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How to Landscape Around a Swimming Pool: Design Ideas and Maintenance Tips

By Ed Ball | Published on February 29, 2024 | 8 min read

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Creating the perfect landscape around your swimming pool involves strategic planning and a genuine understanding of how elements work together. For everything to sit in harmony, you must consider factors like the pool’s shape, size, and location when arranging seating areas, walkways, and planting zones. Surprisingly, not all plants thrive near pools due to splashes and reflected sunlight. 

For example, evergreens like boxwood, ornamental grasses such as fountain grass, or perennial flowers like daylilies are excellent choices that withstand these conditions well. It’s not just about planting any tree or flower; it’s about choosing the right ones. Now let’s talk about design essentials.

Design Essentials for Pool Landscaping

When designing the landscape around your swimming pool, you want to create a space that is not only beautiful but also functional. Start by considering the shape, size, and location of your pool. This will help you plan the layout of the surrounding elements effectively. For example, rectangular pools often lend themselves to a more formal, structured landscape, while curvilinear pools allow for a more organic and free-flowing design.

Moreover, take into account the size of your pool deck and factor in elements like seating areas, pathways, and planting zones. These features can greatly enhance the overall appeal and usability of the pool area. By strategically placing these elements, you can create a balanced and harmonious landscape that complements the pool and its surroundings.

For instance, incorporating a seating area adjacent to the pool provides a designated space for relaxation and entertainment. A pergola or umbrella can offer shade and shelter from the sun, creating a comfortable oasis for poolside lounging. Pathways made of materials like pavers or natural stone can guide visitors around the pool area and connect different outdoor spaces in your backyard.

The choice of plants and landscaping materials also plays a significant role in the overall design. Opt for low-water plants that can tolerate rocky and potentially dry conditions, especially if you live in a region with hot summers. This includes evergreen shrubs, ornamental grasses, and flowering perennials as they can thrive in such environments with little maintenance.

Choosing Plants: From Trees to Flowers

When planning your poolside garden, it’s crucial to consider how certain plants will interact with the water, sun exposure, and foot traffic. The goal is to create a serene and inviting setting while ensuring that the chosen plants can withstand potential splashes, reflected sunlight, and humidity.

Consider incorporating evergreen shrubs like boxwood into your pool area. These low-maintenance plants not only provide lush greenery year-round but also offer a sense of privacy due to their dense foliage. Additionally, they can tolerate rocky and potentially dry conditions – making them an ideal choice for the pool environment where soil might be compacted or difficult to access for regular watering.

Another excellent option for poolside landscaping is ornamental grasses, such as fountain grass. With their graceful blades and attractive plumes, they add a touch of elegance to their surroundings. Moreover, these grasses require minimal care and can thrive in various soil types.

Moreover, when considering trees for your pool area, opt for those with non-invasive root systems to prevent damage to the pool structure. Selecting smaller trees or those that shed fewer leaves can help minimize debris in and around the pool, reducing maintenance needs.

By carefully selecting a variety of plant species that can thrive in the pool environment, you create a beautiful landscape that enhances the overall appeal of your pool area while minimizing maintenance efforts.

Choosing Between Grass or Decking Materials

When it comes to your poolside landscape, deciding between grass and decking materials is a significant choice. Each option brings its own set of advantages and considerations. Let’s explore the factors that can help you make an informed decision.

Grass: If you love the idea of a lush green landscape surrounding your pool, natural grass is a classic and appealing choice. It creates a soft and natural ambiance, providing a cooling effect and a pleasing aesthetic. However, maintaining natural grass around a swimming pool can be demanding. You’ll need to mow, trim, and water it regularly to keep it looking its best. Also, grass may struggle to thrive in areas directly adjacent to the pool due to chlorine or saltwater exposure.

Decking Materials: On the other hand, decking materials offer durability and low maintenance, making them an increasingly popular choice for poolside landscaping. Composite decking, made from a blend of wood fibers and plastic, provides excellent resilience against moisture, insects, and fading. Natural wood decks are also an attractive option, offering warmth and character to the space. Additionally, various innovative technologies offer slip-resistant surfaces for added safety around pools.

Both grass and decking materials present unique advantages, but they do require careful consideration based on various factors such as climate, personal preferences, maintenance capacity, and design aesthetics.

For example, if you live in a region with prolonged dry spells or water restrictions in place, natural grass might become difficult to sustain. In such cases, opting for a composite or natural wood deck will alleviate the need for frequent watering and upkeep while maintaining an inviting appearance around your pool.

