Xeriscaping (Dry Landscaping) Around Your Outdoor HVAC Unit

What is Xeriscaping?

Xeriscaping is a water-saving landscaping style, great for dry climates, improving drainage, reducing lawn upkeep, and enhancing beauty. The term combines the Greek word “xeros,” meaning dry, with the Dutch word landscaping.

Xeriscaping can range from simple to complex. While you might be conjuring up images of cacti and harsh desert landscapes, there is a diverse range of colorful plant species to choose from, including grasses, perennials, vines, and shrubs. Many times, native plants are chosen since they have naturally evolved to survive the local climate. Xeriscaping usually involves some combination of rock/masonry, mulch, hardy plants, soil improvement, and water-saving irrigation methods.

Getting Started

A great way to introduce yourself to xeriscaping is by focusing on just one area of the yard and taking that knowledge from your experience to landscape other areas. The best place to start is right around your outdoor HVAC unit. Not only will you improve the efficiency and cut down on maintenance, but it will also look a lot nicer as well.

Why Xeriscape Around Your HVAC Condenser?

From Visually

Besides saving water and reducing your environmental impact, you will improve your HVAC system’s efficiency and lifespan by ensuring proper airflow and reducing the need for outdoor maintenance. If grass is growing around the outdoor condensing unit, the grass clippings will eventually get sucked in and cause clogged condenser fins. Xeriscaping will eliminate this problem.

How to Xeriscape Around Your HVAC Unit

There is no one way to xeriscape around your HVAC unit. It mostly depends on your preference:

  1. Bricks
  2. Stones
  3. Granite
  4. Clay
  5. River Rocks

Click here to see 1000+ xeriscaping and rock garden ideas for inspiration. If you do plant around your condenser, make sure they grow up, not out. And remember, plants grow so don’t plant anything too close. You should maintain a minimum 3-foot clearance around the outdoor unit. Xeriscaping around your outdoor HVAC unit is easy and inexpensive, you just have to make the time.

How Not to Xeriscape Around Your HVAC Unit

No matter what material or style you choose, be aware of the following potential pitfalls:

  1. Sand and dirt – Small rocks, dirt, and debris can an easily blow around and get into your condenser fins and coil.
  2. Shedding vegetation – Any plant or tree that drops fruit, flowers, leaves, or seeds should be planted away from the HVAC unit. Although a condenser unit that is shaded performs more efficiently, it’s not a good idea to plant trees around the unit and risk falling leaves and tree branches. Instead, try putting up a trellis and climbing vine.
  3. Spiky, thorny plants – This is a courtesy to your HVAC technician, who should be inspecting your outdoor unit every year. Sign up for a home maintenance plan to make sure your HVAC system gets the proper annual care it needs.
  4. Minimum 2-foot clearance – Measure completely around your condensing unit to make sure there is nothing within a 2-foot range. If you do plant anything, give it an extra 2 feet of breathing room. There shouldn’t be anything on top of the unit either.

Watch this video for more HVAC landscaping tips:

Just be careful about hiding the view of your unit from the street since copper and refrigerant thieves may find the privacy tempting. Also keep in mind that your HVAC technician needs to be able to easily access the unit.

Contact Service Champions today to schedule a service appointment with one of our expert heating and cooling technicians.

Service Champions is known for trustworthy, on-time heating and air conditioning service throughout the East Bay, South Bay, and Sacramento areas.

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