A swimming pool area can benefit from carefully chosen plants that soften edges and create interest near flat, paved areas. But it's important to choose low-maintenance plants that tolerate summer heat, look attractive throughout the season and aren't harmed when sprayed by pool water. Many good options exist, including evergreen or flowering shrubs, grasses for rear portions of planting beds, flowering perennials that add color, and annuals or other plants that work well in containers arranged poolside.
Evergreen shrubs that tolerate sun and grow slowly make good choices near a pool, with the dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca var. albertiana) at the top of this list. This shrub grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 2 through 8, loves sun and grows slowly to reach a final height of 3 feet or more. Plant several in a row for a bit of privacy, or alternate spruces with a flowering, deciduous shrub such as the butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii). This plant grows in USDA zones 5 through 10, also loves sun and is especially tolerant of dry conditions. It has a weeping form and is usually about 6 feet tall. Its flowers are tiny and create little or no mess when they fall, but they attract many butterflies for an added plus.
Dozens of flowering perennials thrive in sunny beds near a pool, but the daylily (Hemerocallis spp.) is one of the best. Available in many cultivars that generally grow in USDA zones 3 through 10, daylilies bloom in many different colors, with a abundance of flowers that each last a single day. They bloom in full sun from late spring through summer, so plant early- through late-bloomers for a long flowering season; when not in bloom, their rosette of sword shaped leaves is also an attractive accent. Extend the flowering season by adding coneflowers (Rudbeckia spp.) to poolside beds. They have daisylike flowers, usually in bright yellow with black centers, from late summer into early fall and perform best in full sun. They grow in USDA zones 3 or 4 through 8 or 9, depending on the cultivar.
Grasses and Succulents
Many foliage plants that grow in sun also thrive near a pool. Grasses can be especially interesting and come in many sizes and types. For a spot in the rear of a bed, try "Gold Band" pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana "Gold Band"), a 7-foot-tall plant that grows in USDA zones 7 through 11, loves sun and has golden-edged green blades and tall floral plumes in fall. For less height, grow atlas fescue (Festuca mairei), which is about 2 feet tall, has bluish-green, evergreen blades and grows in USDA zones 4 through 10. Succulent plants generally love sun and tolerate heat well, making them another good fit for poolside. The firestick plant (Euphorbia tirucalli "Rosea") is one example the grows in USDA zones 9 through 11 and has red, fleshy stems on a 3-foot-tall plant.
Mixing different plants in containers can add lots of interest to a pool area, allowing a gardener to change both the location and types of plants easily. Sun-loving annuals work well in containers; try zinnias (Zinnia elegans), which come in dwarf, medium and tall types, with flowers in many colors; mix them with petunias (Petunia x hybrid), which also love sun and have bright, colorful flowers. They're perennials in USDA zones 9 through 11 but are also grown as annuals. Fill out containers with low-growing ground covers, allowing them to spill over the pot's edges for added interest. "Angelina" sedum (Sedum rupestre "Angelina") is a good choice that's a sun-loving, drought-tolerant succulent with bright green, needlelike leaves that turn reddish in fall. It grows in USDA zones 5 through 9 and also works well planted in the ground to fill in poolside beds.
- Floridata: Picea Glauca Var. Albertiana
- Floridata: Buddleja Davidii
- Fine Gardening: Daylily
- Fine Gardening: Coneflower
- Fine Gardening: 10 Outstanding Succulents
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Zinnia Elegans
- Floridata: Petunia x Hybrida
- Fine Gardening: Tough Ground Covers
- Fine Gardening: 9 New and Unusual Grasses
- Photo Credit Jan Hanus/iStock/Getty Images
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