Pools and Plants

Many folks dream of a pool of their own. To relax by the water, daydream, sip luscious drinks…. So the dream does not become a nightmare of constantly scooping plants bits out of the pool – you need a little planning.  Plus the proper plants.



Plan Ahead

Plan for low maintenance. Select plants that are relatively free of leaf drop and other debris. The only plants entirely free of debris are made of silk, so expect some maintenance.

Plan for dramatic plants. A pool is a very strong accent in the landscape. This calls for some bold plants to help enhance the setting.

Plan for a super hot site. Pools reflect light – lots of light. Pool spaces full of reflected light are too bright for many plants.

Plan for plant needs. Roots need space and water. Cool decking can be hard to deal with if you’re a plant.

Plan for the splash factor. Chlorine burns many species.



Think Native

All this planning is not as hard as it sounds! We live in the desert. In the wilderness around us there are any number of plants already able to take reflected light bouncing off canyon walls. Plants that can deal with soil chemicals. Plants that don’t shed much because they are thrifty with their resources. Bold, dramatic plants that look charming beside the pool.

Dalea has silvery foliage that tolerates the reflected light around pools, plus lovely purple flowers.

Fill the area with low-water groundcovers that can take the poolside environment. For flowers, select from Texas yellow dot (Wedelia  trilobata or Shagneticola trilobata), damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana), Saltillo primrose (Oenotheria stubbei), bush morning glory (Convolvulus cneorum), trailing dalea (Dalea greggii), or golden dalea (Dalea capitata). Consider evergreen perennials like germander, rosemary and even garlic chives – they can be used in cooking.  Note that some common landscape plants are not on this list. Plant them somewhere that is not poolside.

Ornamental grasses sway in light breezes, adding motion to the landscape.

Ornamental grasses and grass-like plants are also excellent around pools. They are low maintenance, virtually litter free, plus versatile and beautiful. Grasses also provide something often lacking in rigid desert landscapes – the sound and feeling of motion with even a mild breeze.

Palms make a bold statement in the landscape.

Palm trees are almost de rigueur for a poolside. Many palm species become very large however, so select carefully. Avoid the ones that get so tall that all you see is a “telephone pole.” The Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis) grows to around 8 to 12 feet wide and tall, with multiple trunks, and more cute little pups forming around the base.


With planning and the right plants, your poolside oasis can truly be a place to relax in, plus a low-care dream.



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