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What to plant around the a swimming pool?

What to plant around the a swimming pool?

Ah! Hot Summer days and sneaky drinks by the pool.  The invitation is out for the friends to come around but Shock! Horror! Nigel hasn’t been looking after the landscaping and it looks a mess. We think perhaps it is time to redo the pool area? How do you go about that? You wanna shop for your plants online and ok so what do I plant? 

Good design incorporates a range of strategies. 

  • Simplicity
  • Repetition
  • Focal points
  • Balance
  • Harmony
  • Scale

Attend to these and you are almost there.

When it comes to pools add the element of durability and maintenance. Is the plant species tough enough to handle reflected heat and will it drop leaves into the drink? How about plant height and limitations to solar access?

Here’s how we go about designing pool gardens.

Firstly consider your orientation to the sun you want to have the lower angle winter sun warming the pool so the backdrop plants should be on the southern side of the pool.

Secondly, select the theme and stick with it. In warmer zones, pools are tropical fixtures so leafy plants reinforce the theme. Use Pandanus, Giant Strelitzia, Cordylines, Crotons and Gingers. Southern zones may be more formally styled so go with clipped hedges and feature trees with understorey grasses. Think Lilly Pilly, evergreen trees and Agapanthus species. Just make sure your plants don’t drop leaves constantly. Fine leaves are easily captured by skimmers but if they sink and vacuuming is irregular, it looks untidy. Avoid flowering trees due to the heavy fall in the season, unless you like the appearance of floaters and consider it a small seasonal inconvenience. Don’t mix themes! Avoid fine leaves like Melaleuca.

Next, think about the focal points when viewed from different angles and place your wow plants there. Install up-lights for night appeal. Keep the harmony, simplicity and repetition thing going in the back of your mind.


If you have the joy of starting from scratch, you can think about the way the pool, no wait, the whole backyard even! is laid out. You can have the standard rectangular, rectangle over the larger rectangle, rectangular shifted 30 degrees, curvilinear, castellated, circular or grid. The layout gives drama and creates points for those architectural plants.

Often times the pool dominates the area leaving little space for plants. Don’t be too alarmed, you can get by with a bed of only 500mm width.  Alternately, affix a decorative panel or use climbers along stainless steel wiring.

Designing is simple provided you keep track of these elements- simplicity, repetition, harmony.


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