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The Best Plants For Around The Swimming Pool

Whether you just got a swimming pool installed in your yard or you’re just hoping to change things up, landscaping around the pool can be a challenge. Not only do you need to consider the aesthetic the plants will bring, but you also need to consider hardiness. Putting plants around your swimming pool can be a great way to add color, life, and design to the space. However, not every plant will thrive on your pool deck.

In order to take some of the guesswork out of your landscaping renovation this summer, we compiled a list of the 10 best plants for around the pool. Beautiful, hardy, and container planting friendly, these plants are sure to take your swimming pool from concrete jungle to lush oasis.

Planting around a swimming pool–What to consider.

There are a few things you need to consider before you jump into choosing plants for around your swimming pool. We’ve gone into detail with tips and tricks, but there are a handful of key elements to keep in mind while on the hunt.

First, any plants around your pool need to be tolerant of full sun. Your pool is likely installed in the sunniest place in your yard, and it’s unlikely that you are getting a great deal of shade around the entire perimeter. For this reason, any plants need to be able to withstand these conditions.

Additionally, you should avoid plants that attract insects. Nothing ruins a fun day at the pool like a bee or wasp sting. So while we are huge advocates for native plants and pollinator gardens, it’s not a bad idea to skip it around your swimming pool.

Finally, you should not plant anything with highly delicate foliage. Not only is the pool one of the highest traffic areas of your backyard, but it also is at risk for being sprayed with chemicals. From pool cleaner to simple chlorine exposure, greenery should be able to withstand small levels of exposure.

Keeping these simple rules in mind, here are our top picks for great plants for landscaping around a swimming pool.

Geranium

When planting around the swimming pool, color is a priority for many people. If your pool deck consists of simple gray concrete, then flowering plants can make a big design difference. Many flowers may be too delicate to sit all summer long on a pool deck. Geranium is different.

Coming in a wide range of varieties, you can pick the color way that best suits your home. These sun loving flowering plants will feel right at home in containers along the perimeter of your pool. Looking to go bigger? Pick from climbing or shrub varieties for more coverage.

Geraniums do best in zones 9-12.

Banana Tree

For our friends who have the blessing of relatively mild weather year long, we have the perfect plant for you. The Banana Tree is an incredibly fast growing option for homeowners who want large foliage, but don’t want to wait a decade to get it. These plants require full sun, so they’ll love a long summer on the deck. However, they are not frost tolerant.

We recommend planting where there is some degree of coverage from high winds. Though these are hardy plants, the large foliage makes their leaves susceptible to rips and tears. This damage shouldn’t kill your plant, but it may damage the overall aesthetic.

We recommend Banana Trees for zones 9 and 10.

Echeveria

Dealing with drought? We’ve got your back. Some areas of the country with the largest amount of swimming pools also experience some of the largest risk of drought annually. If you’re looking to conserve water without sacrificing on green space, look no further than Echeveria.

This succulent style plant is a sun loving, drought resistant, hardy pool-side stunner. Not only is it a trooper, but its wide range of colors and appearances make it a beautiful visual addition to any backyard space. Plant together in containers and watch it flourish.

Echeveria is best in planting zones 9-12.

Evergreen Viburnum 

We hear you, cold weather folks have swimming pools too. If you live in an area that experiences frost, then tropical plants like the Banana Tree are bad candidates for your outdoor living space. The solution? Evergreens.

Evergreen Viburnum is a hardy, year round option for homeowners looking to bring more greenery to their swimming pool. As an evergreen, the viburnum does not drop leaves in winter. This means you won’t spend hours fishing debris out of your pool as soon as the first frost hits.

Plant in a perimeter around your swimming pool, or use as embellishment wherever you need a touch of green. An extra benefit? These guys are helpful in preventing erosion that can be caused by splashing water.

We recommend Evergreen Viburnum for planting zones 2 through 9.

