Pool Landscaping Design Guide

Every backyard pool environment needs good surrounding landscaping that helps you piece it all together and make it truly feel like a part of your home. So, in this article, we are going to cover the main benefits of pool landscaping, some potential watch outs, the different types of landscaping you can choose from, show off some design inspiration, and finish up with some tips for installing landscaping around your swimming pool. Ready? Let’s dive in.

Main Benefits

Okay, let’s get started with some of the main advantages that great pool landscaping can add to your backyard environment.

Aesthetics and Style

First and foremost, natural landscaping around your pool helps everything blend into the surrounding environment and helps you match up your pool area to the broader landscaping feel, aesthetic, and style around your home.

And the style you choose is completely up to you! It is complete personal preference, although most pool designers and builders are more than happy to lend a thought or two on some great landscaping options.

Noise and Visual Barrier

Not only can landscaping bring your style together, it can also help create a privacy barrier between you and your neighbors or any other surroundings. Tall trees and bushes are great for visual privacy especially if your neighbor’s house is pretty close by. Denser landscaping can provide a small noise barrier as well, although it won’t stop as much noise as a fence, so make sure to head over to my guide on pool fences for more on that subject.

Spacing and Feel

If you have a big backyard, having a pool smack dab in the middle of it with no surrounding landscaping can make it seem very isolated and out of place. Natural landscaping around the pool can help give the pool a “home” so to speak and a dedicated section of the yard that makes it feel a lot warmer, inviting, and private when you are hanging out poolside.

Watch Outs

When it comes to pool landscaping, you want to watch out for a few things.

First, when it comes to plants, you should probably avoid any deciduous plants that are going to drop their leaves every year, creating a lot of maintenance hassle for you. Look for evergreen plants that are going to keep their leaves year round.

Second, also concerning plants, be aware of the types of pests that the plant may attract. The last thing you want is a bunch of bugs crawling around your pool area when you are trying to relax.

Third, you should always be aware of the cost. Make sure to budget any plants or stonework into your overall build budget. Also decide if you are going to plant and lay everything yourself or if you are going to hire a professional, which might add to your total cost.

Types of Pool Landscaping

Now let’s get into some popular types of landscaping you can have around your pool. The possibilities are really endless here, so use these ideas just to get you started.


Personally, I think every pool needs to have some plants around it to help blend in with the surrounding environment.

Potted plants are great for having around the pool and can add a pop of color especially with something like an annual or perennial flower. Also make sure to consider the pot you put the plants in and how that matches up with your overall vibe.

If you have space for it, planters and larger bushes and trees are awesome for creating privacy walls and a cozier feel around your pool. Planters also help contain dirt so in the event of a heavy rainstorm, you don’t have a bunch of mud washing into your pool. If you aren’t using a planter, just make sure to set the right edging to prevent the same issue.

Grass is also a great touch around the pool. A lot of folks forget that there are so many different types of grass that can complement the lush greenery of your well mowed backyard, so make sure to consider all the options like ornamental grasses that can also add some great color.


If y’all have read my other pool design articles, you know that I am partial to including some natural stone in pretty much all of the pools I design and build. Maybe it’s because I live in the mountains and like the ruggedness of it, but I truly think that natural stone is just such a perfect fit around a large water feature and adds great dimension and shape to your pool area.

You can go a lot of different routes with stonework and mix and match as you like. Everything from pebble to large boulders can add great features to your pool environment, including rock waterfalls and grottos for your bigger budget projects.

Other Features

Also remember that other features like privacy fencing, lighting, and patio coping can be integral parts of your overall pool landscaping plan. I haven’t written my coping design article yet, but check the links here to head over to those guides for some inspiration as well.

Alrighty, let’s get into some pool landscaping ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Pool Landscaping Design Ideas

Here is an example of a pool I built several years ago that utilizes larger boulders to add texture and dimension to the pool and the surrounding plants and trees to create a cozy feel.

It is very popular these days to add landscaping into the shape of the pool as you see here with the central feature. It also does a nice job of breaking up the deck coping so it feels like a part of the yard.

A very tropical theme in this example, using the recess in their deck coping to add some pebbles and natural landscaping. The tree in the middle of their rock feature also adds some needed greenery.

Lots of Japanese Zen garden vibes here. I really like how the tree is the focal point of the whole space and the vines coming from the upper balcony are a nice touch as well.

Ultimate privacy right here. I like how the owners mixed in a bunch of different plant colors to bring the surrounding landscaping to life.

The minimal decking on the far side of this pool helps bring the pool into the yard a bit, which is great for making the spaces blend together.

I really like the use of pebble here around the infinity pool and a lot of short plants to create a very natural pool feel. The semi inground pool layout is also nice.

You can even have a tree in the middle of your pool. I love how the leaves from the trees extend over the water and create some natural shade.

Photo credit: ferncreekdesign.org

This is an example of a natural swimming pool with a lot of amazing overgrown greenery around it. I like the deck placement as well, it makes you feel like you’re sitting on the lake or pond.

Photo credit: outdoorhouseplan.com

Another example of a natural pool here, this time with a more terraced garden feel.

Installing Pool Landscaping

I always recommend that you think about pool landscaping during the initial design and build phase of your swimming pool. Certain elements of the shape and construction of your pool might have significant landscaping features incorporated in them (see several examples above), so you want to make sure you account for that as early as possible.

That being said, you can always do some landscaping after the fact if you are so inclined to do so, or maybe you inherited the pool at your new home.

The few jobs that I would not recommend doing DIY would be stonework and coping. Definitely hire a professional for these jobs if you don’t have significant stonework experience – it will likely end up costing you a lot less in the long run.

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And that’s about it for swimming pool landscaping. Have any questions? Drop me a line.

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