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What are the Best Plants for around a Pool in Australia?

By Swimming Pool Kits Direct Team, November 20th, 2023

Selecting the right plants for your fibreglass pool surroundings can be challenging. The ideal plants for pool landscaping are influenced by your local climate and the desired atmosphere for your pool area—whether you envision a lush and tropical paradise or a more formal Mediterranean setting, we've got the perfect plants for your backyard oasis. Our curated list of top plant picks, along with some useful hints and tips, is here to assist you in achieving the ideal pool landscaping.

 
        Article Summary
    1. Strategic Plant Selection: Explore the importance of choosing the right plants based on your climate zone, considering factors like resilience, maintenance, and safety.

    2. Top Plant Picks for Australia: Delve into recommended plant choices for tropical, subtropical, temperate, and cool/southern regions, ensuring your poolside landscaping thrives.

    3. Which Plants to Avoid: Learn why plants with small leaves, thorns, or attracting bees should be avoided near pools, and discover problem varieties that may pose challenges.

    4. Potted Plant Ideas: Top tips on which plants will work well in a container.

    5. Strategic Plant Placement: Understand the significance of strategic plant placement, from creating a tropical feel with layered arrangements to softening landscapes with cascading options. 

“Choosing the right plants can transform your pool area, start planning the plant selections early on in your pool project and make sure you choose plants that will work well for your climate ”.

Colm

Swimming Pool Kits Direct

Landscaping around your pool isn't just about making it Insta-worthy (though that's a plus). Beyond the visual appeal, a thoughtfully designed poolside landscape contributes significantly to the overall ambiance and functionality of your new pool area. Sometimes left as an afterthought, the landscaping should be planned right from the beginning - even as early as when you choose the size and shape of your pool. In this article we’ll dive in to which plants are best suited to a pool environment and give you ideas about how to incorporate plants in to your landscaping design.

Which Plants are Best Around a Pool?

When selecting plants for poolside landscaping in Australia, it's crucial to consider factors like climate, maintenance, and safety. 

Australia is big! There are a number of different climate zones so it’s important to take this in to consideration when asking on online forums for advice or using Pinterest for inspiration. Its crucial to know your climate and plant accordingly. 

Top Tip: Call in to your local garden centre and ask their advice. Which plants should I use around my pool is a very common question and one they will be asked a lot! So make the most of their knowledge and create a list of recommendations.

We’ve compiled a list of plants that are popular in the different climatic zones in Australia

Tropical and Northern Regions

  • Bougainvillea: Vibrant and hardy, these colourful climbers thrive in warm climates. They’re great for giving a pop of colour on a fence so if you’re layering your plants, put this at the back so it can climb the fence.
  • Hibiscus: Known for their large, tropical flowers, providing a burst of colour.
  • Foxtail Palm (Wodyetia bifurcata): A striking palm with a unique frond structure, well-suited to tropical landscapes.
  • Heliconia: One of our favourited! This plant adds a tropical vibe to a pool area and easy to maintain. Rio Nights is a popular variety.
  •  Ginger Plants (Alpinia spp.): Ornamental and fragrant, thriving in tropical conditions.
  •  Cordyline: Bringing colour to the pool area this hardy plant can tolerate both sun and shade, making it a versatile choice 

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Subtropical Regions

  • Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae): Another favourite for us they have  striking foliage and unique flowers. They create a tropical feel but make sure you have enough room as they do grow fast and due to their vigorous root system it’s recommended to plant them in pots. If a plant has an extensive root system then they can disturb the pool coping tiles.
  • Heliconia: One of our favourited! This plant adds a tropical vibe to a pool area and easy to maintain. Rio Nights is a popular variety.
  • Bougainvillea: Vibrant and hardy, these colourful climbers thrive in warm climates. They’re great for giving a pop of colour on a fence so if you’re layering your plants, put this at the back so it can climb the fence.
  • Agapanthus: Hardy and low-maintenance, offering clusters of blue or white flowers.
  • Dwarf Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii): Compact and elegant, suitable for subtropical landscapes.
  • Canna Lillies: Providing a tropical feel and a pop of colour these are a classic favourite for poolside landscaping in Australia
  • Cordyline (Cordyline fruticosa): Bringing colour to the pool area this hardy plant can tolerate both sun and shade, making it a versatile choice 

    Temperate Regions 

    Depending on where you are, there are a variety of plants that can work well in this climate. If you are located in areas further North such as Sydney you can select plants from the Sub-Tropical list above. However, if you are located in the colder regions of the temperate zone then the below list gives you options that work well.
  • Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos): Unique Australian natives with tubular, paw-shaped flowers. An Australian native is always a great choice to include in your landscaping plan. Their hardy nature is a big benefit.
  •  Callistemon (Bottlebrush): Drought-resistant with distinctive bottlebrush-like flowers.
  •  Lavender: Fragrant and hardy, adding a touch of elegance to temperate gardens. For a classic cottage style garden, lavender is a popular choice.
  • Dwarf Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon japonicus): Low-growing and adaptable for temperate climates.

