Beautiful pool with landscaping in a backyard

Best Plants for Swimming Pool Landscaping

Your swimming pool is the centerpiece of the backyard — the place to be in summer’s scorching hot temperatures. Flowers and greenery enhance the aesthetics, add a layer of privacy, and could even help to protect tender skin from biting insects.

As long as you’ve invested thousands of dollars installing a pool, why not spend a little more on the landscaping and hardscaping that surrounds it? DIYers wanting to remodel the pool area may be able to keep things simple (and less expensive) with low-maintenance plants.

Add Succulents Near the Pool for a Southwest Aesthetic   

Give your backyard a southwestern look with succulents like yucca, cacti, and aloe vera. This low-maintenance greenery is best for planting in hot, dry climates (USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 8-11).  If you live in a cooler climate, you can place plants in pots to bring inside during the winter. 

Smaller succulents like sedum and aeonium are nice for setting along pool edges. Aloe vera is attractive and the medicinal gel in its fronds is great for treating sunburns.

Add Shrubbery Around Your Yard’s Perimeter for Added Privacy

Even the highest fence may not provide enough privacy around the backyard pool.  Layering it with tall shrubbery and hedges reinforces the peace and solitude. Hydrangeas sprout thick greens and colorful blooms, hibiscus lend a tropical look, and viburnum’s white blooms turn to red fruits in the fall.

With fragrant flowers and lush greenery, these shrubs also enhance the pool area while keeping prying eyes at bay.Woman enjoying beautiful backyard full of plants near the swimming pool

  • Elderberry
  • Arborvitae
  • Butterfly bush
  • Beautyberry
  • Pyracantha
  • Lilac
  • Forsythia

Large bamboo stalks are nice for privacy, too, but because they are invasive, you’ll want to plant them in large urns and not directly into the ground.

Vine-covered trellises also pump up the privacy. Trumpet-like morning glories, chlorine-tolerant confederate jasmine, and fragrant Carolina jessamine add beauty.  

Keep Bugs Away with these Insect-Repelling Plants

Bare skin and biting bugs don’t mix, especially when you’re lounging around the pool in a bathing suit. Insect-repelling plants protect you from an onslaught of mosquitoes and gnats. Plant or place these herb and flower varieties around the pool area for extra protection against blood-sucking critters and unwanted visitors.

  • Chrysanthemums – naturally repel ticks, ants, silverfish, and cockroaches.
  • Lavender repels mosquitoes and keeps ants from building nests nearby.
  • Petunias – ward off aphids, hornworms, and squash bugs.

Herbs are also known to control mosquitoes, flies, spider mites, moths, and a host of other insects. Spice up the pool area with fragrant herbs like rosemary, basil, thyme, mint, cilantro, and garlic.

Brighten Up Your Pool Deck with Potted Plants

Going tropical around the pool all year long can be a challenge if you live in the North or Midwest. Fortunately, exotic and everyday flowers grow well in pots, urns, and containers. You can move these around in the summer and indoors in the winter. 

  • Bougainvillea – A tropical climber with bright pink blooms. Plant it in large containers.
  • Bird-of-paradise – The plant grows up to 10 feet tall with stunning floral shoots.
  • Banana trees – These have giant leaves and grow in different sizes.
  • Geraniums – They come in pink, red, and white and give the pool deck a splash of color (and they love the sun!)
  • Jasmine – A versatile plant that grows well in warm and cold climates.

One thing to note: Swimming pools can be harsh on some potted plants. Some greenery needs filtered sunlight, and the reflections from the water tend to magnify the sun’s heat. Chemicals and chlorine could also severely damage leaves and blooms.

Whether you hire a contractor or do it yourself, dressing up the pool with greenery, lighting, and ornamentals is a great way to turn your backyard oasis into a full-blown paradise. While adding all the improvements, don’t forget the everyday maintenance to keep your pool flowing smoothly.

Theresa Lovett is a home stager and landscape design writer. She loves entertaining and playing in her backyard, but she hates yard work. She recently added a bigger patio and pool so she’d have less grass to mow.