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Practical does NOT have to be Ugly

air conditioning backyard DIY garden

As the country is heating up I sit here comfortably in my cool house with significant gratitude for my central air conditioning. And here in Washington, it's not even as hot as many parts of California for example, where today it is scheduled to reach over 100 degrees. That is not for me. I melt easily.

Anyhoo, the central air does come with one small problem. The great big compressor thing that sits in the backyard is rather unsightly. It really doesn't meld with the overall forest scheme we have going on back there. Don't you agree? I'll never make the cover of Better Homes & Gardens at this rate with this unattractive monstrosity.

I did peruse at my local Home Depot and Lowe's to see if they sold an already-made perfect solution that would work, but nothing looked good to me. So my fingers started doing the walking on Pinterest and there I found hundreds of attractive and practical solutions. My fellow pinners are highly creative it would appear! So after kind of settling on a style I pitched the idea to the darling man.

A word about the darling man, my wonderful husband: he is not exactly a filled-with-enthusiasm DIY guy. He wants to be - I think - and he is extremely cooperative when I come up with these projects so I am grateful for his willingness to jump in. One of those things I love about the guy. But I digress...

We drew out a simple plan with approximate measurements and headed off to the hardware store.  After numerous conversations and ideas we came home with this:

Essentially, we determined the overall size of the compressor screen and using elementary school math, backed into our measurements. Here's what we got:

  • 2 -4x4x8 (pressure treated cedar)
  • 5 -1x6x6 
  • 6 -1x2x6
  • 2- 2x2x12

We wanted it to have some character so we staggered the width of the slats. (You can see in the background I had purchased some lattice which we didn't use for this particular project.) And there's the darling man! And yes, that is my very messy garage. Don't judge.

Naturally, we made a few missteps, mostly having to do with measuring the slats (measure twice, cut ten times if you don't) but we finally figured out a way to space them evenly. We screwed one in using deck screws. Next, we placed a 1x1 spacer, then aligned the next slat, screwed it in and so on. The 2x2s were perfect to add interest and hide the ends of the slats where they were joined to the 4x4s. 

Once it was assembled, we dug two holes the width of the 4x4 posts apart, half filled them with gravel and pounded the whole thing down. We used larger gravel to fill in the rest of the holes to stabilize the unit and covered that with bark chips which are already in that flower bed. After a quick coat or two of clear stain, we added solar post caps - like the ones used for decks - some climbing flowers and voila!

It really didn't take that much time and happily, it covers that silly looking compressor completely.  Happy dance!

What do you think?

Email me if you have any questions on this project, I'm here at

Happy building!

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  • Dawn Roznowski on

    This is perfect!
    Well done guys. I look forward to more inspiration. You rock!

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