The Homeowner’s Essential Guide to Pool Landscape Design

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The Homeowner’s Essential Guide to Pool Landscape Design

If you are considering installing a pool in your backyard, then there’s a good chance you have flipped through photos of award-winning pools and wondered how you could also have something similar.

As with every aspect of home design, the perfect pool area is the one that works for you and your family’s needs. For that reason, there are a variety of options for how you can choose to design it.

To get you started, read on for the homeowner’s essential guide to pool landscape design.

Swimming Pool Designs

There is a wide range of swimming pool designs and shapes available, ensuring that you can find one that suits your home aesthetics and lot space, as well as your budget and local codes.

In some instances, a lap pool may fit perfectly in your area, while for other people, a large landscaped in-ground pool is preferred.

Here are some of the most popular swimming pool design options:

Lap Pool

This rectangular pool type is long (more than 50 feet) and narrow so that it can be utilized for fitness and health purposes. This type of pool is ideal for long and narrow lots, as well as for homeowners who primarily want to use their pool for exercise.

Recreational Swimming Pool

A full-size recreational swimming pool offers features that are sure to entertain the whole family. Whether you include slides, water features, jet-streams, or other elements, these recreational pools are all about having lots of fun no matter your age.

For this reason, these pools require a significant amount of space and are fitting for families that want to use their pool as a common area.

Infinity Pool

There is a good chance that you have seen pictures of infinity pools on the websites of some of the world’s most beautiful resorts. There is a reason for that; these pools are some of the most luxurious options available as they have to be custom-built and always highlight a stunning view. Depending on the design of your home, an infinity pool may be exactly what your space needs.

Natural Pool

A combination of swimming pool and water garden, natural pools feature a “regeneration” zone with aquatic landscaping so that the pool is self-cleaning.

Generally, these pools are designed with natural elements such as boulders and waterfalls; however, they can also be more modern or elegant.

These pools are ideal for gardeners and other homeowners who love the natural world, as there is a wide variety of plant life that can be grown around them. Additionally, if you don’t want to swim in chlorinated water, this is the ideal option for you.


A combination of a spa and pool, spools are the smallest option of pool design – about the size of a large Jacuzzi. This pool style is ideal for those with small lots, a tight budget, or who don’t want to be responsible for maintaining a large pool. That being said, spools can still provide lots of entertainment and are lovely to experience on hot days or for relaxation.

Indoor Pool

Last but not least, you can opt to have an indoor pool built.

Unlike the other pool designs, this type of pool is covered by a roof and surrounded by walls. Usually, indoor pools are done in a simple shape, but the surrounding area can still be beautifully designed.

Indoor pools are a good option for homeowners who want to use their pool even during cold weather as heating an indoor pool is a lot cheaper than doing the same outside.

Plants Are Essential

No matter what type of pool design you choose, you want to make sure you are including beautiful plants in the landscaping.

The plants you choose need to be able to endure your pool’s microclimate, be maintainable, and suit the surrounding area.

Keep in mind that a heated pool will raise humidity levels, and the plants will probably be splashed with chlorine sometimes. Therefore, you want to take your time researching what plants are suitable for your particular climate and soil conditions.

When selecting plants for your pool landscaping, make sure you consider maintenance requirements, your privacy needs, and the climate in your area. Additionally, the most beautiful pool landscaping has proper balance, proportion, and variety in the colour, texture, and scent of plants.

Here are five plants that are suitable for swimming pool landscaping:

  • Banana Tree (Musa): Ideal for a tropical aesthetic, they need rich, well-drained soil, full-sun exposure, and a spot that’s safe from strong winds.
  • Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae): Another plant that is guaranteed to transport you to the tropics, these need a rich, well-drained potting mix and partial sun. Ideal for pool landscaping because they can tolerate splashing, these plants can also be grown indoors.
  • Egyptian Papyrus (Cyperus papyrus): These lush plants look gorgeous around a pool, as long as they are planted in fertile, wet soil and have full sun exposure.
  • Echeveria (Crassulaceae): Originally from Mexico, these succulent perennials are perfect for rock gardens and natural pools, plus they are drought tolerant. Plant them in a well-drained succulent mix and ensure they have full to partial sun exposure.

