Pool Landscaping Ideas to Elevate Your Backyard
For many homeowners who are embracing the idea of building a pool, or even upgrading or renovating an existing pool, the surrounding landscape is just as important as the pool itself. Not limited to flower gardens, hedge borders, and traditional pool landscaping ideas, such projects also involve the use of pavers, rock slabs, and stone hardscapes to create fire pits, fireplaces, and outdoor kitchens.
The common denominator with pool landscape projects is creating a space that’s equal parts functional and enjoyable as it is uplifting and beautiful. While pool projects can seem like a daunting and costly undertaking, many homeowners are able to construct a backyard pool space that’s well within their means. Much of the project depends on the size and shape of the backyard, the microclimate, and the overall vision behind the space. And that’s where we come in to help.
At Environmental Designs, we specialize in Colorado pool landscaping projects that add new life to ordinary backyards. We handle the design and installation of hardscapes, like stone patio spaces, pool decks, and rock walls, as well as softscapes, like the selection and placement of plants, flowers, and trees. Our team works with homeowners to create landscapes that best accommodate their unique properties and outdoor living dreams. In this post, we discuss the many considerations that go into the planning, designing, and execution of these transformative projects.
Get Started with Your Pool Landscaping Project
Pool landscaping projects take many different shapes depending on the property and home. They can range from quaint, jungle-like oases to large, elaborate pools meant for swimming. Pool landscape installations can also be particularly detail-oriented, often involving a collaborative effort between homeowners, hardscape contractors, and landscape architects. Alternatively, they can also be modest nooks that provide Zen-like simplicity and minimalist, natural features.
Compared to traditional backyard landscaping projects, pools involve greater use of hardscapes and stone elements. Pool decks and hardscapes will typically include materials like travertine, flagstone, exposed aggregate, brick, tile, and various forms of stone. In turn, the use of plants and organic features often calls for added consideration about what species to plant, design arrangements and sequences, and ongoing maintenance once the project is complete.
Pool Landscape Design Considerations
There’s a lot of thought and consideration that goes into adding a pool or water element to a backyard landscape. Defining the underlying intention behind how the pool will be used – for entertainment, exercise, aesthetics, etc. – can help dictate much of the decision-making. Some of the most important boxes to check include:
- Topography & Space – The layout of the property can have considerable influence over the landscape design, especially when considering sunlight exposure, sloping properties, available space, and overall plant selection.
- Functionality – High traffic pools used for leisure will involve a greater level of function design consideration compared to pools used for aesthetics and visual appeal. Pool entry points, borders, size, and surrounding elements (e.g., outdoor kitchens, fire pits, bars, etc.) can play into surrounding plant selection.
- Material Selection – The beauty of pool projects is the range of materials that can be used. From plant selection like ground cover and shrubs to pool deck material like limestone, there are many ways to customize and personalize based on what materials are used.
- Safety – Projects involving families with children and pets will prioritize safety over anything else. This means taking into consideration slip-resistant pool deck materials, fencing, bordering, and lighting.
- Privacy – Properties with neighbors closely nearby often call for added privacy, whether that involves tall hedges and tree coverage, vine-covered walls, or shade structures.
- Lighting – The right style of outdoor lighting can have a tremendous impact on the nighttime mood of a pool landscape. Outside of the water itself, using certain lighting structures with garden arrangements and plant life can illuminate a backyard space after the sun goes down.
- Aesthetics – Pool landscape designs will often be an extension of the home. For mid-century modern landscaping, plant arrangement might be more linear and geometric versus more naturally placed trees.
Also take into consideration where your pool is located in proximity to your home, including existing garden and landscape features, surrounding structures, and other overlooked details like utility lines, water spigots, and electrical sources.
5 Pool Landscaping Ideas to Explore
At Environmental Designs, we help create unique and vibrant pool landscapes that combine natural elements with stunning outdoor living spaces. To help get your creative juices flowing, below are several pool landscaping ideas based on projects that we’ve worked on in the past.
