Landscaping around the swimming pool, part one
Up until the last couple of decades every swimming pool was built in some form of rectangular shape and painted with bright blue. The only design variations remained with the choice of tile, and even then there wasn’t a lot of creativity available for the average home owner. Now swimming pool styles are limited only by the imagination of the designer. Swimming pools offer not only summer cooling, fun and exercise, but they can become the focal point for a beautiful landscape. What you plant around your pool can add or subtract from the overall effect. You can destroy the success of even the most lovely pool by landscaping with the wrong plants – plants that can ruin the design or even cause severe damage to the structure of the pool itself.
Keep the water of your swimming pool clean. That means you need to avoid litter from shedding greenery. Evergreen plants and trees will minimize leaf drop into the swimming pool. Enthusiastically flowering plants will also create heavy petal drop. Most pool vacuums can handle a light dusting of organic litter, but a build up of leaves, petals and berries can choke up even good systems. Be particularly careful about pine trees that dump thick layers of pine needles. Don’t give these trees a home near your pool.
Mulching gardens around the swimming pool will both keep dust and dirt in place and add a decorative effect. Choose a material that will compliment the design of your pool. Stone or gravel is a practical choice. It is less likely to blow or wash into the water like tree bark. Pea gravel is softer on the feet and easier to dig through, but it can kick loose and end up on the pavement or in the pool. If you want to use gravel, consider the rounded stones of river-rock for a neat, formal look or a Japanese design. Or look for ¾ inch gravel that comes in decorative colors and stays in place better than pea gravel. A layer of weed block set under mulch or rock will discourage weeds and keep your design in place longer.
Any trees planted near a swimming pool must be chosen carefully. If the amount of litter from bark, leaves, needles, flowers or seeds is important, it comes second to the damage roots can cause. Larger trees can put out roots that can crack through even heavy layers of cement. Some trees are known for their damaging surface roots, like the Mulberry, Sycamore, Magnolia and Poplar. For poolside, choose smaller trees with well behaved root systems or make sure the trees are planted with root barriers and placed a reasonable distance from concrete structures. Avoid trees that drop fruits and berries that will stain pavements. And to plant the right tree in the right location you need to find out the mature size of the tree. The cutest young tree can turn into a monster in a remarkably short time.
More information is available in ‘Landscaping around the swimming pool, part two’.
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