A luxury swimming pool is the centerpiece of your backyard, but it’s not a stand-alone feature if you plan to entertain, relax and fully maximize the benefits of your outdoor living environment. A pool is one component of a total landscape plan that takes into account the way you spend your time—or rather, the way you hope to spend your time.
Coming out of the pandemic, many of us are re-evaluating the way our homes function on the inside and outside, and realizing that our properties can be so much more.
The same goes for your pool space. It can be so much more when you incorporate complementary landscaping that makes it feel like a true retreat.
When planning pool landscaping, there are plants you want to avoid—and selections that will enhance the space, without adding extra work. Also, we like to think beyond softscape (shrubs, annuals, perennials) and incorporate materials like stone outcroppings, rock features, pergolas and lighting to extend the time you can use the pool area.
Here are five of the best poolside landscaping features for your New York or Connecticut property.
#1 Select Mess-Free Plants
Flowering shrubs that shed their buds and plants with foliage that drops throughout the growing season is more of a pain than a pleasure in a poolside landscape. The last thing you want to do is spend time skimming plant debris out of your pool. So, you’ll want to avoid shrubs like azaleas and crepe myrtles, for example. Keep in mind, you can minimize cleanup and landscape maintenance by selecting shrubs like boxwoods and other evergreen varieties.
#2 Size Matters—Slow or Fast Growing Poolside Plants
Another consideration is plant growth. Slow-growing plants will prevent the need for frequent pruning. However, you might want evergreens that grow in quickly if the plan is to create natural screening to increase privacy around your pool.
Some slow-growing varieties for New York include Franklin’s gem boxwood, which grows in a low, rounded shape and reaches about 2 feet in height. Emerald ‘N Gold Euonymus has variegated gold-and-green foliage, stays small and is low-maintenance.
If you’re looking for more coverage and natural screening from plant material, arborvitae stays green year-round. Grasses are also an option, though you’ll deal with cutting them back in fall or early spring, and there is a period of time when they are less attractive as you wait for new growth to fill in. The key is to talk to a landscape designer about plant maintenance and growth patterns before committing to selections for around your pool.
#3 Rock Outcroppings and Stone Accents
Stone doesn’t need to be watered. You don’t have to prune it or worry about its appearance during hot summers. Not to mention, pests and disease simply aren’t an issue. But beyond the inherent maintenance-free aspect of stone is its beauty and structural integrity — the depth, texture and visual interest rock brings to a poolside landscape. Not to mention, no two natural stone pieces are the same, so you can create dynamic outcroppings and even use stone in a functional way to create seating that looks organic and blends with the outdoor environment.
#4 Pergolas and Shade Structures
While not technically “landscaping,” we consider shade structures, modern pergolas and pool outbuildings as part of the outdoor living environment. These features should be incorporated into a comprehensive pool/landscape design, along with plants, lighting and landscaping. Pergolas can create privacy and offer a foundation for growing trailing plants. You can use pergolas to mark entry points to different outdoor rooms in your poolscape. Shade structures become the “rooftops” of outdoor rooms in the landscape.
#5 Pool and Landscape Lighting
Landscape and pool lighting extends your time outdoors — and, it creates architectural interest by illuminating your home, trees and entertainment spaces. Importantly, landscape lighting is a necessary safety measure, especially by a pool. We always recommend illuminating walkways and gathering spaces along with pool lighting.
Lighting can bring an outdoor environment alive, or it can cheapen the feel if not properly designed.
Custom-designed landscape lighting takes into account security, how you use the space, and features to highlight that will add visual appeal. Don’t be tempted to go for a DIY lighting kit or to plant your own spotlights into landscape beds. You simply will not get the same professional, artistic effect.
Add Life to Your Pool with Landscaping
Create an outdoor living space with a luxury pool that will make staying at home a true pleasure. We’re here to help, and our COVID-19 best practices make a personal visit from one of our professionals a safe, helpful experience.