The Q&A Archives: Planting the right shrub to give my A/C Unit some shade?

Question: My A/C Unit is on the ground next to my house between my neighbor and my house. It is in the Direct Sun all Summer Long. I am looking for a shrub or a tree that won't get too tall and that won't interfer with the eaves or with the foundation of my house? Plus one that can also provide some kind of shade against the sun and the heat to help keep my childrens rooms cooler that are also on the same side of the house that the A/C unit is on? Can you help by referring which kind of shrub or tree that I can use? Thank You if you can help me.

Answer: It's not clear to me exactly how much space you have. The most important thing when choosing plants is determining how much space they need to grow to maturity (both vertically and horizontally), and then comparing that with what your landscape offers. The next important piece of info is what sun exposure (full, partial, shady) they will thrive in. You mention full sun in summer, but what is the exposure the rest of the year as the angle of the sun changes? For example, a northern exposure can be full sun in summer and full shade in winter. It's also important not to plant something that will drop litter into the AC unit from above. I'd stick with taller shrubs, which will have less of a root system since it is close to the house. Contact the Phoenix City Water Conservation Department for a free copy of Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert. It is a color guide listing more than 200 low-water-use plants, along with size, sun exposure, growing and special characteristics (e.g., hummingbirds, etc.) Good luck!

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