an invasive species because of how quickly it can crowd other plants.

How Close Can Plants Be To An AC Unit?

At a minimum, you should place any plants at least 3 feet away from your air conditioner. Some recommend between 2 and 3 feet, while others recommend anywhere between 3 and 5 feet.

When planting trees and bushes, it's important to consider your plant's final height and width. If your mature tree will be 5 feet wide, then you should plant your bush closer to 7 feet away. When planting trees, it will be important to prune the branches so that they remain 5 feet away from the unit.

Remember that your air conditioner also puts out a lot of heat. If your plant isn't drought tolerant, the heat may cause damage to your garden. Also, be careful when selecting deciduous plants. The falling foliage can land in your unit, which can cause damage.

Should I Put A Fence Around My AC?

Using a fence is one great way to hide your air conditioner from view. You can use a fence alone or in conjunction with plants. When using a fence, it will be important to have an opening so you can reach the units. You should also still aim to keep between 3 and 5 feet of space between the unit and the fence.

Installing a fence can also help block the noise of the machine. Plants are also known for blocking noise. However, some plants are more effective at noise reduction than others.

In Closing

Common Juniper bearing fruits

There are many great plants that you can use to keep your air conditioner hidden from view! Evergreen trees like arborvitae are great hedges. You can also try something more unique like hedge bamboo!

Need more? Try one of the posts below:

17 Best Privacy Bushes And Shrubs

30 Tall Thin Plants For Landscaping Your Garden or Backyard