Landscaping is the final phase of completing any outdoor living space. Once the structures are completed and the pool and decking are installed, softscape is the final piece of the design and the one that will have possibly the greatest impact on the overall feel of the space. Your UNIQUE plant palette can create a lush tropical oasis, a minimalist desertscape or the formal feel of an old world English garden. Many homeowners worry that having a pool limits their choices for plants and the overall style of area. But in reality, there is a wide assortment of plants which can look beautiful around your pool without creating maintenance issues. 

Tropical Oasis

Palm trees are always a great addition to create a UNIQUE tropical feel. The Pygmy Date and the Mediterranean Fan are two smaller palm varieties which produce little debris but add interest and texture near your pool. The Pygmy Date Palm has a more feathery soft frown while the Mediterranean Fan has a sharper more angular look. This contrast as well as the different shades of green create interest as larger background plant. Ponytail Palms and the Madagascar Palm also make nice specimens for a center piece in a planting or in a large planter or urn. Color can be introduced with the Tropical Bird of Paradise, Ice Plant, Wedelia, Kangaroo Paw and Dwarf Ruellia. Iris and ornamental grasses also provide a long wispy foliage as well as some additional color.

Not everyone wants to surround their pool and outdoor living area with tropical plantings which require a certain amount of care as well as supplemental watering. Selecting a more native plant palette can reduce the maintenance requirements as well as the daily supplemental watering but still provide interest and beauty in your UNIQUE landscape. A variety of agave and aloe can add both color and a variety of shapes and textures to your landscape. The Century Plant, Octopus Agave and Variegated Agave will all become rather large and offer sharp geometric points and various shades of green. The Parry’s Agave and the Queen Victoria Agave have a more spherical growth habit and will remain more compact. While having certain spreading cactus near a pool or living area is not ideal, there are some varieties which would be very suitable for this application. The Fence Post Cactus and Totem Pole Cactus are tall and more cylindrical and will provide both height and texture to your design. Smaller Golden Barrel Cactus, Easter Lily Cactus and Pincushion Cactus all flower in the spring to provide pops of color and are petite and slower growing than some other varieties.

Plants to Avoid Near Your Pool

It can be very tempting to select some of the many profusely flowering shrubs which grow in the valley, but you need to remember that those flowers last a few days and then fall to the ground and blow right into your new pool. Here are a few of the worst offenders:

  • Bougainvillea
  • Hibiscus
  • Orange Jubilee
  • Arizona Yellow Bells
  • Oleander

These plants tend to create more debris and require more maintenance than many other plant selections. But if you are willing to accept the mess that comes with these plants, they are beautiful. What is most important to remember when you are talking to your UNIQUE designer about your landscape is the feel that you desire. Your designer will be able to suggest many different plants to you and also explain to you how much maintenance each one requires.