Best Plants for Pool Landscaping

The best plants for pool landscaping are crucial for enhancing the overall look and functionality of your pool space. The ideal plants won't overcrowd or overshadow the pool while still creating the mood that you want. Plants can be arranged to grow and display at varying heights, and along with vibrant colors of foliage that pop you can create focal points or more subdued tones for just the right ambiance. 

best plants for pool landscaping

In addition to size and color, you'll want to prioritize plants that are non-shedding to minimize the amount of leaves, flowers and debris that end up in the pool. There's nothing worse than spending your afternoon cleaning instead of enjoying a nice relaxing swim. Look for plants that provide shade, have a neat appearance and most importantly have non-invasive roots that can be a nuisance especially around sensitive pool structures. You may want to consider some great xeriscape ideas for the ultimate in low maintenance landscaping.

10 Best Plants for Pool Landscaping

We've put together a list of the 10 best plants for pool landscaping with special consideration to reducing maintenance and clean up required. You should be able to create the perfect atmosphere for anyone enjoying the pool with plants that both look great and add function to your pool. Whether you want to keep your backyard cool during the hottest summer months, provide shade and privacy from neighbours or add a touch of color there is a plant that can help make your backyard pool landscaping ideas a reality.

  1. Japanese Maple
  2. Honey Locust 'Sunburst'
  3. Chinese Pistache
  4. Yew
  5. Boxwood
  6. Dwarf Alberta Spruce
  7. Feather Reed Grass
  8. Japanese Forest Grass
  9. Fountain Bamboo
  10. Christmas Fern

Best Trees for Pool Landscaping

When selecting a tree for pool landscaping, several factors should be considered. Look for a tree species that has non-shedding characteristics, minimizing the amount of leaves and debris in the pool area and reducing maintenance. Choose a tree with non-invasive roots to prevent any potential damage to the pool structure or underground utilities. Additionally, opt for a tree that provides ample shade to create a comfortable and cooler environment around the pool, enhancing the overall enjoyment. 

1. Japanese Maple

The Japanese Maple acer palmatum is an elegant and visually stunning tree that's available in an array of colors, shapes and sizes making it a great option for almost any poolside landscaping. The delicate leaves create a striking visual impact and can serve as a focal point in hues of red, orange, purples and greens. 

The cascading branches structure will create elegant silhouettes that can be breath taking when used around pool as the sun shines through them during the daytime hours. Their size ranges from dwarf cultivars well suited for small spaces to larger varieties that can provide ample shade and height. 

They have a solid yet non-invasive root system so they won't damage pool foundations, disrupt underground utilities or grow uncontrolled into unwanted areas.  

japanese maplePlant Hardiness Zones 5 to 8

2. Honey Locust 'Sunburst'

Honey locust gleditsia triacanthos 'sunburst' is a unique canopied tree that will provide natural shade for any pool area. The vibrant yellow foliage will add a splash of color and create a cheerful and sunny atmosphere, especially when it catches the sunlight. The canopy will create dappled shade rather than dense shade so you can experience filtered sunlight as you enjoy your afternoon swim. 

The honey locust grows in a vase-shaped pattern while still maintaining a well-balanced and symmetrical form. The graceful branching pattern will add elegance and architectural interest to any poolside landscape. You may want to try accenting the leaves with some of the latest pool deck lighting ideas.  

honey locust sunburstPlant Hardiness Zones 4 to 9

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3. Chinese Pistache

Chinese Pistache pistacia chinensis is a versatile and visually appealing tree renowned for its stunning display of fall colors. The leaves transition from vibrant green to shades of orange, red, and even purple, that will add warmth and beauty to any pool surround. 

This large tree typically grows to a height of 30 to 60 feet with a spread of 25 to 35 feet. The spreading canopy will provide ample shade, making it ideal for creating a comfortable and shaded poolside area. It can withstand periods of dryness without excessive watering due to its excellent, yet non-invasive root system. It's also adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions, including clay and loam. 

