Swimming Pool Blog

Swimming Pool Landscaping

Swimming Pool Landscaping

by Sean Griffin, January 17, 2012

Swimming Pool Landscaping

Surrounding your swimming pool with captivating and visually pleasing greenery in the backyard requires a little research before getting started. Certain trees and shrubbery can lead to excessive pool cleaning, abundant staining, and can even affect the structural integrity of the swimming pool. Knowing the best candidates when planting any vegetations or saplings will help limit pool maintenance while still giving your backyard those much needed finishing touches. 

Blades of grass, acorns, pine needles, oak leaves and berries are some of your swimming pools worst enemies. Organic material can cause staining on both plastered and vinyl swimming pools. Furthermore they will lead to excessive maintenance and possible filtration repairs. An abundant amount of leaves or any backyard debris will clog up skimmer baskets, possibly clog the pool pump's impeller, and over work your pool filter. Even more importantly is the time involved in cleaning and maintaining the pool water. Certain trees and shrubs can produce hard to clean up acorns or pine needled that make their way through your simmer net. On top of everything organic material that deteriorates and is introduced into the pool water often will have phosphates that can lead to algae outbreaks and problematic water. For these reasons you will want to review your geographic location and make some educated decisions on what to plant and what not to plant around your swimming pool.

Problematic plant life will include those that have extensive rooting systems. Overgrown rooting tends to gravitate to a water source. I have seen a large oak tree root wrap itself around a 2” plumbing line and eventually crack the pipe. Root systems can also lead to erosion of the earth surrounding the swimming pool. This can lead to the pool deck becoming unlevel and even shifting in the pool structure in its entirety. Another seed you should avoid planting is those that will have excessive pollination. Trees that shed during multiple months of the year will increase cleaning and put a larger workload on your pool service and the pool equipment. Fruit and berry producing vegetation are more likely to leave behind messy staining and will attract unwanted insects. Pollinating plants and fruit bearing trees will almost surely invite pesky bees. An obvious plant and vine to avoid having anywhere near the swimming pool are those that have thorns or abrasive surfaces. As beautiful as a rose bed might look next the pool, it may scratch up an unsuspecting swimmer.


Mulberries, Cottonwoods, Aspens, Willows, Silver Maple, and American Elm trees. These trees have extensive and invasive root systems that will seek moisture at any cost. If close enough these trees can erode the ground around your swimming pool and seek and destroy underground plumbing.

Palm trees, Fruit trees, Grape vines, berry plants, nut trees and flowering trees. Any tree or plant that falls within this category will lead to excessive cleaning and possible staining. Insects will also be attracted to these choices.

Needle bearing Evergreen trees, large deciduous trees, and Crape Myrtles should be avoided. Larger leaves that end up in the swimming pool can complicate vacuuming and will put extra stress on the pool equipment. Finer needle that drop are known to sneak by the skimmer baskets and clog up your pool pump impellor.

Thorny flowers, Chinese holly, cacti, pyracantha, and hard yucca are some unforgiving attractions. Most pool users will want to avoid brushing up against any of those mentioned without a shirt protecting your back.


The benefits to choosing and incorporating beneficial plant life around your swimming pool are endless. From limiting cross winds that steal heat from your pool to providing shade and privacy, Mother Nature has her benefits. Personal preference along with your geographic location will dictate your numerous options to choose from when planting your seeds. With so many options available you can always learn the specific characteristics of any plant life by scrolling through Arborday.org’s American Tree Database.


Daylilies and sedums. Visually pleasing while still low maintenance.

Ornamental grasses like maiden grass, ophiopogon, and liriope can grow over half a foot. They can be used around an in ground pool and works nicely with an above ground pol. Ornamental grass commonly grows right up to an above ground structure which helps blend it into the surrounding landscape.

Calycanthus,  aka sweet shrubs, can also add some pleasing aromas.

Harbour dwarf nandina and dwarf yaupon holly are great small shrubs to line the border of a walking path or the perimeter of the pool decking. Low maintenance and very resilient.

Creating your backyard feng shui with plant life can sometimes seem like a daunting task but your main goal should be keeping it simple. Trimming, pruning, and fertilizing should be kept to a bare minimum around the swimming pool. Plant the right seeds so that you can sit back and enjoy the landscaping for years to come.