Martha Washington Geranium (Regal pelargonium): If you are looking for a colourful addition to your pool landscaping, then you can’t go wrong with these geraniums that come in a variety of shades of pink, red, purple, and white. Plant yours in well-drained soil with indirect sun. However, these are not suitable for colder climates.


Another popular option for pool landscaping is to integrate succulents with other plants in the garden. These plants are ideal for having beside the pool because they are evergreen, exciting in form, and sturdy. Five potential options for pool landscaping succulents are:

  • Aeonium
  • Cotyledon
  • Dudleya
  • Kalanchoe
  • Sedum

Ornamental Grasses

If you are looking for low maintenance options that still make a visual statement, consider including ornamental grasses (such as sedges, rushes, and bamboo) in your pool landscaping design. Five potential options for ornamental grasses are:

  • Yellow foxtail grass (Alopecurus pratensis ‘Aureus’)
  • Lemongrass (Cymbopogon ercitratus)
  • Fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’)
  • Feather grass (Stipa)
  • Korean grass (Zoysia)


Depending on the layout of your back garden, there is a good chance that you are looking for ways to keep your pool area more private.

One of your options is to plant vines around the pool area, as these plants can climb over walls and quickly grow to create a natural privacy screen. Five potential options for vines are:

    • Passionflower
    • Jasmine
    • Honeysuckle
    • Trumpet vine
    • Lady Banks rose

Other Essential Components of Pool Landscape Design

In addition to plants, bushes, and flowers, there are some other essential components of pool landscape design to consider.

Fence and Lighting

For starters, if you have young children or want to keep the pool area secure, then you may want to consider installing fencing. If (for aesthetic reasons) you don’t want to see the fence, you can train vines to grow over it.

Pool lighting is also necessary around your pool both for safety and aesthetic reasons as it will transform your outdoor environment and enhance every pool experience.

The right pool lighting will improve night-time visibility and safety and enable you to use the pool even when it is dark outside. Additionally, you can opt for lighting solutions that create sparkling effects on the water surface and highlight architectural or design elements.

Pool Deck and Outdoor Furniture

Another crucial element is a pool deck or some other slip-resistant surface to ensure that anyone who climbs out of the water is safe and will not slip.

Don’t overlook the importance of a pool deck, as this is what will dictate the size of the area immediately surrounding the pool. Therefore, when selecting your pool deck, you want to consider what will work best for amplifying the use of the space.

Depending on your pool deck size, you may opt to have outdoor furniture on it or a spacious grilling and dining area. Alternatively, these may be removed slightly from the pool and situated in a separate area.

Regardless, outdoor furniture ensures that you and your guests have all the conveniences they would ever want when spending time around the swimming pool. Depending on the size of your space and your budget, you may also want to have barbecue equipment and an outdoor furnace.

Selecting a Pool Landscape Designer

There is no denying that a swimming pool in the backyard has the potential to be your own private oasis. However, to ensure that you are making the best use of your space and that your vision becomes a reality, it is vital that you choose a highly regarded pool landscape designer.

When considering who to work with, look for a team that can help you with landscaping ideas, provide swimming pool design and installation, and high-quality maintenance services.

Besides, team members should be knowledgeable, reliable, and friendly. They should also pride themselves on working hard to ensure that you have the best customer service experience possible.

Have you considered building a pool in your home? Or, are you looking to upgrade the pool landscape design? What would your dream pool landscaping look like?

Let us know your thoughts and any relevant experiences in the comments below!

Featured photo by Briana Tozour on Unsplash

Rachel Hennessey

Rachel Hennessey manages the Pools and Landscaping Division of Hennessey LLC. She also works on Tender and Pre-Qualification and brings in new business to the company’s Construction, Interiors and Civils Division.

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