Top 10 tips for landscaping around a pool

Landscaping around your backyard pool should be a labour of love, not an exercise in frustration. Here are our top 10 tips for creating a private oasis that will give you many years of poolside enjoyment.

  • 1. Say no to messy plants and trees.

    You don’t want plant debris like cones, needles, leaves, fruit and flowers to drop into your pool or stain your deck or concrete patio. Species to take off your list include larch trees, willow, poplar, black walnut and fruit trees.

  • 2. Plant for privacy, but not for shade.

    You’ll want to maximize the sun exposure on your pool if you want to swim earlier and later in the season, so don’t plant trees close to the pool, or stick to smaller species, such as serviceberry. Choose dwarf varieties of larger plants, and prune when needed. Privacy plants include ornamental grasses and bushes such as ninebark, dogwood and cedars. You can also grow perennial climbing vines, such as clematis and hydrangea, up a chain link fence for privacy.

  • 3. Plant with the future in mind.

    We all want instant gratification, but when it comes to landscaping, impatience can result in an overcrowded landscape and plants that, at maturity, are too close to your pool and other structures. Consider the full-grown height and breadth of your plantings and plan accordingly

  • 4. Choose chlorine-tolerant plants.

    Even if you have a salt-water system in your pool, you’ll still need to plant chlorine-tolerant varieties. In southern Ontario, hardy plants include groundcovers like ivy. Keep all plants at least a metre from the splash zone.

  • 5. Choose people-friendly plants.

    Fruit trees will attract wasps. Brightly coloured flowers attract bees. Roses have thorns and some ornamental grasses have sharp leaves that can give bare skin the equivalent of a paper cut. Some plants have poisonous berries. Go for interesting foliage instead of flowers, or plants whose blooms aren’t pollinator-magnets, such as foxglove, geraniums, zinnias and mums.

  • 6. Don’t forget winter interest.

    Evergreens and plants with interesting bark are great options.

  • 7. Design for drought.

    Dark-coloured concrete or a dark deck will absorb heat, which will be transferred to nearby plants, so opt for drought-tolerant plants. A clue to drought tolerance is in a plant’s leaves; small, thick, waxy leaves will lose less water in a hot environment than large, thin leaves.

  • 8. Know your roots.

    Plants, especially trees, with deep root systems can compromise the integrity of your pool structure as they grow. Avoid willow, poplar, sumac, maple, birch and species with vigorous roots such as wisteria.

  • 9. Plan for maintenance.

    Emptying filters and draining the pool are tasks that can douse plants in large amounts of chlorinated water, so plan your landscaping with a knowledge of where those activities will take place.

  • 10. Cut (out) the grass.

    Grass clippings will get tracked into your pool, no matter how far you think that patch of golf green is from the poolside. Plus, wouldn’t you rather be swimming than mowing?

Ready to picture your paradise? Why not try our Backyard Builder?