9 Recommended Trees for Landscaping Around Pools

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

When choosing a trees specimen to plant near your swimming pool, take into account:

  • Leaf drop: Make sure the tree you choose has minimal leaf drop and it is not messy. You will not want to clean seed pots, fruit, dead flowers, leaves, and other plant and tree debris from your pool filter.
  • 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? Tropical, Japanese, Mediterranean, or desert oasis themes may naturally call for certain types of trees.
  • View: At full maturity, will the tree block a view?

Here are 9 types of trees that work well for landscaping around a swimming pool.

  • 01 of 09

    Palm (Various Genera)

    Sabal palm

     

    M Timothy O'Keefe / Getty Images

    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 (Sabal palmetto)
    • Queen's palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana)
    • Sago palm (Cycus spp.)
    • Cane palm (Dypsis lutescens)
    • Windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei)
    • Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis)

    Once established, palm trees need water only twice a month, but water them several times a week while they are becoming established.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 7 to 11 (depends on species)
    • Color Varieties: Medium-green foliage
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Conditions: Sandy loam
  • 02 of 09

    Citrus (Citrus Spp.)

    Lemon tree and swimming pool

     

    Roetting / Pollex / LOOK-foto / Getty Images

    Citrus trees add a pop of color and personality to a pool or patio garden. These plants also give urban farmers or those with small-space gardens an opportunity to grow a fruit-producing tree. Some varieties of citrus trees are particularly suitable for growing in containers or small areas. 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. Tip: If it says "dwarf citrus," it is probably well-suited for growing in a container.

    Your best fruit tree options for home landscaping are lemon, orange, tangerine, lime, kumquat, and grapefruit.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 11 (depending on type)
    • Color Varieties: Green foliage
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Conditions: Prefers sandy loam but tolerates many soil conditions
  • 03 of 09

    Banana (Musa Spp.)

    Banana tree with leaves and bananas
    Johner Images/Getty Images

    Although it grows like a tree and is used as such in the landscape, bananas are actually herbs. 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. For landscape use, choose a tall variety, such as 'Cuban Red', which can grow up to 25 feet. These are tropical plants, so they require a sheltered location to protect them from cooler temperatures and winds, which can cause the plants to die back. Don't try to grow them in temperate climates, unless you are growing smaller potted varieties that can be moved indoors to protect them from cold.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Light to medium-green foliage
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Conditions: Rich, well-drained soil; prefers slightly acidic soil
  • 04 of 09

    Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)

    A Japanese maple in a garden
    Craig Tuttle/Getty Images

    Japanese maples are native to Japan and Korea and can be considered large shrubs or small trees. Most are slow growers, rarely reaching heights beyond 20 feet. These trees are much admired for their changing leaves and airy, delicate shape. Plant Japanese maple in a sheltered locations, as they do not respond well to windy conditions. Hot environments will require plenty of water to keep the soil moist; don't allow Japanese maple to dry out.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Light green, dark green, or burgundy foliage
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Conditions: Moist, well-drained soil
    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Hinoki Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa)

    Variegated false cypress trees made in a hedge
    Patrick Johns/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

    Also known as false cypress, Hinoki cypress is an evergreen conifer that can grow to 75 feet, although the cultivars used in landscaping typically 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. LIke most conifers, Hinoki cypress likes slightly acidic soil. Fertilizing with an acid fertilizer, such as formulation designed for azaleas, can provide this.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Dark green evergreen foliage; some cultivars have lime or gold-colored foliage
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Conditions: Fertile, slightly acidic soil
  • 06 of 09

    Floss Silk (Ceiba speciosa)

    A floss silk tree
    Wagner Campelo/Getty Images

    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. Still, it is a strikingly beautiful semi-deciduous tree that 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.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Dark green foliage; pink flowers in fall
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Conditions: Consistently moist, humusy soil
  • 07 of 09

    Fruitless Olive (Olea europea var.)

    An olive tree

    MOIRENC Camille/Getty Images

    Fruitless olive trees are native to the Mediterranean and boast soft gray-green, willow-like foliage. Make sure to choose cultivars that are fruitless, such as 'Wilsonii' or 'Monher'. Olive trees are slow growers, usually reaching heights of 25 to 30 feet. Olive trees are best looking when planted in deep, rich soil. They will grow in coastal regions and also in areas with hot, dry summers. Because it lacks fruit, this is a very neat tree that works well around pools and patios. These trees have good tolerance for drought once well established, but in the first year, give them plenty of water.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 8 to 11
    • Color Varieties: Gray-green foliage
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Conditions: Rich, medium-moisture, well-drained soil
  • 08 of 09

    Desert Ironwood (Olneya tesota)

    Olneya tesota

     

    MikeLane45 / Getty Images

    Also known as hop hornbeam, the desert ironwood is a small, shade-loving tree with a slim trunk and sparse foliage. It grows to about 25 feet tall; the leaves are pale green, finely toothed, and have a tissue-paper-like texture. Its buds are small, brown, and pointed. This plant loves arid conditions, so make sure not to overwater it. It is best planted well away from other plants that require more water.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 11
    • Color Varieties: Pale green foliage; pink or white flowers in spring
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Conditions: Dry to medium-moisture, well-drained soil
    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Palo Verde (Parkinsonia Spp.)

    Paloverde tree in full bloom
    Thomas Roche/Getty Images

    Palo verde trees include two species from the Parkinsonia genus—P. aculeata and P. florida. Both 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'. Mature heights are 20 to 40 feet, depending on variety. Palo verde trees cannot abide too much moisture, so make sure to plant them in soil that is very well-drained.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 8 to 11
    • Color Varieties: Pale green foliage, dense yellow blooms in spring
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Conditions: Sandy, well-drained soil