Back to Nature: Inspired Garden Ideas for a Breathtaking Pool Experience


When we picture a day in our swimming pool, we think of something relaxing and idyllic.  Add a natural feel to that image by adding a garden around your pool.

Plantlife and other natural elements in a garden add a nice texture to your backyard oasis. Depending on your plant choices, they also give a nice splash of color.

There are many ways to add a garden around your pool, which we will discuss in this article.  Additionally, we will give some tips on what you want to consider before you get started.

Finally, for those that have not added their pool yet, we will talk about natural pools and how they are perfect for any nature lover. (It is possible to convert an existing pool into a natural pool, but it is prohibitively expensive for most people.)

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Adding a Garden: Things to Consider

Choose the Right Plants

It is not a matter of planting anything in your pool garden.  You want to think of where your pool is located and how those plants will affect your pool.

Are there leaves that will fall into your pool and create extra cleaning? Is this plant going to draw unwanted critters?

Remember to talk to your local nursery or read plant tags to choose plants that are appropriate for your hardiness zones.

Opt for full sun plants that don’t shed a lot of leaves and are low maintenance. Some of the best plants to include in your pool landscaping project are:

  • Agave
  • Aloe vera
  • Angelina stonecrop
  • Autumn Joy Sedum
  • Blue fescue grass
  • Elephant ears (Colocasia)
  • Geum
  • Hardy hibiscus shrub
  • Inkberry shrub
  • Lantana
  • Live oaks
  • Mexican bird of paradise shrub
  • Mountain laurel shrub
  • Octopus agave
  • Palm trees
  • Papyrus
  • Purple ice plant
  • Red justicia
  • Sky Pencil Holly
  • Weeping dalea
  • Yucca filamentosa
  • Zebra grass

Plants You Do Not Want Near Your Swimming Pool

Cleaning your pool is already a chore – you do not want to add more work because of the garden you choose!

Anything with small flowers or thorns is not a great idea – they will bypass a skimmer basket and damage your equipment.

You also want to think about how your plants will grow underground.  How extensive is the root system and how will that affect your swimming pool?

Trees that have extensive roots include (but are not limited to) oaks, ficus and elms.

Flowering trees, like cherry or plum, are also a bad idea.  The debris will just be too much of a hassle and will create so much more cleaning work for you.

Below are some plants that may pose a problem. That is not to say that you should absolutely not plant them in your garden; however, you will want to consider your pool design and their location in relation to your pool.

  • Acacia: It will release its flower clusters all over your yard and pool.
  • Azalea: These have annual leaf and flower drops
  • Bamboo: Bamboo can grow quickly and bring leaf litter into your pool.
  • Bottlebrush: Great for a privacy hedge; however, its flowers do shed.
  • Crape Myrtle: It’s flowers are so small, a skimmer will not catch them.  If it sinks to the bottom, its flowers are so small a pressure-side cleaner will not pick it up.
  • Tulip Trees: These are especially troublesome because they shed some sort of debris during each and every season.

Thorns / Plant Spines

When choosing your plants, you also want to think about how it would feel to run into it.  Especially with children present, a rowdy game of tag around the pool can become especially painful if they were to run into a thorny plant (like a rosebush) or something with a strong spine (like a cactus).

Plants that Attract Bees

Bees are an important part of the ecosystem, but we do want bees confusing your pool guests’ bright bathing suit with a flower.  This especially rings true if anyone in your family has allergies.

Common plants that attract bees are:

  • Bottlebrush
  • Columbine
  • Cosmos
  • Delphinium
  • Honeysuckle
  • Larkspur
  • Oregano
  • Queen Anne’s lace
  • Salvia
  • Sweet clovers
  • Wisteria

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Ideas to Add a Natural Element to your Pool Garden

River Rocks

What if you are not a green thumb?  No problem!

Adding river rock around your pool is a great way to give it a natural aesthetic, without having to actually garden.