Add Elevated Contour with Natural Boulder Walls
Boulder walls offer a stunning addition to poolscapes. Not only do they add an elevated look that works well with subtly-sloping properties, but they provide landscape versatility with different plants that can be embedded within the stone elements. Boulders and stone walls also offer a natural launching pad for endless enjoyment, as in the case of the stone slab “diving board” used for this project.
An expansive stone pool deck merges nicely with a lush green lawn and garden bed pockets containing native grasses and flowering plants. In addition to the diving pool, a nearby fire element provides a place to warm up and socialize.
Meld Mid-Century Modern with Natural Greenery
Modern dwellings don’t always require a stripped-back, industrial look. Enjoy the best of both worlds with a contemporary mid-century modern landscape that captures the organic greenery of the property. This project combines a traditional grass lawn with surrounding pockets of tall grasses and evergreen borders.
An angled overflow feature adds unique contour to a portion of the pool. The muted tone and clean lines of edging work seamlessly with the vibrant green lawn and overall minimalist theme of the home.
Combine Traditional Poolscaping with a Lush Fire Pit Landscape
From one point of view, this poolscape consists primarily of clean brick pavers and simple hardscape structures. But when you pivot your perspective 180-degrees, you’ll notice a neighboring fire pit space that’s abundantly landscaped with various shrubs, trees, and ornamental grasses.
An ideal gathering space overlooking a stunning vista, this fire pit nook provides a welcoming retreat nestled in a flourishing natural landscape.
Create a Minimalist, Mediterranean Pool Landscape Design
Vast, open spaces allow for limitless creativity. This project brings a Grecian vibe to the backyard with a Mediterranean-influenced pool landscape design that’s both expansive and minimal.
Stone poolside pillars and an elevated, mixed vegetation landscape add character to this otherwise bare concept. We included a colorful combination of exotic evergreen trees, low-lying shrubs and ornamental grasses, and dense green ground covers.
Bring Colors & Aromas to the Backyard Pool Landscape
Turn ordinary concepts into extraordinary features that stimulate the senses in more ways than one. A flower garden can add stunning beauty to a backyard pool landscape while uplifting one’s olfaction when flowers are in bloom.
With separate pools for swimming and visual admiration, this unique landscape blends a combination of water elements designed for both enjoyment and tranquility.
Common Questions About Pool Landscape Design
With so much that goes into a backyard pool project, there are a lot of inquiries that often come up. From the estimated cost, material selection, and design, below we take the guesswork out of many common questions that often come up.
How Much Does Landscaping Around a Pool Cost?
The cost to install an inground pool varies widely, ranging from $30K to $70K on up. According to Bob Vila, the average cost of a new pool installation in America is just over $50K.
The landscape can be a significant chunk of the overall investment, typically costing between $2K upwards to $10K, depending on the project. The average cost of landscaping can also be priced around $4 to $12 per square foot to plant different flowers, shrubs and trees.
For the most accurate cost estimate, consult with trusted professionals in landscape design and architecture for a price estimate more in line with your unique project.
How to Landscape Around Above-Ground Pools?
Landscaping around an above-ground pool requires a bit of creativity with the space at hand. Some above-ground pools are built on slopes, which allow for a tapered landscape design that may include different shrubs, bushes, and boulders. You can explore a range of ideas like:
- Bushes and Hedges – particularly tall varieties that help create a privacy barrier, are great landscape options for above-ground pools.
- Ornamental Grasses – which come in many heights, provide a versatile option for all types of Rocky Mountain poolscapes.
- Tall Succulents – like Prickly Pear and Yucca, are wonderful low-maintenance landscaping options for above-ground poolside landscaping.
- Trees – can offer a transformative addition to above-ground pool landscapes. Depending on the climate, fruit trees, palm trees, and maples make for popular choices.
- Evergreens – are available in a range of sizes and shapes and provide a dense layer of privacy coverage with a natural, bright green appearance.
