10 Pointers on Picking Perfect Poolside Plants

Installation may absorb the lion’s share of your energy and budget, but in the end, it’s often the little things that make or break a swimming pool. If you’re spending thousands – or more likely, tens of thousands – to build the perfect pool, you should take the time to nail the smaller details such as landscaping. That includes choosing the right trees and plants to complement your pool.

It goes without saying that you should choose vegetation that looks nice and grows well in your area. However, there are a few other considerations that might not be so obvious to a first time pool owner. Here are 10 things to look for (or avoid) when deciding which plants should go around your pool.

1. Look for plants that make your pool pop

In all likelihood, your pool is the centerpiece of your yard. Choose plants that frame and draw attention to your pool with complementary colors and shapes. For the “stay-cation” effect, consider tropical plants like hibiscus or birds of paradise.

2. Choose plants that can take the heat

Your pool and the surrounding deck reflect the sun’s heat, making the area abnormally hot. Plants that might thrive in other parts of your yard can wither when placed poolside.

3. Avoid plants that litter

Many plants drop leaves, fruit, nuts, or flowers that can clog skimmers and generally clutter up your pool. Avoid these plants, along with any others that require a lot of maintenance. You should spend most of your time relaxing in your pool area, not maintaining it.

Flowers and other plants surround an inground swimming pool
Not a pool most people can emulate. However, check out how the colorful flowers reflect off the water’s surface.

4. Get plants that don’t need a lot of water

Go for plants that thrive in dry soil. Too much irrigation around the pool can harm pool decking and equipment.

5. Pick hardy plants

In addition to heat tolerance, overall hardiness is another desirable trait in poolside plants. Overly delicate plants may not survive repeated splashes of chlorine water, or regular jostling by overzealous swimmers.

Garden pool with hanging plants
Plants hanging from a pool wall – great idea, if you can pull it off.

6. Avoid spiny plants

Your pool deck will likely see a lot of traffic – barefooted traffic. Cacti and other plants with spines or thorns shouldn’t be planted where people are likely to brush against them.

7. Plant for privacy

Next to a fence, trees and shrubs are the best way to keep your pool shielded from view. If you have a spa that you plan to use during colder months, consider evergreen plants to block it off year-round.

8. Plant for shade

A pool deck can heat up like a skillet during the hottest days of summer. Consider planting trees to keep parts of your pool and patio shaded and foot-friendly.

9. Avoid trees with invasive roots

Over time, trees with invasive roots such as elms and oaks can do a massive amount of damage to your pool shell, deck, plumbing, and other equipment. If you want to avoid a premature renovation, don’t plant one of these trees close to your pool.

10. Don’t plant something that will attract bees

You and your guests will have a hard time relaxing with a fruity summer beverage if your pool is the neighborhood hangout for bees. But on the bright side, at least you’ll be able to dive into the water if you get swarmed.