Garden Pool Design Guide

I love a good garden-inspired swimming pool. The lush landscaping around the pool, the natural colors, the stonework…it all comes together to make a very peaceful and relaxing setting in your backyard. There are a lot of ways you can approach a garden pool design, so I’ll cover the main design approaches you can take, give you some ideas spark inspiration, and some other tips for installing this beautiful type of swimming pool. Let’s get started.

Main Benefits

First off, let’s cover some of the primary benefits of choosing a garden-inspired pool vs. contemporary, classic, or other pool designs.

Natural Look

The primary goal of a garden pool is to have a really natural look, which blends well with the landscaping in your backyard or surrounding mother nature. Look for plants that are native to the area and can work well near a pool (more on that below). For colors, tans and greys typically work best, but it really depends on the area.


A lot of natural landscaping around the pool brings a lot of natural privacy features with it. Whether you have tall grass, some full bushes, or a few big trees around the pool, they provide nice protection from your neighbors or other areas of your home.

Peaceful Feeling

There’s something to be said about the peaceful feeling of being surrounded by nature. The flow of the leaves and grass around the pool and the aromas that all your plants give off will produce a relaxing feeling for everyone in the pool.

Watch Outs

The only “watch out” (I wouldn’t call it a disadvantage, just something to make sure you consider) is choosing the right type of plants to surround your pool. You need plants that are easy to maintain, don’t drop their leaves, can withstand the climate around the pool, and obviously look good.

These plants are going to get splashed with chlorine and other typical pool chemicals and likely be in a more humid climate than they would in any other spot in your backyard. They will also most likely be subject to a lot of direct sunlight since most pools aren’t going to have coverage over top, so they need to be able to withstand getting soaked with sunlight. Consider the insects that some plants might attract too. The last thing you want is a home for all sorts of crawlers around your pool.

Types of Garden Pools

Garden pools are inspired by the landscaping around the pool, so there aren’t many “types” or typical design configurations that a lot of pool builders will offer. It is really up to you and your landscaping architect to come up with the vision, although most folks choose some sort of freeform pool configuration. Like I mentioned above, the landscaping, colors, and stone you choose has the most impact on the overall design of the pool.

Here are some of my favorite plants to get your landscaping search started:

  • Banana trees
  • Zebra grass
  • Agave attenuata
  • Staghorn fern
  • Creeping jenny

Alright, let’s get to some design inspiration.

Garden Pool Design Ideas

The rock work around this pool that I built makes it feel like a little desert oasis and blends well with their retaining wall and walkway that leads up to the house.

Here is another pool I designed and built a number of years ago with some ornamental grass and larger stones.

Photo credit:

Garden pools can also be natural pool designs like the one pictured here. I love the lushness of this landscape.

The tree in the middle of this pool and the huge bushes and trees surrounding the pool make you feel like you’re in a forest. I love it.

This small garden pool has great stonework around the perimeter and I like the little seating nook tucked behind a row of plants.

This pool is right in the middle of a huge garden, which is another great option if you already have a lot of great landscaping around your yard or are planning to. The right side of the pool tucks into a very private area among the bushes.

Installing a Garden Pool

Like I mentioned above, garden pools start early in the design process. The shape of the pool, colors you use, stone choices, and of course the surrounding landscaping all need to be considered in the initial design. Make sure to tell your pool builder that the garden vibe is the design you want when you get started.

Lastly, I highly recommend choosing landscaping that is native to the area (and can survive around a pool, like I mentioned earlier) and colors that blend in with the natural surroundings.

Garden Pool Cost

A garden pool doesn’t inherently cost more than any other inground pool. It really depends on the size, shape, features, and other complexities of the build. The only major additional cost is landscaping, which can typically run about $3,000-$5,000. For cost data, head over to my average inground pool cost study.

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That’s about it for garden design pools. Have questions about them? Shoot me a note.

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