The prevailing design trend, when it comes to the great outdoors, is to have an exterior that is an extension of the interior living space. A pool area is no different. A first-time homeowner’s pool area can include an outdoor kitchen, patio, lounging area, a small spa, outdoor shower, and much more. The design of the surrounding landscape can support the intended function of your pool area, too.
When planning the landscaping around a pool, there are a number of practicalities to consider:
Plant Hardiness Zone
Whatever plants you choose should be suited to the climate you live in. Find out the hardiness zone of your region to make sure the plants you choose are suitable (and do NOT assume that your local stores only carry suitable plants).
Some plants need full sun (6 or more hours of direct light per day) and some prefer the shade. Make sure your plants’ preferences match the planting location. While some plants may survive in non-ideal conditions, a full-sun plant will only thrive in full sun.
If you have a green thumb and love to spend your time weeding and digging in the dirt, then by all means pick high-maintenance plants. If you’d rather spend your free time relaxing or socializing, choose easy-care plants that don’t need too much water or special attention. Perennials will come up year after year; annuals usually die in autumn or winter and don’t come back. Deciduous trees that shed leaves or flowers will make a mess of your pool.
Full Size At Maturity
When planting around a pool (and, indeed, anywhere), it’s important to be aware of just how big the plant is going to get. If you have a 12 inch space to fill, don’t choose a plant that will spread 3 feet across. Young plants will always seem too sparse, so just be patient!
Many plants will have small roots that won’t disturb tiles or patios or pool plumbing. However, some tree roots can cause a lot of damage as they grow, so choose trees wisely.
Choose a Theme
To create a feeling of continuity between indoors and out, continue your design theme. A classical landscape wouldn’t pair well with a mid-century interior, just as succulents and cacti look odd with a Victorian style house.
So if you do happen to have a mid-century interior decorated with small cacti and succulents, extend that theme to your pool landscaping — but go bigger! For example, aloe plants can grow very large and create a dramatic, sculptural look that would complement the look of a modern pool.
If your home has an earthy vibe that makes use of stone and wood and other natural materials, consider using those same materials in your landscaping. Groundcovers and ornamental grasses planted among boulders create a natural-looking landscape around a pool.
How often are you actually home during the day to enjoy your pool and the surrounding landscape? As a first-time homeowner, you are probably working hard and growing your career. So why not use lighting to create a second-to-none nighttime pool experience? Chris Griffin, owner of Unique Landscape and Custom Pools, says that the industry standard for a long time was one pool light. “There are so many different ways to light water features and the pool itself nowadays. Everything can sync and even color shows are possible. Most entertaining is done at night, so landscape lighting and pool lighting are important. Lights can make the difference between an average project and an extraordinary project.”
With the latest in landscape and pool lighting technology, you can create an outdoor space equally perfect for day and night entertaining or relaxing. Colored and color-changing LED lights that highlight your pool and landscape also add value to your property.
A Private Oasis
Most houses and yards have nearby neighbors, so creating a feeling of privacy is crucial for a space that is truly relaxing. There are a number of ways to create privacy:
This is the most obvious option, but fences can be a bit characterless. Remember that they can be livened up with shrubbery or vines.
Be sure to choose a variety that will work for you once it is fully grown, as bamboo grows tall really quickly and can get quite large. To control the spread of bamboo (they can spread invasively and become a real pain for homeowners), choose the clumping variety. “With bamboo, you have to be careful about which variety you use,” explains Joseph Huettl of Huettl Landscape Architecture. “Bamboo is usually put into two categories: you have clumping bamboo and running bamboo. If you don’t have root barriers, clumping bamboo is the better option.” There are some varieties that grow to around 6 feet and others that grow to more than 80 feet, so do your homework and choose carefully.
In warmer locales, like Florida, palm and palmetto trees of varying heights can be used to create privacy.
Not everything has to be planted in-ground. Large plants in large pots also work well to create privacy without creating a heavy or enclosed feeling.
Whether your ideal poolscape as a first-time homeowner looks more like a lush jungle or a minimalist’s dream come true, these pool landscaping ideas will serve you well by increasing the value of your home and helping you create a private oasis.
For the last 16 years, Rachel Kinbar has been a writer of articles, blog posts, white papers, essays, infographics, web copy, sales copy, scripts, poetry, lyrics, and more. She has keen research skills that she applies to a wide variety of topics, and she especially loves topics related to design, history, and sustainable living.