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Landscaping Ideas: Creating a Pool Landscape

Updated on February 27, 2011

Creating a proper landscape can greatly improve the enjoyment that you can reap from your pool. While many homeowners hire professionals to plan and create their pool landscape, this task and the result will be much more rewarding if you do it yourself. The major design considerations for a pool landscape are decking, plants, lighting and water features.

Take some time to consider the many things you will be doing with your pool. Parties, sunbathing, lounging, chatting and some swimming. The importance of the pool landscape is much greater than most people initially think, as it can make or break an important get-together or cause unnecessary stress during vital relaxation time. The following pool landscape ideas should help you form and enact a plan to maximize the space around your pool.

Image Credits:
Image Credits:

Decking for the Pool Landscape

Choosing the proper decking for the pool has a huge impact on the appearance and style of the landscape. Important things to consider include the material of which the deck will be made and the size of the deck. Consider what the primary purposes of your decking will be, and then compare with the basic types of decking and choose the best available.

Poured concrete decks are some of the most common used around pools. The cement coating keeps the surface cool, even during hot summer months. These decks, however, are unattractive and are ideal if few guests are expected.
Stamped concrete is another option that can add a more attractive flair as it can be embossed and colored to match the surrounding landscape.
Wooden decks are usually a lot more attractive than concrete, though they require more routine care to upkeep. If properly sealed and water-proofed, however, wooden decks can add a certain style to the pool landscape, especially if the wood matches the surrounding furniture and scenery. 

Image Credit:
Image Credit:

Choosing Plants for the Poolside

Plants make excellent accents for pools, and are a vital part of any landscape. Using the right combination of annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees will add variety and a constantly changing view, preventing the landscape from becoming stale. The exotic scents produced by the plants will further increase the appeal of the landscape. Be sure to choose plants that thrive in your area prior to purchasing.

  • Tall perennial plants are ideal for the perimeter of the landscape, and will confer a sense of privacy, working almost like a fence. Also, they won't die back during cold weather and will keep the pool protected year round.
  • Choose plants that are resistant to chemicals, as chlorine and other substances are commonly used around pools, and will affect the surrounding plants. Some plants, such as dracaena, are especially susceptible to impurities and chemicals in water, and are poor choices for pools.
  • Plant large, screening plants in a location that will block unattractive equipment, such as pumps and tools. These unsightly, yet necessary tools will only detract from the pool landscape.
  • Pick plants that are easy to care for, as a plethora of high-maintenance plants will require a large amount of time to upkeep, especially during spring and summer when the time should be used for rest and relaxation.

"Russian Rhapsody" Daylily

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Image Credit:

List of Plants for the Pool Landscape

Some plants are more suitable for the pool landscape than others. The following plants were chosen because of their attractive appearance throughout the year and are well-behaved, meaning they won't spread across the landscape or drop large amounts of leaves that require cleaning.

  • Indian hawthorne – An evergreen shrub popular for its large, fragrant, pink flowers that are produced during spring. These shrubs make ideal borders, and can be purchased in either single or double trunked formations.
  • Bigleaf hydrangea – A deciduous shrub with dark green leaves and extremely large, ball-shaped flowers that can be a wide variety of colors, depending on variety. Relatively care-free, though some leaf drop may occur during fall.
  • Asian jasmine – Asian jasmine is a dense, spreading ground cover ideal for filling up gaps in the lawn. The plant has dull green leaves and white, star-shaped flowers.
  • Pink azaleas – Azaleas are common shrubs valued for their masses of pink flowers and small, dark leaves that are present year round. Requires little care, though may begin to spread without pruning.
  • Heavenly bamboo – Another evergreen shrub with attractive foliage throughout the year. Produces small, pink flowers during spring and summer months. Requires little care to grow profusely.
  • Fraser photinia – A large, dense shrub that is ideal for blocking vision. Fraser photinia can grow up to 8 feet tall and 6 feet weed. The plant forms large numbers of white flowers during spring.
  • Daylily – Grassy perennial that produces ornamental purple flowers during summer. The Russian Rhapsody variety is recommended.
  • Sasanqua camelia – An evergreen shrub that flowers during late fall and early winter. Popular for adding color to the pool landscape during typically dull months.
  • Winter-blooming bergenia – Another plant popular for adding color during fall and winter. Also evergreen with dark green flowers year-round. Pink flowers form on tall spikes. Form a continuous border by planting about 18 inches apart.

