Landscaping Ideas: What to Plant by the Pool?

What the heck do you plant by the swimming pool? We put in our little shallow pool (about 30 by 10) nearly five years ago now, and re-did the landscaping in our backyard at the same time, adding a spa, gas fire pit, some garden plants and lots of concrete.

It’s common sense what not to plant next to a pool: trees that drop leaves, invasive roots that might harm the pool itself and plants that can handle someone throwing a beach ball at them or won’t stick someone if they run into them. And of course, you want them to look good, and provide some privacy.

Sounds simple, right?

We have these small garden beds along the long, plain block wall in the back of our yard.  The challenge–besides the long list of unfriendly pool plants–is our dirt: It’s either dense clay or even sandstone (you need to chisel the holes in some places.) The drainage stinks. I didn’t do a lot of research, but always liked the looks of Papyrus. It’s just common sense, right? The plants (a dwarf variety) did okay in the terrible soil because they love water. However, the top-heavy plants kept falling over and always looked shabby.

So late last summer, I got in a mood and yanked them all out. I decided to plant these Kangaroo paws, mainly because I love their bold shapes and color. A lot of people have them in their yards in my neighborhood, so I assumed they had a good shot at survival. (See how precise my gardening decisions are?) I also decided to plant creeping fig. Now that’s a more risky decision. Creeping fig crawled over one of our neighbor’s walls and into ours, and I liked the way it looked. (Do other gardeners think like this? And admit it?)

I’m happy to say the Kangaroo paw plants are very happy and hardy. I also stuck in some succulents along the base to fill in the color. However, I’m getting a little nervous about that creeping fig. It can really creep. At the moment, the vines look really good, starting to climb up the wall and fan out a bit.

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The vines start out all delicate and lacy.

But THIS is what worries me. Here is the side yard where it has crept over from the neighbor’s yard. Over time, the vines fill in, and the leaves get larger and larger, and the vines actually start to dangle down in great mass.

Before you know it you are having creeping fig nightmares. But, hey, I’m the type of gardener that planted Morning Glories all over my yard. And I have bamboo plants (“clumping,” mind you!) all over the place. So you know what I’m talking about: I’m either the dumb gardener or the “free spirit” gardener. That’s the beauty of gardens. They are like artwork–you are the boss.  You can be creative, and loose and do whatever you want. As long as you are willing to do the clean-up.

So far, I’m still good for it.

If I had been really smart, and not so impatient and impulsive, I would have read a book like this before I tackled our landscaping overhaul  or planted anything (click the image if you want to buy it):

Pools and Spas: Everything You Need to Know to Design and Landscape a Pool

3 thoughts on “Landscaping Ideas: What to Plant by the Pool?

  1. I love the look of the juvenile leaves of creeping fig but I am not a big fan of the adult form. They also stop creeping at that point and become shrubby.

    That said even though they are not my favorite thing they would probably look really nice on that wall even with the adult leaves.

    If you want to use some other kind of climber that doesn’t cling (and thus will be less likely to damage the wall over time) it is fairly easy to drill screw eyes into the mortar and string up wire for things to climb on. I did it on the brick wall of my fathers home.

  2. The yard is looking great and you made an excellent choice planting that Kangaroo Paw in that spot.

    Your second to the last paragraph I wholeheartedly agree with, the gardener is the boss and can do whatever he wants as long as he’s responsible for its maintenance too. And that makes gardening even more fun!

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