A backyard pool is not complete without a well-designed and properly implemented landscape surrounding it. This includes everything from the types of plants and mulch used in surrounding garden beds, to the types of material used in the pool’s deck. It is important to recognize though that a successful poolside landscaping design has just as much to do with pool maintenance as it does with looks and aesthetics. This is because not all decking materials, plants, or garden bed material behave equally when exposed to elements like rain, wind, and extreme sunlight. Right now we are going to focus though on plants as these are the highlights and splashes of color along a pool’s border that help make the water seem more natural and inviting.
The number one consideration when choosing the types of plants to include in a poolside landscaping design is litter, or the amount of organic material that will be shed from the plant as the seasons change. Most pool owners know that things like leaves and twigs in a pool can throw off the water’s chemical balance and when left to sink to the bottom, they can even stain the surface. This is most easily avoided by choosing desert plants that stay colorful year-round without dropping very much material that can end up in the pool. Things like golden barrel cactus, agave, and bamboo muhly grasses are all great options that look good without creating a mess.
Height is another important consideration when choosing plants, especially in those areas closet to the pool’s edge. It is advisable to choose low growing plants, no taller than 4 feet in height, at least 6 feet from the pool’s edge. This is important because plants that are too tall and too close to the water’s edge can create shaded areas that will tend to lower the temperature of the pool on overcast or windy days, making for a chilly and unenjoyable experience.
One plant type to definitely avoid would be any and all turf grass. These are those grass types that might produce perfectly green and soft surfaces to run your toes through, but they can wreak havoc on your pool and surrounding landscape. This is because turf grass requires a lot of water for irrigation as well as the constant addition of pesticides and fertilizers to keep it bright and weed free. The heavy irrigation can overflow onto the pool decking causing unintended damage, and the runoff of additional chemicals from the grass into the pool can throw off the pool’s chemical balance or even cause algae blooms to form.
Poolside landscaping requires a lot of consideration in order to match your visual desires with easy to maintain plant types. Even before talking to a landscape designer, consider going out to your local plant nursery and talk to an expert about the types of things growing native in your area that would do well near a pool’s edge. During the planning process it will be a lot easier to visualize what a design will look like if you have first-hand knowledge of the plant types available to you. More than anything though, landscaping around a pool’s edge should be a fun experience and an opportunity to add a personalized splash of colors and textures for your family and friends to enjoy.