Gorgeous Pool Landscaping Tips and Ideas

pool with beautiful garden

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Choosing plants to go near a swimming pool should take a certain amount of time, research, and consideration. It's not just a matter of simply planting what you think will look good next to a pool. Some plants, especially trees, can shed into the pool, making a big mess. Others may have thorns or spines that can hurt swimmers. Certain plants may have invasive roots or fast growth—which may not be a good thing next to your pool.

Follow these tips and advice for making the smartest choices.

  • 01 of 08

    Things to Think About When Poolscaping

    High Angle View Of Leaf Floating On Swimming Pool
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    While living in a warm climate offers a wider variety of plant choices than many areas, those faced with the job of landscaping near a swimming pool still have the basic considerations pool owners in any region must confront. 

    Before making an impulsive trip to the nursery for whatever strikes your fancy, do some research. For example, beware of plants that shed. Those fruit and flower-bearing trees and shrubs may be beauties, but they make a big mess when their leaves, needles, fruits, flowers, nuts or catkins fall in and around your pool. Fruit and flowers equal extra work for the pool cleaner—either you or the person you hire.

  • 02 of 08

    The Ouch Factor

    Orange hybrid tea roses
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    You don't want to be playing a game of thorns, especially with swimmers and their exposed flesh near the swimming pool. Lovely roses have thorns or stickers, as do colorful bougainvillea, barberry, pyracantha, and luscious blackberry bushes. Add cactus and succulents to the list. Can you imagine your child accidentally sliding into a rose bush?

  • 03 of 08

    Choosing Low-Maintenance Plants

    agave growing near a pool
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    The landscaping near your pool should enhance its surroundings and often sets a mood, such as an island or oasis. You don’t want to be spending the bulk of your free time trimming and fertilizing your poolscaping, especially if it’s hard to access. Keep it simple. With the right plant selections, you can relax in your swimming pool and enjoy the scenery.

  • 04 of 08

    Deciduous vs. Evergreen

    tropical landscaping by pool
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    Let’s see, would you want the striking liquidamber tree that changes colors and sheds, or the evergreen Italian Cypress next to your pool? That means lots of pool sweeping vs. not so much. Hmm, that's a tough one.

    Consult your local nursery, arboretum, or master gardener program to become familiar with plants that are deciduous (will shed its leaves annually) or evergreen (keeps its leaves) for your region.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Invasive Roots

    Inground swimming pool with waterfall and flagstone decking in landscaped backyard in summer, Quebec, Canada. This image is property released. CUPR027
    Perry Mastrovito / Getty Images

    Over the years, trees and plants with invasive roots can damage the pool’s structure, its surrounding area, and its plumbing system. This list includes ficus, elm, and oak trees. Do your research!

  • 06 of 08

    Plants That Are Bee Magnets

    bees salvia
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    While the whole bee-hummingbird-ecosystem thing can be an amazing happening in your garden, you don’t want any pollinators mistaking your pool guests for an enticing honeysuckle or bottlebrush. Other bee-loving plants include:

  • 07 of 08

    Think About Ultimate Size

    woman at nursery
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    When buying plants, go by the “smaller is better” philosophy, and try to find specimens in one-gallon, four-ounce or six-pack containers. Be forewarned: Just because a plant starts out in a four-ounce pot doesn’t mean it will stay relatively small. Check the label. By knowing what you're getting, you can get some great deals on plants that often are only sold in five-gallon-or-larger containers. With the right care, the "little guys" catch up quickly to their bigger and often more root-bound siblings.

  • 08 of 08

    Natives vs. Exotics

    native landscape near pool
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    Nearby nurseries or botanical gardens usually feature plants that are indigenous to your area or will adapt well to your climate. You may be tempted by the idyllic images and order an exotic banana tree off some website, but you might be wasting your dollars if it’s not suitable for your neck of the woods. If in doubt, consult regional charts or your local nursery for plants that will survive and thrive in your yard and near the pool or spa.