Add Some Color to Poolside Landscaping

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Those of us gardeners, who are lucky enough to have a pool in our yard, have probably spent countless hours looking for advice on the best type of plants to include in the landscaping around the pool.

Most gardeners realize that plants that drop a lot of leaves or have invasive root systems need to be kept away from swimming pools, but quite often the advice focuses on planting palms, grasses and foliage plants to give the area around the pool a lush tropical feel.

For example, this article about planting around home swimming pools recommends using fan palms and philodendrons to achieve that look, and cacti for dry climates where sub-tropical foliage plants would struggle.

That’s good advice, but what gardeners often find when their landscaping is established is that it is missing color.

Green, green and more green might look good if you are trying to recreate a rainforest feel, but pool landscaping looks more exotic if there are splashes of color in amongst the green foliage.

It might well be necessary to stick to bamboos (the non-invasive type), tall grasses and dense foliage plants if you are trying to screen some pool pumps or a filtration unit, but around the rest of the pool it is best to intersperse the foliage plants with flowering shrubs.

Hibiscus a good choice for warmer climates

In the warmer parts of the country, hibiscus is an excellent choice because they are free flowering and there are many different hybrids available in almost every color under the sun.

Hibiscus does not drop a lot of leaf litter and they respond well to pruning if they start to get too lanky. Most only grow to 3-6 feet tall, but some species can grow as high as 12 feet making them more suitable for backdrop planting away from the pool.

And having hibiscus around the pool, the ladies will love to pick a flower and place it behind their ear and imagine they sitting by a pool in Hawaii!

There are several hundred different species of hibiscus suitable for regions from warm temperate to tropical, so select a species that is suitable for your local climate.

Heliconias and Bird of Paradise are other great options for poolside planting in warm areas because they do not drop their leaves at all.  They die off gradually and turn brown. They are easily removed with pruning shears or scissors.

Although the Bird of Paradise does take a few years before it starts flowering, it’s a great option for poolside planting because it flowers in both the winter and spring, so adds a splash of color in the garden at times when other shrubs are still waiting for the warmer spring weather.

None of these flowering plants are bothered too much by the occasional splash of chlorinated or salt water, but if too much of the pool water ends up on the plants near the pool, just hose them down with tap water as soon as you can.

A clump of heliconias near the pool also provides a ready source of cut flowers through the summer months for decorating inside the home.

Choices for cooler climates

In cooler climates, rhododendrons, azaleas and hydrangeas are all good choices, but go for the evergreen species of azalea to minimize the leaf litter. Roses are not a good choice around pools because the thorns can easily scratch swimmers.

The cooler the climate the more challenging it will be to find free flowering plants that don’t drop a lot of leaf litter, but most nurserymen will have recommendations that they can make for your area.

It’s a question that nurserymen are often asked because it’s not just swimming pools where leaf litter can be a problem, but fish ponds and other water features too.

If your yard doesn’t have a lot of additional space around the pool for extensive landscaping, then consider growing annuals or flowering shrubs in large pots and placing them around the pool to add color to the landscape.

In locations where there are large trees shading the pool, try to find an open area where the pots can be placed in the sun, and then move them to the pool area when friends or relatives are expected to visit.

Whatever type of climate in which you live, consider also adding some shrubs with fragrant flowers to the planting mix. There’s nothing nicer than sitting around a pool and sensing whiffs of perfume drifting by in the breeze.