Whether your swimming pool is brand-new or a few years (or even decades) old, it is a prime spot for a surrounding garden filled with beautiful trees, shrubs, and flowers. In your swimming pool design, consider not only aesthetics, but additional factors such as privacy, shade, and safety. Use these tips and plant suggestions as a guide while you install or revitalize your pool landscape.
Relief from the hot sun in the form of trees, shrubs, or manmade structures is a must-have when it comes to pool landscaping. Besides offering escape from the heat, they often create a focal point for the space.
The one tree trait you want to avoid is a towering plant that sheds a lot. Trees that are less likely to shed will make pool maintenance easier. If the tree does shed, place it so that branches won’t grow to hang over the pool’s edge. In warmer climates, a good choice is a palm tree, which sheds little and has a small root ball.
Although pool landscaping should include some shade either nearby on the pool’s pad or at one end of the water, trees should have less aggressive root systems to avoid uprooting any hardscaping.
Plant in Pockets
Starting pool landscaping from scratch certainly has its advantages. But that doesn’t mean you can’t redo an old pool landscape using the same plant suggestions and tips. As a key element, rely on including a small planting pocket garden right next to the pool—a little corner or small bed to offer color and provide visual relief from stretches of hard surfaces.
Try a tidy ornamental grass such as feather reedgrass, which can reach 4 feet and has flowering stems in late spring or early summer.
Landscaping around a pool with rocks may be a useful way to cut down on maintenace and add a natural element. If your pool landscaping features a more natural appearance with surrounding rocks or irregular pavers, it’s good to fill the in-between hardscape spaces with plants that soften, grow low, and spread, such as groundcovers.
Learn how to design a rock garden.
Containers with your choice of pool landscaping plants are a blue-ribbon pick to dress up the area around your pool, particularly if you lack the budget, time, or desire to change your permanent landscape. The one caveat: We recommend containers that match the scale of your pool.
Because pools—even if they are elevated slightly—are so strongly horizontal, it’s helpful to add a big raised bed next to the pool. The planting beds don’t have to be right up against the pool, since shedding blooms and foliage can add to pool maintenance. A well-done pool landscape will have all kinds of floral interest, drama, and height.
Raised beds aren’t the only addition that can add vertical height to a swimming pool landscape; containers filled with dwarf trees or shrubs can provide height, too. Stack containers in diminishing height and fill with cascading plants. Try a dwarf variety of burning bush, a deciduous shrub with leaves that turn red in autumn.
Creating a sense of privacy around a pool or spa is important. After all, your pool is meant to be an oasis and it’s not easy to relax if you feel exposed. Trees, shrubs, and fencing are all options. Pool landscaping should also include structures, such as pergolas and trellises.
Place containers planted with climbing vines at the base of a pergola. A good plant choice is wisteria, a deciduous, fragrant climber that blooms in white, blue, purple, lavender, or pink. The vines will soften the hardscape and lead the eye upward.
Furniture can also be a pleasing complement to your pool landscaping. Oversized outdoor table umbrellas do double duty in shielding you from view and the sun’s rays. Include outdoor rugs in your furniture arrangement to delineate living spaces (and cover up some of the pool’s pad, too).
Keep Bees Away
Bees are typically a much-desired visitor to the garden, but around a pool, a swarm of the insects can make kids and adults alike nervous. If you leave bees alone, they’ll leave you alone. And not all flowers attract bees.
For super simple pool landscaping, stick with shrubs and grasses. Dwarf evergreen shrubs in containers make a particularly fine choice because they don’t spread and have a tidy habit—plus varieties come in a wide range of colors. Ornamental grassesand other foliage plants are also top choices because they don’t offer blooms to attract bees. Before you select a flowering plant for your pool deck, make sure it is not a favorite of bees.