It's hardy and able to survive in urban environments including compact soil and pollution. Consider the size and ensure there is enough space for the canopy to spread comfortably.

chinese pistachePlant Hardiness Zones 6 to 9

Best Shrubs for Pool Landscaping

When choosing the best shrubs for poolside landscaping there are a few important factors to consider. Look for a shrub with non-invasive roots and minimal shedding, to reduce the amount of leaves and debris that can end up in the pool. A shrub can both look amazing and provide shade as they mature which will help create a cool environment during the hot summer months. Consider a shrub that offers aesthetic appeal, flowers, textures and is suited to your specific plant hardiness zone

4. Yew

Yew taxus spp are one of the best shrubs for pool landscaping for a number of reasons including their dense, dark green foliage that stays vibrant and attractive throughout the year. Their height, evergreen nature and ability to create a hedge makes them a visually appealing backdrop or privacy screen for any pool landscaping design. 

Yews respond well to pruning and can be easily shaped into almost any desired forms similar to a boxwood. You can create a clean and polished look around your pool or an adjacent fence that will look good all season long. 

Once established, yews are relatively low maintenance and generally drought-tolerant in a variety of soil conditions. They are known for their deer resistant properties and general hardiness. 

yewPlant Hardiness Zones 4 to 7

5. Boxwood

Boxwood buxux spp is a popular choice for using around a pool or any modern landscaping design. It's known for its dense, glossy evergreen foliage which it retains throughout the year even during the winter months when other plants may lose their leaves. 

Boxwood plants have a naturally compact growth habit which forms into dense mound and can even be manicured into an attractive hedge. This makes them well-suited for creating borders or boundaries around a pool deck or as a backdrop to a pool deck furniture seating area. 

They can also be easily shaped and pruned into various forms including rounded, square or other creative designs and sculptures. Once established they are relatively low maintenance, require little watering and are drought tolerant. 

boxwoodPlant Hardiness Zones 5 to 9

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6. Dwarf Alberta Spruce

Dwarf Alberta Spruce picea glauca 'conica' is an excellent choice for using around a pool due to its compact size. It will typically reach a height of 6 to 8 feet with a narrow conical shape making it ideal for pool edging where space may be limited. It will retain its attractive blue-green needles year-round, providing a vibrant backdrop of lush foliage that will add texture and visual interest even during the winter months.

It grows in a natural symmetrical and conical shape, resembling a miniature Christmas tree that will add a sense of elegance and sophistication to your pool deck area. It can provide shelter for an adjacent lounge area or a backdrop to poolside garden. 

It's small size and non-invasive root habits make it suitable for containers, beds and other border planting strategies. It can also be used as a focal point, surrounded by low growing grasses or ferns. 

dwarf alberta sprucePlant Hardiness Zones 2 to 6

Best Grasses for Pool Landscaping

The best grasses for pool landscaping will create a unique with the added benefit of providing some practical advantages for your pool area. Look for a grass that has a neat appearance and doesn't spread aggressively to other parts of your growing area. Tall grasses can provide some shade in the form a privacy screen or merely help create the perfect swimming oasis. A grass that doesn't shed leaves or seeds is important to keeping the pool are clean.

7. Feather Reed Grass

Feather Reed Grass calamagrostis x acutiflora is one of the best plants for pool landscaping because of its vertical element that can work both as a privacy screen or a visually pleasing backdrop. The upright stems grow in a narrow, feather flower plume that will rise above ground vegetation to create a two layer accent. 

It forms into neat clumps and does not spread aggressively like some other grasses. It will retain its shape year after year and doesn't require extensive maintenance to keep it looking its best throughout the pool season. It has minimal shedding, which will reduce the amount of debris that will fall into the pool. 

