The Best Trees for Pool Landscaping

palm trees by pool in yard
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The landscaping around your swimming pool is central to the overall look and effect you want to create for your outdoor living space. If plantings are well chosen and designed, they will show off the pool to its best advantage. The wrong choices could detract from the entire scene. Research a potential poolside tree's ultimate height and canopy width so you do not end up with something that towers or takes over the pool area and yard.

What to Consider

  • Leaf drop: Make sure the tree you choose has minimal leaf drop and it is not messy. You do not want to be cleaning stuff out of the filter like seed pods, fruit, dead flowers, leaves, and other plant and tree debris.
  • Root system: Does the tree have a shallow root system? Roots can get into plumbing and cause concrete to crack.
  • Container vs. in-ground: Can the plant be grown in large containers, preferably on wheels—to follow or get away from the sun—and get out of the way when pool water is being splashed.
  • Match your theme: Does the tree selected reflect the theme of your outdoor living space? Some themes may be tropical, Japanese, Mediterranean, desert oasis, for starters.
  • View: At full maturity, will the tree block a view?.
  • 01 of 09

    Palm Trees

    Palm trees and a pool at night
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    In tropical or sub-tropical climates, palms are appropriate choices because their roots tend to grow straight down and they have a narrow spreading habit. When planted in a group or cluster, they can make ideal privacy screens. Palms that look attractive near pools include:

    • Sabal palm
    • Queen's palm
    • Sago palm
    • Cane palm
    • Windmill palm
    • Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis)
  • 02 of 09

    Citrus Trees

    A lemon tree in front of a house

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    Citrus trees add a pop of color and personality to a pool or patio garden. This plant also gives urban farmers or those with small-space gardens an opportunity to grow a fruit-producing tree.

    An advantage to growing a poolside citrus tree in a container is that you can move it around to follow or protect it from the sun.

    Some varieties of citrus trees are particularly suitable for growing in containers or small areas—this would be one of the trees you should look for.

    Tip: If it says dwarf citrus, it is the right size for a container.

    Your best fruit tree options are:

    • Lemon
    • Orange
    • Tangerine
    • Lime
    • Kumquat
    • Grapefruit
  • 03 of 09

    Banana Trees

    Banana tree with leaves and bananas
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    Banana trees (Musaceae) are actually not trees at all. This plant is an herb. But it certainly looks like a tree, so it is included in this list. Originally from southeast Asia, this fast-growing herbaceous perennial has soft, thick stems and spreads by suckers and underground roots to form clumps 6 to 10 feet wide or more. Its broad, large leaves (5 to 9 feet) give it a tropical look, but can be easily torn by winds. 

  • 04 of 09

    Japanese Maples

    A Japanese maple in a garden
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    Japanese maples (acer palmatum) are native to Japan and Korea and are considered both trees and shrubs. Most are slow growers, rarely reaching heights beyond 20 feet. These trees are much admired for their changing leaves and airy, delicate shape.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    False Cypress

    Variegated false cypress trees made in a hedge
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    There are several varieties also known as Hinoki false cypress (Chamaecyparis) that range from 2 to 25 feet in height. Some cultivars have a striking, lime or gold-tipped foliage, such as "Nana Lutea" and "Crippsi." Dwarf varieties are beautiful foundation plants for poolside rock gardens, adding density and texture without taking up lots of space. Hinoki false cypress likes a spot that is well drained with fertile, slightly acidic soil. It can be grown in full sun or partial shade.

  • 06 of 09

    Floss Silk Tree

    A floss silk tree
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    A native of Brazil and other South American countries, the floss silk (Ceiba speciosa) tree has been grown in California and western United States since the early 20th century starting in Santa Barbara. Easily identifiable by large spikes or studded thorns on its greenish trunk and branches, the floss silk is not a tree to plant right next to the pool—it could be dangerous to someone who accidentally falls into it or decides to climb it (definitely not advisable).

    Still, it is a strikingly beautiful tree that is semi-deciduous and can reach a height of nearly 60 feet tall and 30 feet wide. In summer and fall, large, showy, light-pink to rose-hued flowers bloom and are followed in the spring by large capsules that split open to release strings of white floss. The silk-like floss is used to stuff pillows in the tree's native South American habitat.

  • 07 of 09

    Fruitless Olive Trees

    An olive tree

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    Fruitless olive trees (Olea europea) are native to the Mediterranean and boasts soft gray-green willow-like foliage. Trees are slow growers, usually reaching heights of 25 to 30 feet. Olive trees are best looking when planted in deep, rich soil. It will grow in coastal regions and also areas with hot, dry summers.

  • 08 of 09


    Olneya tesota in profile
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    Also known as hop hornbeam, the ironwood (Olneya tesota) is a small, shade-loving tree with a slim trunk and sparse foliage. The leaves of the ironwood are pale green, finely toothed, and have a tissue-paper-like texture. Its buds are small, brown, and pointed.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Palo Verde

    Paloverde tree in full bloom
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    Palo Verde trees (Parkinsonia) are drought tolerant, which makes them perfect for arid regions where many homeowners have backyard swimming pools. The trees are noted for their green bark and willow-tree-like branches and leaves, along with beautiful spring blossoms. Top varieties include "Blue," "Foothill," "Sonoran," and "Mexican."