When it comes to the best pool landscaping ideas, there are a few things to consider. As well as wanting your splash zone to look good, you need to give some serious consideration to the plants you choose to add to your space, the materials you use to landscape the surrounding area and any patio furniture you invest in.
After all, in-ground and above-ground pools are wet places. And therefore only the toughest of materials, plants and furnishings will survive. But here’s the good news: landscaping your poolside can be as bright and bold or as calm and composed as you want it to be.
As interior designers, Hillary Kaplan and Miriam Silver Verga of Mimi & Hill (opens in new tab) say, ‘Landscaping can be bright and elaborate. Or tamed to uniform shades of greens and manicured to create an architectural background for your pool.’ And when it comes to creativity, ‘Plantings and material selections are crucial to how creative you wish to be,’ the duo say.
To help give you some inspiration when it comes to pool landscaping and seamlessly incorporating this into your backyard landscape design, we put the all-important questions to the experts to find out what’s best for your space. Keep scrolling to discover key furniture looks plus, what hardware to use around your dip zone and what plants to include if you’re considering adding a swimming pool to your yard.
1. Invest in splash-proof furniture
It’s easy to transform your surrounding pool area into a comfortable and attractive entertainment space with the right lounging and poolside patio furniture.
But before you add any pool furniture to your basket, do your research on whether or not it’s splash-proof.
Kelly Bradley, Merchant of Patio & Pool at The Home Depot (opens in new tab)says, ‘Elevate your standard poolside furniture with chaise lounges or outdoor couches made of wicker, teak, wood or plastic with added cushions for comfort. Wicker and metal materials are designed to be water-resistant and quick to dry after catching water from pool splashing or rain.’
The Hampton Bay Laurel Oaks Black Steel Outdoor Patio Chaise (opens in new tab) will give you all-day comfort and stylish seating for you and pool goers. While the Hampton Bay 2-Person Gray Wicker Outdoor Patio Daybed (opens in new tab) is another great option.
2. Add some shade with sunbrellas, pergolas or a gazebo
Poolsides can be pretty sunny places. Especially when there’s the reflection of the sun on the water to consider. But that’s where a pool-friendly gazebo, sunbrella or the best shade plants can come into play.
Jessica Foster, Merchant of Direct Fulfillment at The Home Depot (opens in new tab)says, ‘An outdoor structure like a gazebo can give you shelter from harsh sun rays and provide the ultimate relaxation near your pool. Put a chaise lounge or poolside daybed underneath to help improve the pool area.’
The Hampton Bay 10 ft. x 10 ft. Holden Outdoor Patio Black Hard Top Galvanized Steel Gazebo (opens in new tab) is a great shady solution to elevate your poolside setup. Or lounge comfortably next to the pool and out of the sun in the Home Decorators Collection Arbor Point Commercial Aluminum Outdoor Day Bed with Sunbrella Antique Beige Cushions (opens in new tab).
While pergolas are another type of poolside shading for hosting any celebration. ‘The Hampton Bay Orchard Park 10.6 ft. x 13.3 ft. Brown Steel Arched Beam Pergola with Sling Canopy (opens in new tab) offers ample space for a dining or conversation set,’ Foster adds.
3. Don’t forget the finishing touches
No poolside would be complete without some solar lights, cushions and a place to rest your ice cool drink. Choose style and comfort by dressing your daybed (opens in new tab) with water-resistant furnishings that help to put the fun into function.
Add a rug to your splash zone, pop up a cute patio umbrella and don’t stop at just the one plant.
4. Consider your privacy around the pool
Want to add some privacy to your pool area? Landscaping with trees is a wonderful way to inject privacy and even more greenery to your poolside.
Interior designers, Hillary Kaplan and Miriam Silver Verga of Mimi & Hill (opens in new tab)say, ‘We love to use trees as a fast and easy way to create privacy when neighbors have a view into your yard.
‘Fast-growing trees like Arborvitaes are well priced, take to new soil easily, and can grow into one cohesive green wall, almost like a hedge if you plant them close together.
‘Just make sure when you plant them that they don’t obstruct the natural line of the sunlight as it passes overhead. If you are craving and unique look for a premium, you can get European Cypress. It’s also worth the time and money to engage with a landscape designer to advise on the best species for your particular geography. This way, you can make educated decisions about species of plants and choose plants that can ward away certain pests like insects and deer.’
5. Choose non-slip stones for poolside spots
As seen with the best pool deck ideas, surface water on stone can make for a slippery concoction. Which is why, poolside areas should be flanked with non-slip stone. Granite and limestone will work wonders around your pool.
6. Incorporate water-loving plants
Like any other part of the garden, it’s important to consider environmental conditions such as sunlight and water when choosing plantings around your pool. Wondering where to start?
Kat Aul Cervoni, landscape designer and founder of Staghorn NYC (opens in new tab) and The Cultivation by Kat (opens in new tab) says, ‘ Oftentimes, pools are situated in sunny, open areas of a property so I love using ornamental grasses nearby as they offer wonderful texture and movement, blend well with other plantings and generally aren’t very messy.’
