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Escape the cold with a garden oasis

07 July 2013 swimart

Escape the cold with a garden oasis

Escape the cold with a garden oasis

 

Nothing completes a fantastic pool area like an amazing set of plants, and winter is the perfect time to get your garden ready so it looks amazing by the time summer rolls around.
A key step to making your backyard feel like your very own tropical escape, achieving the right combination of greenery can, however, sometimes prove difficult.

But choosing plants for your pool area needn’t be hard; it is much like selecting plants for the rest of your garden, with a few extra things to consider. There are the usual concerns about what type of soil you have, drainage and nutrient availability, plus sun and pool chemical exposure and the issue of a ‘micro-climate’ (especially if you have a heated pool).

 

What to considerplants_and_swimwear4

Whether your pool is heated or not can actually have quite an influence on the type of plants suited to your pool area. A heated pool may raise humidity levels in the immediate vicinity of the pool, creating the aforementioned ‘micro-climate’. A non-heated pool can also contribute to an increase in humidity as the water evaporates into the surrounding air.

Another thing to consider is that the pool area is usually exposed to extreme levels of direct sunlight all year round; if any delicate plants were on your list of greens for the pool area, it might be better if you swap them for a more sturdy plant, or position them so they are shaded by other plants.

There are also plants that are best to completely avoid; trees with fine leaves will make maintenance a nightmare and possibly damage your filtration system when the foliage drops into the pool.  Plants with strong, vigorous root systems are also unadvisable, as the roots may damage the pool’s structural integrity over time. Plants that attract birds may also make cleaning your pool much more difficult.

plants_and_swimwear3Saltwater vs chlorine

Different plants are better suited to saltwater or chlorine pools, so also take this into account.

Some plants cannot withstand high salt levels - however, luckily for those with saltwater pools, many of our Australian native plants are coastal species that are quite salt tolerant and can also survive without a constant water supply.

Opting for more salt tolerant coastal species for saltwater pools will ensure you don’t end up with a bunch of dead trees around your pool shortly after you plant them.

With a typical chlorine pool, you need to consider the affect splashes of chlorine and other pool chemicals will have on the leaves and root systems in the pool area. Plants with leathery leaves are more resilient to the conditions, and will do well to withstand the splashes of corrosive pool chemicals.

As a general rule, picking stronger, more durable plants is the way to go.

Aesthetics

plants_and_swimwear5

Now that you’ve figured out your options around what choices are practical, you can now focus on the fun bit – the aesthetics!

Here are some questions to think about when deciding on what general theme or feel you want to achieve in your pool area:

  • Do you want the pool area to blend with your other living areas?
  • What colours, textures and materials have you used/are you planning on using in the pool area and how will these work with the plants you want to establish?
  • Consider the fencing (layout, material). How this will work with the plants?
  • Do you have an overall theme running through your home?

Answering these questions before choosing the plants for your pool area will help create a unified design that will work with the rest of your home.
 

Here are some plant suggestions for themed pool areas.

Tropical delight
Tropical plants are a popular choice for around the swimming pool, as they give the owners the feel of coming home to their very own oasis. Shrubs and trees with lush green foliage will suit this theme, such as palm trees and banana trees.

Exotic east
Unfortunately, screening plants with an Eastern feel such as bamboo often fall into the category of plants with vigorous roots that are likely to cause extensive and costly damage to your pool’s structure. However there are other options that will still give you the look you want, including the glossy abelia (large flowered abelia) and the sublime lilly pilly.

Aussie all the way
Natives are a great choice for the pool area, especially if you have a saltwater pool, as Aussie plants tend to have a high tolerance to salt and are generally pretty resilient. Native grasses such as Lomandra are hardy enough to withstand a trampling from the kids when they lose the volleyball in the garden, and they also look great when planted in bunches. Other natives that are great for beside the pool include species of wattle or banksia, or bottlebrush.