Backyard Pool Landscaping Ideas

two people sitting near a swimming pool

Sometimes, there’s nothing better than splashing in your backyard pool, sipping lemonade and enjoying the sunshine. And by landscaping around the pool, you have the potential to enhance or completely transform the atmosphere into something that’s even more welcoming and beautiful.

Whether you add a protective fence or plant decorative shrubs, there are many pool landscaping ideas to consider. To help you make informed decisions, here are some important things to know about landscaping around your pool as you start to plan a design.

Choose the right plants

Ready to turn your backyard into a beautiful, swim-friendly oasis? Use these tips to guide your planting choices:

Take measurements

You might have an entire acre devoted to your inground pool. Or, you might have a small deck around an above ground pool. No matter what kind of space you have, plan accordingly. Bigger spaces can accommodate larger plants and trees, while smaller spaces look great with vibrant potted plants.

Plants that fit your climate

Before you plant anything, know which “plant hardiness zone” you live in. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has broken the U.S. up into more than a dozen different zones that correspond to each area’s climate. Knowing which zone you live in can help you select the greenery that’s likely to grow well there.

Plants that can handle pool water

Your plants and shrubs may get an occasional watering from people splashing in the pool. While that might not seem like a big deal, you want greenery that can withstand chemically treated water or salt water, depending on what’s in your pool.

How plants will grow

When you’re brainstorming pool landscaping ideas, don’t forget to think about how big plants and trees can become[i]. In a decade, a two-foot tree can spring up and block your afternoon sun. Or, its root system can break through your deck.

Ideal poolside plants

What plants are ideal for pool landscaping? Here are some pool-happy plants to consider.[ii] Remember to check your plant hardiness zone first.

  • Ornamental grasses like fountain grass, zebra grass and rush
  • Salt-tolerant plants like day lilies and Spirea
  • Vines like Creeping Jenny and sweet potato vine
  • Shade-lovers like evergreen ferns and hostas
  • Succulents like aloe and jade

Plants to avoid near your pool

There’s some greenery that you likely don’t want on your list of pool landscaping ideas.

Deciduous trees

Trees that drop leaves or needles can increase your pool maintenance chores if they shed into the water. Stick with evergreen trees and shrubs near the pool to create shade.

Flowering plants and trees

Nix any kind of fruit tree, berry bush or plant that attracts bees to the area.

Trees with invasive roots

Certain trees and plants have massive root systems that are so strong they can crack into an inground pool or rip through the lining of an above-ground pool.[iii] Mulberry, maple and elm trees, for example, all have extensive root systems.

Water loving trees

While every plant needs water to survive, there are some that have a seemingly unquenchable thirst. These plants can aggressively seek water, even if that means getting into your pool to access it. Willows, myrtles and sycamore trees are all water lovers to keep away from the pool area.[iv]

Pool landscaping safety and privacy

Your outdoor plans may include fencing or strategic landscaping that adds a “protective layer” to the exterior of the pool. Here are a few things to consider:

Pool Fence

While a pool is great for recreation, it can also be a hazard. To keep kids from wandering into the pool alone, consider adding a fence with child-safety locks around your pool.

In some areas, city or state law may require you to put a fence around your pool. Additional safety measures like pool alarms, gates and special latches, may be required as well. Check with proper agencies to make sure your pool and landscaping meet all requirements.[v]

Pool Hedges

There are certain landscaping choices you can make if you want to build barriers around your pool. A row of tall hedges can provide a natural fence, for example. A border of thorny rose bushes may also deter intruders.[vi]

Pool landscaping and insurance

Adding a pool to your property makes the space attractive. But a pool is also potentially risky, which is why insurance companies sometimes call this feature an “attractive nuisance.” Of course, before installing a pool you’ll want to speak with your insurance agent. It’s also a good idea to connect with an agent before doing any landscaping around your pool.

Pool landscaping can be considered an extraneous structure. It likely can be covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy, but you’ll want to declare it and have it listed on the policy. Keep in mind that pool damage caused by unmaintained landscaping isn’t usually covered. This makes planting strategically even more important.[vii]

A residential pool is a great amenity, and landscaping around it can create a dreamy outdoor space. However, landscaping requires some forethought. Create a plan, pick the right greenery and hire a great contractor or landscaping professional to make sure the project turns out as beautifully as you envisioned. Then, protect your investment by making sure you have the right level of homeowners insurance coverage.

[i] https://www.riverpoolsandspas.com/blog/best-and-worst-plants-for-pool-landscaping

[ii] https://www.thespruce.com/landscaping-ideas-for-pool-areas-4061234

[iii] https://www.riverpoolsandspas.com/blog/best-and-worst-plants-for-pool-landscaping

[iv] https://homeguides.sfgate.com/waterloving-trees-shrubs-25213.html

[v] https://childguard.com/blog/city-require-fence-around-pool/

[vi] https://dengarden.com/gardening/Best-Protective-Garden-Plants-to-Grow-to-Deter-Thieves-and-Burglars-from-your-Home

[vii] https://magazine.northeast.aaa.com/daily/money/homeowners-insurance/pool-landscaping-how-does-homeowners-insurance-fit-in/