Pool friendly plants
|Beautifying your swimming pool area with plants not only adds colour and depth to the surrounding landscape but also can provide shade, privacy and protection from wind. And while many of us have our favourite go-to species, they may not be the best choices for growing near a saltwater or chlorinated pool.
Pool friendly plants must be capable of thriving in semi-shaded to full sunlight, tolerant of wind due to the normally exposed nature of pool decks, and be able to withstand intermittent salt or chlorine exposure from pool splash.
In some cases, notably heated pools protected from prevailing winds, increased humidity levels and intense sunlight reflected from pool water can create a harsh microclimate that puts plants under further duress.
Regardless of whether you have a recently built formal pool or an old-fashioned freeform design, choosing the right plants, shrubs and trees for your pool area can save you time, money and physical effort.
Choose litter-free plants
Choosing plants with minimal leaf litter, and preferably ones without spines, thorns or seed pods, will mean less time needed to vacuum the pool – and less effort required from your filtration system.
“The messiest plants are gum trees which drop leaves and twigs all year round,” says celebrity gardener and Scotts Australia ambassador Don Burke. “Other messy plants are jacarandas, silky oaks and Illawarra flame trees. What makes those trees such a pain is the fact that they drop their messy leaves and flowers right through the warm months while you’re using the pool.”
Don recommends palm trees, cordylines and flax plants along with large leaved shrubs as ideal pool deck-friendly plants as these are easier to clean up and don’t drop leaves as often.
“It also pays to look at the way wind blows around the pool,” he says. “Try to plant trees and shrubs on the opposite side to the incoming winds.”
Avoid robust root systems
Species with notoriously invasive and potentially destructive root systems like bamboo and umbrella trees might look majestic above-ground but below it can damage pool paving, underground water pipes, and even the pool shell itself.
Other species to avoid include rubber trees, messy melaleucas and deciduous trees. Also watch out for plants prone to pests and diseases, as pesticides and pool water are a dangerous mix.
Spring brings pollen
While nothing can be done to prevent microscopic pollen spores from blowing into your pool while you’re swimming in it, regular upkeep throughout spring will ensure they don’t wreak too much havoc on its cleaning and filtration equipment.
Regularly clean baskets during periods of heavy pollen explosions, replacing any that are faulty, broken or not operating properly. If your pool is flanked by a lot of flowering plants, consider attaching a fine material such as cheesecloth or pantyhose to your skimmer before cleaning the pollen from the surface of the water.
If you plan to go away for the weekend, roll out your pool cover to prevent pollen from being blown into the pool while you’re away.
Pay close attention to new plants
No matter how hardy a plant is, you will need to take extra special care of it until it is properly established. Regularly deep-water plantings, especially when you first put them in the ground, and continue to do this at least twice a month during dry periods.
Smaller plants and seedlings will also need protection from the sun, so generously mulch around these plants to regulate soil temperature and retain moisture. (Avoid root rot by keeping mulch away from the trunk.) You might need to consider a light shade cloth if it’s in direct sun for most of the day.
Saltwater swimming pools
Salt-tolerant coastal species like palms, agave attenuates, bromeliads, cycads, coastal banksia, dianella, pig face and echiums are ideal species to plant near saltwater swimming pools. As a general rule of thumb, horticulturalists tend to recommend plants with silvery, furry or waxy leaves. Think bromeliads, agaves, aloe, yucca and cycads.
Chlorinated swimming pools
While no plant suits chlorinated pool splash all day long, some are particularly hardy, including cordylines, golden cane palms, murrayas, agaves, acalyphas, erigeron daisy or star jasmine. A good guide is to lean towards plants with larger, leathery leaves.
Image courtesy Byron Luxury Beach Houses
Image courtesy of A Total Concept
Image courtesy of Polar Pools