Ornamental Grass

Some of the best choices for landscaping around your swimming pool are to choose plants that tackle two problems at once–aesthetics, and practicality. Some of the best backyard plants are the varieties that look beautiful, and create additional privacy in your outdoor living space. Ornamental grasses are perfect for the job.

Tall and full of movement, you can find ornamental grasses that are hardy in almost every region of the country. As useful as they are beautiful, grasses at full height can create a living fence or screen around your pool. Plant in beds or group in a series of containers for maximum effect. We love Feather Reed Grass or Zebra Grass.

Different ornamental grasses will flourish in different climates. Check the recommended zoning on your choice of grass before bringing it home. 

Bunny Ears Cactus

When we say sun loving and weather resistant, we’re sure our Southwestern readers automatically think of cacti. However, many cactus varieties pose a safety issue around pools. Many cactuses have sharp spines that can cause injury if disturbed. Because of this, it’s important to choose cactus varieties around the pool carefully, especially when children are present.

The Bunny Ears Cactus is a great choice for those who love the idea of incorporating cacti, but want to keep their pool deck as safe as possible. The Bunny Ears Cactus is not only cute, (and a popular houseplant!), but is far less prickly than other options. For those in native regions, this plant can become invasive, so exercise caution or use a container planting strategy.

Bunny Ears Cactus’s thrive outdoors in zones 9-12.

Bougainvillea

Who says flowers can't be tough? The Bougainvillea is a hardy, sun loving, flowering plant native to the southern United States, the Caribbean, and areas of Mexico and Central America. A climbing plant, the Bougainvillea can grow to cover large expanses of area, and is perfect for anyone wanting a pop of color and privacy at the same time. 

While these plants are native to tropical regions, colder weather readers should not despair. Bougainvillea can endure colder temperatures than one might think. For those who experience hard freezes, opt for container plantings and move inside ahead of winter. It may be a bit of extra work, but we think those bright pink blossoms are well worth the effort.

Bougainvillea can reliably be planted in-ground in zones 9-11.

Stonecrop

Have a lot of ground to cover? Stonecrop is a succulent lover's dream poolside plant. Small yet mighty, Stonecrop is a sun loving, fast spreading option that offers both reliability and color. Offering over 300 varieties, there’s something for everyone. Use by themselves or layer with taller plants or other succulent varieties Stonecrop is a real team player.

Stonecrop can do well in any soil, and can grow in zones 3 through 9.

Rosemary

Talk about doing double duty. Rosemary is a low maintenance herb that looks as good as it smells and tastes. Grow in large planter boxes around your pool for an injection of color and to boost the scent-appeal of your backyard living space. Rosemary loves sun, and is easy to care for, especially in comparison to some other herbs such as basil.

This plant is surprisingly hardy, and can tolerate some degree of frost. It grows well in zones 7-11. However, if you experience reliably colder temperatures and freezes, we recommend opting for a cold-weather variety.

Roses

Roses are classic parts of many American backyards, and for a good reason. Beautiful with a huge variety of sizes, styles, and colors, a well cared for rose bush is a jaw dropper. While most of the plants on our list have been picked for their hardiness and ability to withstand foot traffic and chlorine, we couldn’t leave roses off of our list.

These plants will do better in homes where splashing water is less of a concern. If you have young children who will be holding cannon-ball competitions all summer long, this may be one to skip. However, if you’re simply floating your days away, roses can provide color and beauty unparalleled by a lot of other flowers.

Roses vary widely in variety, and different options will favor different conditions. Most roses can grow in zones 5-9, however you should check with your local garden center before committing.

Grapevine

If you’re looking to add privacy to your swimming pool without planting a series of hedges, then vining plants are the answer to your dilemma. Grapevine is a perfect option for homeowners looking to add a green fence to their backyard living space.

The large foliage of the grapevine offers plenty of coverage, and the plant itself is extremely malleable. This means it can grow as well on a terrace as it can do on an arbor. Use it as a green ceiling on a pergola. However you use it, you’ll love the look–and the grapes are just another perk.

Grapevine can be grown in zones 6-10.

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