How To Hide A Generator With Landscaping

generator in backyard alongside bed of flowers next to blue home and green grass

When your power goes out regularly, there’s no question that a generator will make life easier.  Maybe you’ve been using a portable generator for years and you’ve finally decided it’s time to upgrade to a permanent standby generator.  Whether you’ve just experienced an ice storm in Austin, a hurricane in Miami, or a tornado in Oklahoma City, installing a permanent generator seems like nothing but a positive.  However, what about how the generator looks?  How should you shield it from view?  You may be wondering how to hide a generator with landscaping?

Considerations For Hiding A Generator With Landscaping

When you are considering how to hide a generator with landscaping, the first thing to look at is your installation manual for the generator for the clearance required.  If you haven’t taken delivery of the generator yet, ask your salesperson for a copy, or call / email the manufacturer for a copy of the install manual.  The installation manual will tell you what clearances are required around the generator. 

A generator usually requires at least 3’ all the way around the generator as clear space.  This is to prevent fires from starting at the exhaust of the generator, and to allow the generator enough space to have sufficient intake air for combustion, and air circulation to keep the generator cool.  

The next criterion to consider is the sound made by the generator.  What type of fuel is your generator going to use?  How often does it cycle during standby?  Usually a generator will cycle once per week at least when on standby.  In most cases you can control when this cycling occurs so you don’t have to hear the generator when you might otherwise be in your backyard.  As a rule, diesel and gasoline generators will be louder than natural gas and propane generators.  

How To Choose A Generator’s Location

Now that you have the clearances, have considered the sound made by the generator, you’re able to choose where to install the generator and how to screen the generator from view.

When choosing the installation location, usually you want to start with where the fuel source is coming from. You should also note where your electrical service panel is. Try to locate the generator as close to both of those as possible without affecting your design program negatively.  In some cases this can be a challenge. Also keep in mind the further you need to run gas lines the more expensive.  Gas lines are more expensive than electrical wiring in most cases.

How To Hide A Generator With Landscaping Fencing

As far as how to screen a generator, first there’s the obvious method. Many homeowners think that they should just put a fence around the generator.  While this can work in some cases, oftentimes a fence becomes far more obvious a screen than it needs to be

backyard display of how to hide a generator with landscaping via a black fence

Sometimes adding a fence can even mean you need to plant more around the fence to screen the fence from view. All this is to say that installing a fence can create more problems. Again, this is the right answer in many cases, but it doesn’t have to be.  You can screen a generator successfully with plantings if you have the space to do so.

How To Hide A Generator With Landscaping Plants

So what kind of plants are good around a generator?  Depending on your climate zone, using dense deciduous or evergreen shrubs or trees is best. After all, it’s no surprise that screening plants are great for hiding generators. However, make sure you know the installation height of the generator. 

backyards showing how to hide a generator with landscaping using dark green screening plants

If you live near the ocean, sometimes your generator needs to be installed on a generator stand to prevent inundation during a flood. This can mean you need taller plants to screen the generator. Depending on your climate, plants like Arborvitae or Boxwood can make excellent screen plants around a generator. When planting, just make sure to leave room for future growth.

How To Hide A Generator With Landscaping Summary

When choosing how to hide a generator with landscaping, there are plants to avoid. We’d recommend staying away from the needled evergreens like pine and hemlock if you can. These needles tend to find their way into the generator intake and on the vents and can lead to a fire hazard if you don’t keep them cleaned up.  

When planting your screening plants, plant them in an alternating row. That way you can have full coverage at the time of planting.  This allows the plants to grow. It also gives you a completely screened generator when your planting is complete.