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Having a swimming pool in the garden is a luxury that most of us would like to have. For those of us lucky enough to afford one, a swimming pool adds value to the property and enhances the beauty of the garden.

However, unless the right plants are selected for the landscaping around the pool, having a home swimming pool can become a nightmare to keep clean. Falling leaves can clog up filters and dust from the leaves mean a lot more costly chemicals have to be used to keep the water clean.

Consider grass around the pool

Whilst trees and shrubs in garden beds planted close to the pool look very attractive, and provide a nice backdrop to the pool, those that drop leaves are not practical when trying to keep the pool dean. So having a small lawn area around the pool keeps the trees and shrubs away from the pool to minimize the amount of leaf litter that ends up in the pool.

It’s a good idea to have a concrete or stone path around the pool and a small drain between the path and the lawn area so that water splashed from the pool doesn’t go directly onto the grass. Many species of lawn grass don’t like chlorinated or salt water.

If the thought of maintaining a lawn does not appeal, then consider paving stones instead, and break up the monotony of the paving by placing large pots or planters around the pool with conifers or evergreen plants that don’t drop many leaves.

Use plants to screen the pool filter

If the pool pumps and filtration equipment is exposed, then plants that don’t drop too many leaves can be used to screen the equipment. Clumping bamboo is one option. It does drop leaves, but in lesser quantities than other plants, and the leaves are easy to scoop out of the pool with a leaf net.

An alternative solution is to build a basic wire mesh fence around the pool equipment and then hang pots of evergreen plants that suit the local climate on the mesh fence. Specially made green plastic pots can be purchased for this purpose that lock together and form a ‘living wall’.

Palms are the best large specimens

Of course, most gardeners will want to have a few large specimen trees around their pool, and there is no doubt that palms are best suited for this because they only drop fronds once in a while, and they can be easily fished out of the water.

But be aware that many palms like Coconuts and Royal Palms grow into very large specimens, and when they are mature, their fronds are quite heavy. In fact the frond of a coconut palm falling from a height of 10 meters can easily knock a swimmer unconscious if the front hits the head a certain angle.

Fan palms a good option next to pool

The best type of palm for planting close to the pool is the fan palm. Consult with a local nurseryman for the species most suitable for the locality and choose one that doesn’t have a tall trunk. That way the leaves don’t have far to fall.

The Sabal Minor palm, commonly known as the dwarf palmetto, is an excellent choice because it grows in many different types of climates from warm temperate to tropical, and tolerates long dry summers well. The only disadvantage is that it is a very slow growing palm.

Philodendrons for a tropical look

Many gardeners like to create a tropical look around their swimming pools, and the humid microclimate created by the presence of the water helps to facilitate that. The Philodendron family of plants is an excellent choice for this purpose.

There are about 500 different types of philodendrons available for different climates from mild temperate to tropical, and most have large green glossy leaves in many different shapes and sizes. The leaves can last for many months. As the leaves die off, they slowly turn yellow, giving the gardener plenty of time to prune them rather than waiting for them to drop off into the pool.

Cactus species for dry climates

For desert or other arid climates, the selection of plants for around a pool is a much easier task because there are many attractive varieties of cactus species that can make a striking landscape.

However when planting cactus around a pool, consider the danger to children who may be running around the edge of the pool. Those species with large spines should be planted some distance back to avoid injury to swimmers who might slip on a wet pathway.