Cervoni also recommends being mindful of your pool and the surrounding area creating a microclimate and how this might affect the plantings close by.
She says, ‘For example, pools situated in sunny, open areas will reflect lots of sunlight meaning plants that can tolerate high sun and heat will be necessary. Lavender (opens in new tab)is great in these areas.’
7. Be cautious of planting messy plants
After you’ve gone to the effort of creating an amazing pool setup, you’ll want to keep it fresh and clean to use all year round. This is why, as Cervoni recommends when it comes to plants, only plant foliage that doesn’t drop.
She says, ‘One of the most important things I consider when selecting plants for a pool area is their level of messiness, particularly during the summer months when the pool isn’t covered. Plantings that don’t drop their leaves, flower petals, or other detritus during the summer months are best to help keep the patio area and pool cleaner.
‘Small-leaf evergreens such as boxwood (opens in new tab), yew and holly are safe bets, hydrangea (opens in new tab) and clethra are wonderful for summer color. Perennials such as lavender (opens in new tab), agastache, and gaura are perfect for their long bloom times, attracting butterflies and fragrance and they mix well with many grasses and shrubs.’
8. Use natural stones to blend into the background
It’s not just around the adjacent poolside where you can add stones into your landscape. You can use it around flower borders to keep plants at bay, and provide a little shady spot for extra seating.
Cervoni says, ‘I love the texture and colors that natural stone provides in a landscaped space and they are a wonderful option around pools as well. My go-to’s are bluestone and travertine, but limestone, marble and granite are also good options. While these options definitely come at a premium, they are second to none when it comes to longevity and durability so are a worthy investment if your budget allows. It’s important that whatever stone you choose has a textured finish added prior to installation to keep them from getting too slippery when wet.’
9. Soften harsh edges with plants
Urban zen designs and tropical garden planting are two gorgeous looks for every type of backyard space. And we’re not surprised. Along with helping to create a modern or jungle-inspired feel, these styles can transform the whole look and feel of a space and help to soften man-made areas of landscaping. But don’t just take our word for it.
Frederico Azevedo, of Unlimited Earth Care (opens in new tab) says, ‘The pool is one of the most important areas of the home, and as a landscape designer I put a lot of energy into planning the transition into the pool area and enhancing its experience and sense of place. The pool is an area of high activity, and even when it’s not, it’s often a focal point, so making sure that the contrast with the garden is not too jarring is important.
‘I’d say the best ideas are the best ideas for your landscape. But I can say that many pools are rectangular, and so I’d suggest trying to soften those hard edges and corners with soft blooms that reflect a little color into the water.’
10. Consider the wildlife
One last pool landscaping tip to keep in mind?
‘Consider how much of the pool you can see from the house, and what kind of mood you’re going for,’ Azevedo tells us. ‘Is it a pool for exercising? Maybe simple grasses and Calamintha (opens in new tab) to dissuade mosquitoes at the border. Is it a pool you often entertain alongside? I’d suggest creating an inviting palette and incorporating cheery flowers with welcoming aromas.
‘But if you have deer, for example, I’d suggest not planting tasty flowers and instead, choose something naturally resistant, like alliums (opens in new tab), which also have quite lovely purple cluster flowers.’
What is best to put around a pool?
Paving slabs are one of the most popular choices of material to place around pools. Why? They are easily laid, there is a range of options to choose from and the slabs can be laid in all manner of configurations.
But, as interior designers, Hillary Kaplan and Miriam Silver Verga of Mimi & (opens in new tab)Hill add, ‘Make sure there is a slight texture to the stone that abuts the pool and walking paths, so there is no slipping.
‘Some manufactured materials are also engineered to remain cool to your feet. As a lot of natural stone can literally fry the bottoms of your feet on a sunny summer day.’
What landscaping do you put around a pool?
Kat Aul Cervoni, landscape designer and founder of Staghorn NYC (opens in new tab) and The Cultivation by Kat (opens in new tab) says, ‘A pool is a special destination within your outdoor space, so it should feel inviting and draw you in. Like any other piece of your outdoor space, I think it’s important to establish a style and vernacular that will knit together the various elements such as plants, patio, furnishings and shapes, so that there is an overall sense of visual harmony.
For a tropical vibe, add cannas, elephant ears, or potted palms to give the feeling of an island oasis (note that many of these plants may not be winter-hardy, so will need to be brought indoors once the temps drop in fall, or will need to be replanted again next year). Hydrangeas and neatly clipped boxwood lend a classic East Coast style to a pool surround. Or go modern and minimalist with ornamental grasses, yucca and sedums.’
How do I make my pool area nice?
There’s a range of ways to make your pool area look nice without adding more to the initial costs of an in-ground pool. For one, decking can really change up the look and feel of your poolside. As can any paving stones you choose to put around it. You could also invest in some outdoor lighting to really set the mood and make your poolside a space you want to be, even after dark.
‘If space allows, I also like incorporating planters around a swimming pool to add fun pops of seasonal color that can be switched out year over year,’ Cervoni tells us. ‘And don’t forget some comfortable lounge chairs and an umbrella.’