Image Credit:
Image Credit:

Pool Landscape Lighting Tips

If you think back to the last time you saw a concert, performance or show, you realize how important lighting is to setting off a design. The same concept applies to pool landscapes. Proper lighting, especially during low-light hours, is vital to accent plants, the pool and other ornamental features of the landscape. Here are some useful tips for providing lighting to your pool landscape.

  • String lights up trees to improve the lighting of the backdrop. This is also useful for keeping the lighting balanced, so too many lights aren't excessively high or low.
  • Provide light for walk-ways and stairs to improve safety and ornamental appearance. Everyone likes to see where they're walking for many different reasons, and accidents will only harm the effect of the landscape.
  • Choose stand-out features to accentuate, such as fountains, statues or prized plants. Provide plenty of illumination to draw eyes to the ornament and away from potentially unattractive locations.
  • Underwater lights are important for a number of reasons. They allow swimmers to see the bottom of the pool, which is comforting to especially paranoid individuals. Underwater lights also allow for additional designs inside the pool to become evident.
  • Point light fixtures away from the home, so that it does not appear a bright blur when viewing from the house. This is important for monitoring the pool, especially when children are swimming after dark.

Rock Waterfall

Image Credit:'s List
Image Credit:'s List

Using Water Features in the Poolscape

Water features are an easy way to make your pool landscape both unique and exciting. Countless options are available that can make the scape more dramatic or tranquil, depending on the vibe that you're hoping to achieve. Remember that many of these features are extremely expensive, so check the price before setting your heart on one.

  • Sun Jet – A device that shoots water into the air and falls back on itself, similar to a geyser. These are usually placed in the center of pools or on a Baja shelf.
  • Deck jet – Deck jets are inexpensive water features that shoot water from the deck into the water. The water usually contains bubbles, making it appear white in color.
  • Laminar jet – Laminar jets are similar to deck jets, but shoot bubble-free water, making the streams appear to be glass tubes filled with water. This feature is rather expensive, though the effect is usually worth the price.
  • Sheetfall – A sheetfall is exactly what it sounds like, a sheet of water that falls down a thin, flattened spill way. The effect is a flat, clear wall of water. This is a relatively inexpensive water feature.
  • Sconce – A sconce is like a mix between a candle holder and a deck jet. Sconces are wall mounted jets that shoot streams of water into the pool. They are moderately expensive, but create a unique and appealing look.
  • Scupper – A scupper is simply a jet that shoots streams of water over a ledge. That are inexpensive and make great accents for sheetfalls.
  • Rainfall curtain – A rainfall curtain is similar to a sheetfall, except that instead of a single, continuous wall of water, there are numerous, pencil thin streams of water that form a wall.
  • Rock waterfall – Rock waterfalls are typical waterfalls involving rocks, and can be extremely simple or extremely complicated, depending on the amount of money invested. They are best with tropical or natural themed pools.
  • Waterwall – Waterwalls send a sheet of water cascading down and over the wall. They are relatively cheap, but have a dramatic appearance.


Pool Landscaping Tips

Information is your best friend when planning or decorating your pool landscape. Knowing what to watch for and what options you have will assist in the design and buying of the different features at your disposal.

  • Provide the pool landscape with protection from the wind. This will prevent trash, leaves and other foreign objects from blowing into the pool and surrounding area. An evergreen border or a privacy fence can block the wind and provide an attractive touch.
  • Avoid flowers and plants that attract bees, such as aster, butterfly weed, loosestrife, hyssop or lamb's ear. There is usually a large amount of bare skin at pools, waiting to be stung.
  • Cover the pool when its not in use to prevent water evaporation, keep debris from entering the pool and reduce heat loss, saving electricity. This can also prevent people from accidentally falling into the pool.
  • Choose a style or theme for the pool landscape, and then purchase items, features and plants that contribute to the theme, without detracting from the overall appearance. This will make the landscape more attractive and easier on the eyes, which is important when relaxing.

Pool Landscaping Lighting Ideas

In the following video, gardening and landscaping expert Jose Zuniga will demonstrate several different methods to light up your pool landscape, especially at night.


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