Ground Cover Options and Landscape Pathway Designs

When landscaping around a swimming pool, ground cover options play a crucial role in establishing the aesthetic appeal and functionality of the area. The right ground cover should be visually appealing, low maintenance, and practical for a pool environment. Let’s explore some popular ground cover options alongside different pathway designs that can elevate the overall look of your poolside landscape.

Ground Cover Options:

  1. Gravel: Gravel is a versatile and cost-effective option for poolside ground cover. It provides texture, drainage, and visual interest to the landscape, creating a natural, rustic look—ideal for an inviting and low-maintenance pool area.
  2. Mulch: In contrast to gravel, mulch offers a softer appearance and helps retain moisture in the soil. Choose water-resistant and durable varieties to complement the lush greenery around the pool.
  3. Artificial Turf: For a lush and uniform appearance without the maintenance demands of natural grass, artificial turf is an increasingly popular choice for pool landscaping.

Landscape Pathway Designs:

  1. Natural Stone Pathways: Blending harmoniously with the surrounding landscape, natural stone pathways add elegance and texture—crafted from various stone types such as flagstone, slate, or limestone for durability and timeless appeal.
  2. Geometric Patterns: Incorporate geometric pattern pathways using pavers or concrete tiles for a modern and structured design approach, defining specific areas within your pool landscape while adding contemporary flair.
  3. Mosaic Designs: Mosaic pathways infuse color and personality into your poolside landscape, are customizable to complement the style of your pool area, and serve as focal points within the design scheme.

The right blend of ground cover options and pathway designs sets the stage for an exceptional poolside ambiance. As we transition to the next phase of perfecting your pool area, let’s delve into selecting furniture and lighting to maximize comfort and ambiance.

Poolside Furniture and Lighting Selection

First, let’s consider poolside furniture. Look for pieces that are not only durable and weather-resistant but also comfortable and stylish. Materials like teak, aluminum, or resin wicker are excellent choices for outdoor furniture as they can withstand exposure to sun, rain, and pool water without losing their charm.

In addition to comfort and durability, it’s also important to consider the aesthetic appeal of the furniture. The design should complement the overall landscape theme and architecture of your home. Whether you prefer a sleek, modern look or a more traditional style, there are plenty of options available to suit your preferences.

Don’t forget about functionality: consider storage options for pool towels, sunscreen, and other essentials to keep the area neat and tidy. Side tables or coffee tables with built-in storage can be both practical and stylish additions to your poolside space.

Moving on to outdoor lighting, it serves a dual purpose of enhancing the ambiance of the pool area while also ensuring safety during evening activities. Strategic placement of lights around the pool deck, pathways, and seating areas creates a warm and inviting atmosphere after dark.

Choosing weather-resistant fixtures that can withstand outdoor elements is essential. LED lighting is an energy-efficient option that provides ample illumination while being cost-effective in the long run.

Moreover, consider incorporating smart lighting features that allow you to control the ambiance through dimmers or color-changing options. This technology offers flexibility in creating different moods for various occasions, whether it’s a lively pool party or a tranquil evening by the water.

Maintenance Tips for Pool Landscaping

Maintaining your pool landscape involves more than just keeping it tidy; it’s about preserving the beauty and functionality of the space. One crucial aspect of maintenance is pruning the plants. Regular trimming of bushes and trees helps maintain their shape and prevents overgrowth, ensuring they remain a complementary part of your pool environment rather than becoming a hindrance.

The recommended frequency for trimming bushes and trees is every 3-6 months, depending on the growth rate of the specific plant species in your pool landscape. By staying on top of this task, you not only maintain a neat and well-groomed appearance but also reduce the risk of branches encroaching on the pool area or becoming a potential hazard.

Imagine a well-manicured landscape around your pool where the plants are neatly pruned and trimmed; not only does it enhance the visual appeal, but it also creates a safer and more enjoyable outdoor space for you and your family to relax in.

In addition to pruning, monitoring irrigation systems is essential for effective water management in your pool landscape. Regularly checking for leaks, ensuring proper water distribution, and adjusting watering schedules according to seasonal changes can significantly impact plant health while helping conserve water—a valuable resource.

Reach Out To Us For The Best Pool Design And Landscape Architecture Services in Northern Virginia

When landscaping around a swimming pool, consider using low-water plants that can tolerate rocky and potentially dry conditions. Opt for a rustic, Mediterranean-style courtyard design for a charming and low-maintenance landscape. Incorporate shade structures such as pergolas or umbrellas to provide relief from the sun, and add potted plants strategically to add color and versatility to your poolside landscape.

To explore more ideas or get professional assistance with your pool landscaping, don’t hesitate to contact our experts at Landscape Architect Northern Virginia.