Ah yes, the sight of a nice cool pool on a hot summer's day. Almost a necessity and not luxury when you live in the south. I first met one of my very best friends (Geri) when she asked me at a garden function, "How do you landscape a pool?" Hmmm. Good question I suppose. She worried about chlorine more than anything, as well as leaves falling into the pool. All concerns you must consider when landscaping a pool. Not to mention accessibility to the pool must be maintained. Geri was very concerned she could not plant plants around her newly installed pool. Not plant plants around a pool to beautify it? Who are you kidding?? We are gardeners so anything is fair game, as my husband soon found out. He is not happy about it either since he is the 'pool man' around here, in addition to being 'Mr. Fix-it'.
You first must consider accessibility. How will you get to the pool and its operating parts? Here you can see our little swimming pool. The all important pump and skimmer areas are located on the uphill of the pool and are easily accessible. It helps me (a short lady) to have a somewhat elevated path to the side of the pool. I used old 4x4s I had on hand. There are no plants in this area and no obstructions to block maintenance of the pool. The drain hose to backwash the pump and filter is located on the downhill side of this pool. It drains onto the lawn. Pool water can be either alkaline or acidic (hence the need to add soda ash to increase acidity and baking soda to decrease acidity) so this is a factor for the drainage area. You must be aware how the pH of this water runoff may affect the surrounding plantings. In the seven years we've had this pool, I've never lost a plant or blade of grass to pool runoff water. A good thing. In fact, I think the lawn likes the drink of water in the summer.
Now that we know to leave an accessible area, especially in the area of the pump and filter and where the ladder attaches to the pool, how about the rest of the pool surround? Shall we just leave it bare? No, no, never in a gardener's yard.
What I did was try to consider what would be in bloom in the summer when we utilized the swimming pool most. I did not want plants that would block the view. Since the Jimster is the one mostly swimming (picture me working in the garden while he swims then falling into the pool when I can no longer tolerate the heat) I like to have a good view of the pool from all areas. When I'm not in the garden, I'm on my deck. The first view of the pool is from the deck. Here I wanted to be sure to not block this view yet I wanted to make it attractive. All things in my garden are "in the garden". There are only two things in my yard not located "in a garden". They are my driveway and two lone trees. That will probably change one day, but for now all other things-hardscaping and living are "in the garden". That is, they are surrounded on all sides by a garden. The pool is no exception. This is one reason this blog is called "In the Garden".
I initially had about a 2 foot garden around here filled with annuals. That was not a good solution. We gardeners know a measly two foot wide garden won't cut it. I widened the garden to about 4 feet and began planting perennials in addition to self seeding annuals. I wanted structure and a bit of formality. I chose to alternate orange daylilies with 'May Night' salvia all the way around this pool. There are a few irises mixed in too, and just last fall I added some 'Adagio' ornamental grass for structure in the winter and fall.
The daylilies are tall enough that when we are swimming in the pool they are above the pool edge so I can enjoy them from inside and outside the pool yet still see through them. The salvia blooms off and on all summer so its blue contrasts nicely with the orange of the daylilies. I love it. The landscaping also works well for maintenance. These daylilies, grasses and salvia can take some stepping on. The plants will bounce back no problem.
To try to shorten these posts I will do another pool post at a later time. It will involve fragrant plants as so many folks like fragrance near their pools.
One note: Our lot is full of mature oak trees as you can see from the picture. These trees are NOT good for pools. It is by choice we keep them all, but do know we deal with the leaves year round and it is NOT a fun thing. If you can site your pool away from trees, it makes maintenance easier. You can always add a sitting area in nearby shade if your pool is in full sun.
Another important note: Here in Tennessee we had to get a permit to install our swimming pool. I am pretty sure a permit is required for ALL permantly installed swimming pools based on your county laws and codes. For us it required a small fee, and the environmental person came out and checked for our septic lines and told US where we could put the pool. We felt much better having this service prior to installing our pool. Be sure to check with local zoning offices prior to installing any large permanent pool. In addition, it is a really good idea to let your homeowner's insurance carrier know about all permanently installed pools right away. Again, check with local codes offices in your county/city.
Any pool landscaping ideas you all have you'd like to share?
in the garden....