To shade an air conditioner outside, cover the unit with a canopy to protect it from sunlight, and surround it with shrubs, bushes and trees. Plant tall trees that develop large crowns with lots of foliage if you installed the air conditioning system in the south area of the house. Choose low trees if you installed the unit in the north, east or west side of the house.
The north region of the house is the most favorable area for keeping an air conditioning system cool. Choose deciduous trees that grow up to 6 or 8 feet when shading an air conditioner located in an area other than the north side, as these trees provide ample sun protection within a year after planting them.
Plant two or more trees near the air conditioning unit to maintain its optimal performance. Plant bushes and shrubs nearby, but leave adequate space to avoid obstructing air flow to the system. Expand the shaded area by planting lots of bushes, shrubs and trees, allowing the air conditioning system to stay cooler throughout the day and preventing it from pulling in warm air from the exposed, hot areas.
Plant low-growing shrubs near concrete pathways, as pavement absorbs lots of heat and contributes to warm air above it. Additionally, build an awning if there's a large patio near the air conditioner.