Landscaping Ideas for Pool Areas

pool and yard with landscaping
Poolside landscaping featuring native plants. Jeremy Samuelson/Image Bank/Getty Images

Carefully choose the plants that will go near a swimming pool or hot tub. Something that is attractive at 2 feet tall can grow quickly and drop leaves and debris into your pool in just a couple of years. Research the best plants, shrubs, trees and ornamentals that will survive and even thrive when planted next to a pool, and also blend in well with the rest of your landscaping.

What to Look for:

When selecting plants for landscaping your pool, consider:

  • Ease of maintenance
  • Safety
  • Privacy
  • Design and theme of your home, yard, and existing landscaping
  • Climate and microclimates
  • Size and shape of the area to be landscaped
  • Balance
  • Proportion
  • Unity
  • Variety
  • Color and texture
  • Scent
  • 01 of 09

    Succulents Near Pools

    A set of succulents near modern home
    George Gutenberg/Getty Images

    Succulents are increasing in popularity and are integrated with other plants in both front and back yards. That means they can be found growing poolside, where they can be foundation plants that are evergreen (or whatever color they are), sculptural in form, and hardy. Just make sure succulents planted near pools and spas don't have spines (thorns or needles). Why? Children and pool-goers are running around in swimsuits, with skin exposed.

    Many succulents don't have spines, or if they do, they can be small. Larger succulents with spines can be planted at the back of a border or raised bed. 

    The best succulents for pool landscaping include:

    • Aeonium
    • Agave attenuata
    • Aptenia cordifolia
    • Cotyledon
    • Crassula
    • Dudleya
    • Echeveria (some)
    • Euphorbia (some)
    • Kalanchoe
    • Plumeria (yes, it's considered a succulent)
    • Portulacaria afra
    • Sedum
    • Sempervivum
    • Senecio
  • 02 of 09

    Ornamental Grasses to Plant Near Pools

    Zebra grass near pool
    Orchidpoet/Getty Images

    Ornamental grasses can be low maintenance and visually striking near pools. These types of grasses are not the lawn grasses with which you may be familia—ornamental grasses include sedges, rushes, and bamboo.

    The best grasses to plant near pools include:

    • Yellow foxtail grass (Alopecurus pratensis 'Aureus')
    • Giant reed (Arundo donax)
    • Bamboo (some types; can be invasive)
    • Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
    • Blue fescue (Festuca glauca)
    • Fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum')
    • Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra')
    • Feather grass (Stipa)
    • Rush (Juncus)
    • Korean grass (Zoysia)
    • Phormium
    • Zebra grass
  • 03 of 09

    Vines to Plant Near Pools and Spas

    Mediterranean landscaping around a pool
    Lee Edwards/Getty Images

    Vines climb over walls and weave their way through fences and trellises. Most are fast growers and can quickly help to form a sort of privacy screen around pool areas, or can be trained as living roofs on arbors and pergolas.

    Vines we recommend:

    • Passionflower
    • Carolina Jessamine
    • Jasmine
    • Honeysuckle
    • Trumpet vine
    • Lady Banks rose
  • 04 of 09

    The Best Trees to Plant Near Pools

    SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

    Carefully choose trees that will grow near a swimming pool, keeping in mind ultimate growth height and width. While considering potential trees, look for ones that won't make a mess as they drop their leaves, flowers, or fruit.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Drought Tolerant Plants for Pool Areas

    succulent plant
    LeeYiuTung / Getty Images

    If you live in a dry climate or region experiencing drought, then landscape with watering needs in mind. Many plants are drought tolerant, especially after roots have been established in the grounds for a year or so with regular watering.

  • 06 of 09

    Container Gardens for Pool and Spa Areas

    Planters near a swimming pool
    Blend Images/Getty Images

    Container gardens can be beautifully arranged with plants that have similar care needs. They can also be moved around, depending on the time of year, occasion, etc. Choose hardy plants that follow the thriller, filler and spiller design technique, or plant just one type in tall containers.

  • 07 of 09

    Sweet-Smelling Plants for Pool Gardens

    The beautiful poolside of a waterfall with rocks
    TimAbramowitz / Getty Images

    Nothing smells better than the lovely fragrance that comes from nature itself, specifically sweet-scented vines, shrubs, and trees. Plant a few near the pool, patio, along a path, or where you dine outdoors. Some plants become more fragrant during the evening hours.

    What Smells So Good?

    Many flowering shrubs, vines, and even cactus have scents that you can't capture in a perfume or candle. That's why nothing can beat the real thing in a garden.

  • 08 of 09

    Tropical Plants for a Poolside Paradise

    Tropical landscaping by a pool
    Blend Images/Trinette Reed/Getty Images

    A pool surrounded by tropical landscaping is many homeowners' ideal for a private backyard retreat. If the climate permits, a pool area can appear more tropical with the addition of tropical plants like palms, bird of paradise, ginger, or other exotics. 

    Exotic-looking plants for pool-scaping include:

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Cactus to Plant Near Swimming Pools

    A hot tub with cactus landscaping
    JupiterImages/Getty Images

    While their spines are not something you and your guests want to come in contact with, cactus can be striking and natural near a pool in desert regions. Plant them in raised beds or containers far enough away from the pool and center of activity.