What Should You Not Plant Around a Pool?
When planning landscape projects around pools, it’s important to be mindful of certain plants that shed leaves, attract insects, or require a high level of maintenance. In general, it’s best to avoid:
- Plants that attract insects and bees, like Calamintha, Nepeta, and various types of flowers.
- Trees that produce substantial debris and drop a lot of leaves, like Evergreen Elm and Ash trees.
- Prickly plants like roses and vines can be unpleasant when in close contact, especially when it comes time to prune.
Most pools are installed in open spaces that receive substantial direct sunlight. It’s also important to choose plants that can accommodate your unique microclimate, which can vary widely throughout Colorado.
What Can I Put Around My Pool Instead of Grass?
While traditional grass lawns are still common for poolside landscapes, they’re not always the most efficient. There are many terrific lawn alternatives that add personality to home’s poolscape, including:
- Shrub Beds
- Flower Beds
- Native Perennials
- Pea Gravel and Mulch
- Ornamental Grasses
- Creeping Thyme and Corsican Mint
- Ground Covers, like Clover, Evergreen Moss, and Barberry Cotoneaster
Depending on the landscape, other low-lying plants like certain bushes, shrubs, and ornamental grasses can provide great options instead of the average grass lawn. Arrangement and selection are key, so work with an experienced landscape contractor to make the most of your pool space.
What Kind of Stone Goes Around a Pool?
The type of stone used around a pool can sometimes influence plant selection and sequence. For pool deck surfaces, the most common types of stone are limestone, bluestone, flagstone, sandstone, marble, granite, slate, travertine, and ceramic materials like porcelain. These materials often come in the form of pavers, or paving stones, which can be cut evenly and geometrically or as natural, irregularly shaped slabs.
For gardens and drainage, crushed stone, pea gravel, and pebbles are suitable options. All of these stone applications have varying colors and tones and can work in harmony with vegetation and landscapes to create a stunning appearance.
What Are The Best Pavers to Put Around a Pool?
A fundamental component for pool projects, pavers are an important complement to the surrounding landscape design. Pavers are safer than concrete, as their non-slick surface helps prevent slip and fall accidents on wet pool decks. They’re also resilient in wide climate regions like Colorado as they can withstand freeze and thaw cycles with less cracking and deterioration.
Of all the varieties of paving stones available, porcelain pavers are one of the best options to put around a pool. Not only are porcelain pavers easy to clean and maintain, but the material is highly durable for high-traffic areas. Unlike permeable stone, porcelain pavers are like tile and they won’t stain or crack. They also come in many styles and colors, allowing a wider range of outdoor design capabilities and at a lower cost compared to other pool paver options.
What Can I Put Around My Pool for Privacy?
The sky’s the limit with creative pool privacy ideas. Between natural barriers and manmade structures, there are many ways to add privacy around your pool, including:
- Hedges are a wonderful choice for lush foliage and tall privacy protection
- Trellis panels provide a garden-friendly option conducive for upward growing vines
- Pergolas provide a perfect poolside addition for active spaces
- Canopies and enclosures, including retractable and basic textile options, can add a layer of privacy
- Privacy Trees can provide a remote, secluded feeling, especially with dense-growing species
- Fencing, while a traditional choice, can be tastefully installed to balance aesthetics and privacy
For additional ideas, consult a pool landscaping professional to help you identify the plants and structures best suited for your property and climate.
Need Help from Experienced Pool Landscape Professionals?
At Environmental Designs, our experienced team of landscape architects and designers are experts in backyard pool landscaping projects. We can provide professional guidance and insight into the best plants and arrangements that work well with specific types of poolscapes and unique microclimates. The landscape design principles we apply to our projects help us create visually pleasing and creative designs for all of our clients.
With over 30 years of landscape design and installation experience, our Colorado landscaping team is well equipped to lead pool landscaping design projects of all shapes and sizes. Contact us today to get started!