In the summer you can expect feathery plumes that sway in the breeze, in the fall you can enjoy golden, bronze or reddish tones that will add warmth and landscape appeal. 

feather reed grassPlant Hardiness Zones 4 to 9

8. Japanese Forest Grass

Japanese Forest Grass hakonechloa macra is one of the best plants for pool landscaping if you want a vibrant, low growing and low maintenance option. It features graceful, arching foliage that creates a soft and flowing affect which is great for a serine and calm pool experience. The leaves are typically green but can also come in shades of gold or variegated patterns.

It thrives in partial to full shade conditions, making it suitable for areas with limited direct sunlight around a pool. It's a great companion to a pool shade cover such as a sun shade sail, pergola, gazebo.

It forms neat clumps that won't spread aggressively through runners. The compact growth habit ensure that it won't overpower or overcrowd the surrounding space even if it's in a poolside garden or border planting area. It'll create the perfect mix of tranquility and elegance to any landscape. 

japanese forest grassPlant Hardiness Zones 5 to 9

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9. Fountain Bamboo

Fountain Bamboo fargesia rufa is a clumping grass that's valued for its elegant appearance, compact growth habit, dense foliage, and attractive culms. It will form tight, non-invasive clumps that don't spread aggressively through runners, making it well-suited for areas around a pool where you want to maintain a neat and contained appearance. 

It will provide privacy and visual screening with a growth height ranging from 6 to 12 feet or more. The dense foliage and tall culms create a natural barrier, enhancing the sense of seclusion and will create a serene poolside environment. 

The foliage is typically green and may even appear to have a bluish hue, which will create a lush and vibrant backdrop for any poolside garden. They are hardy in cold climates so you can create a tropical ambiance with the feel of a private oasis even in northern states and colder Canadian provinces. 

fountain bambooPlant Hardiness Zones 5 to 9

Best Ferns for Pool Landscaping

When selecting the best fern for pool landscaping, it's important to choose a species with non-invasive roots, shade tolerance, minimal shedding, aesthetic appeal, and low maintenance. Look for ferns that thrive in partial to full shade, have minimal leaf litter, offer visual attractiveness, and require minimal care once established.

10. Christmas Fern

The Christmas Fern polystichum acrostichoides rounds out our list of the best plants for pool landscaping for a number of reasons including the striking and unique characteristics. It's an evergreen fern so it will retain its lush green foliage throughout the pool season. 

It's tolerant in both partial and full shade so it will flourish even though it's low lying and residing under a poolside shade tree or structure. It will hold it's color and vibrant appearance even during the winter months when many other plants are dormant or have shed their leaves. 

It features non-invasive roots which means it won't aggressively spread and cause issues with pool structures or landscaping features. It forms clumps and gradually expand over time, providing a controlled and manageable growth pattern. 

christmas fernPlant Hardiness Zones 3 to 9

Best Plants for Pool Landscaping FAQs

What does spp mean in the plant species genus name?

When you see spp it means there are multiple scientific names to indicate a group of closely related plant species. It stands for species pluralis or multiple species and is often used when there are several species within a particular genus that share similar characteristics or traits. 

What are the best plants for poolside landscaping?

Popular choices for planting near a pool are non-shedding trees, low maintenance shrubs or non-spreading grasses. 

Which plants have non-invasive roots for planting near pools?

Options for poolside plants include Japanese maples, hollies and arborvitaes.

What plants require minimal maintenance for poolside landscaping?

Low maintenance options include succulents like agave or yucca, evergreen shrubs like boxwood or euonymus and perennial flowers.  

What are the best plants to provide shade for pool areas?

Trees such as oak, maple or birch can provide ample shade, while tall shrubs like juniper or hibiscus can also provide shade and privacy. 

Are there plants that add color to poolside landscapes?

Yes, flowering plants like roses, hibiscus or hydrangeas can add vibrant colors, while ornamental grasses like purple fountain grass or mondo grass can provide contrasting textures and hues. 


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