Potted Plants

Adding potted plants is a great idea.  You can move them around if you want to change the layout of your garden.

You also do not have to commit to them by your pool.  If you find that a plant is causing debris to fall into your pool, for example, just move the pot elsewhere!

Ornamental Grass

Ornamental grass is a great addition to your pool garden.  It is durable, resilient, can be planted basically anywhere, and can grow to give you some privacy around your pool area.

Even better, ornamental grass is low-maintenance, meaning that you can more or less just plant it and let nature do the work


Hedges are another great way to create a privacy border around your pool.  Some common plants to use to build a hedge are:

  • Norway Spruce
  • Colorado Blue Spruce
  • Green Giant Arborvitae
  • Emerald Green Arborvitae
  • Bamboo


As mentioned before, with trees you want to think about debris.  Are there any fruit or leaves that are going to make its way into my pool?

You will also want to think about how high, and how wide that tree will eventually grow.  You may end up with a large amount of shade over your pool.

Fragrant Plants

While we often think about a garden appeal to the eyes, it can also appeal to our noses!  Some sweet-smelling plants or shrubs smell even better in the evening time.

A Tropical Oasis

Because of all of the travel restrictions imposed during 2020, you might want to think about creating your own island oasis.  Tropical plants can give you that resort feel, without actually having to leave home.

Some tropical plants that would suit your pool garden include:

  • Bird of paradise
  • Hibiscus
  • Canna
  • Palms
  • Papyrus


Most areas require that a fence is installed around your pool to protect your family and your neighbors.  However, if a fence does not match your natural oasis aesthetic, train vines to go up your fence to create a living wall.

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Natural Swimming Pools

What is a natural swimming pool?

A natural swimming pool combines the natural beauty of a pond with the functionality of a traditional swimming pool.  It is perfect for those that would like to use fewer chemicals and would love an environmentally friendly option instead of a traditional swimming pool.

A natural swimming pool uses plants and a biological filter to keep the water clean – so clean that you could in fact drink it!

How does water stay clean?

Basically, a natural swimming pool uses a biological filter of plants, rocks, and microbes to clean your water.  It is found in a separate area of the pool called a regeneration zone.

Water is pushed into the regeneration zone by a pump, filtered, and returned to the main swimming area. Like a traditional pool, you also want to regularly skim a natural pool to account for debris that is on the water’s surface.

Benefits to a Natural Swimming Pool

There are many benefits to building a natural swimming pool.  Of course, they use fewer chemicals.

They can also be in any shape that you want, which gives you some creative license. They can be designed like a traditional swimming pool, to an integrated rock-rimmed pool.

The maintenance costs are lower than those of a traditional pool.

Things to Consider with a Natural Swimming Pool

However, there are some other things to consider before installing a natural swimming pool.

These are filtered using aquatic plans and have to be sloped, more like a soup bowl than a bathtub, so that the walls do not cave in. An underwater aeration system is necessary here and will set you back between $1,000 and $2,000.

One thing to consider – you need quite a bit of space to install a natural swimming pool to account for the regeneration zone.  The regeneration zone can be sized up to the same size as the swimming space.

One thing that is jarring for most people when they install a natural swimming pool is the color.  It is naturally green, so although it is perfectly safe to swim in, it can be jarring for some folks.


Installing a natural pool can be a big investment, up to $50,000. Depending on its size and the type of aquatic plants that you use, the price will vary.

Since natural pools, while becoming more popular, are relatively new, not a lot of pool builders are familiar with them. This means that you may have to find a contractor that is further away, resulting in a premium being charged.

Additionally, if there are any issues with your natural pool, it may be harder to find someone to repair it.

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Do not forget about maintenance!

Adding some natural elements around your pool is just one way to up the relaxation factor. Of course, a pool is best enjoyed when it is clean and well-maintained.

Relax by your pool knowing the work is being taken care of by hiring a pool cleaning service.  Reach out today so we can explain how we can help you better enjoy your pool.


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