Cool and Southern Regions

  • Camellia: Evergreen with elegant blooms, thriving in cooler climates.
  • Daphne: Fragrant and compact, adding charm to cooler garden areas.
  • Hebe: Versatile shrubs with a variety of foliage and flower options.
  • Pittosporum: To create a hedge and low shrub this plant is hardy and adaptable, providing year-round greenery in cooler regions.

Always consider local variations within these broader climate zones, soil conditions, and specific microclimates in your garden when selecting plants for the best results. Some of the more tropical plants can work in colder regions if your micro climate suits their needs.

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What are the Worst Plants for around a Pool?

There are various factors which need to be taken in to consideration when deciding on the worst plants for around a pool. 

Root systems


This is the number one factor to think about as vigorous roots will crack coping tiles for retaining walls around a pool which is a very costly issue.
Avoid bamboo, rubber trees, or umbrella trees as their root systems are likely to pose problems for your pool sooner or later. Golden cane palms are a popular choice around pools but its important to note that this type of palm has very fibrous roots that spread rapidly. These palms are very difficult and costly to remove when they are established. 


Staining

Some leaves or fruit can stain the bottom of your pool or tiles which is not an easy fix.
A Mulberrry tree should not be planted in the pool area, the fruit will stain anything it touches.


Leaf Shedding


The last thing you want is to have to fish out leaves and flowers from your pool every weekend. Trees that drop their leaves are a big no no for around a pool area.
Azaleas can be a popular choice for around a pool area but the flowers drop and this can clog the skimmer box and also lead to a lot of time skimming the water and less time swimming!
Crape Myrtles are beautiful trees but they have small flowers that drop and will clog the skimmer box.

What are the Best Trees to Plant around a Pool?

While having a dense foliage provides excellent shade, it also serves as a valuable privacy screen from neighbours. Trees are a fantastic solution to enhance the privacy of your pool area!


Ficus microcarpa hillii 'Flash'

A small fast growing tree that is low maintenance it can be used for shade or trimmed to create a hedge


Kentia Palm (Howea forsteriana)

A low maintenance palm that can create shade and a tropical feel.


Citrus

Having a fruit tree around the pool adds a pop of colour and provides the perfect accompaniment to a cold water on a hot sunny day!

Slide6-4
Best Screening Plants for around a Pool


Viburnum Suspense


This hedge variety, boasting a lush and deep green hue, serves as an ideal border for your pool. Flourishing with minimal maintenance, it offers a hassle-free screening solution.


Syzygium australe 'Hinterland Gold'


This is a native shrub with freen glossy leaves that can create the perfect hedge.


Camellias

Cameliias are a great choice for their low-maintenance and evergreen qualities, they offer an added advantage by blooming from autumn to winter. This feature ensures visual interest even during periods when the pool isn’t being used, which is an important consideration as you want to enjoy looking at the pool from your house/garden. 


Avoid


Bamboo is tempting as it is fast growing and provides an effective screen but don’t be tempted. The root system can cause no end of troubles around a pool area.
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Potted Plant Ideas for around a Pool


For ultimate control, planting in pots is a fantastic idea. There are a lot of plants that grow well in a container and planting in this way widens your choice of plants as you can contain the roots. 

Birds of Paradise grow well in a pot and you won’t need to worry about the roots or the plant spreading too quickly. 
Golden Cane Palms create a lovely tropical feel and are best suited to pots due to their root ball structure.
Agaves are the ultimate low maintenance plant thrive in a pot and add a pop of green to a pool area.
Ornamental dwarf citrus trees for an eye-catching feature in a hot and sunny pool enclosure.

Design tips for Planting around a Pool

Strategically deciding where to position plants around a pool holds utmost importance. Consider the potential height of the plants, ensuring they are placed in the right positions to avoid future issues. Creating a layered arrangement contributes to a tropical ambiance, adding a vibrant touch to your pool area. Place the tallest trees and shrubs towards the rear, not only providing privacy but also forming a lush canopy for other plants. For the front, consider using grasses, ferns, and succulents. If your pool area features a retaining wall, opt for plants that cascade over it; Dichondra Silver Falls is an excellent choice for softening the landscape.

Conclusion

Landscaping around a pool requires careful planning. It involves a thoughtful consideration of plant selection, placement, and maintenance, all of which contribute to the overall atmosphere and functionality of the pool area. By choosing the right plants, understanding their growth patterns, and strategically positioning them, you not only enhance the visual appeal but also create a harmonious and inviting outdoor space. Whether it's about providing shade, ensuring privacy, or adding a pop of colour, the landscaping decisions made around a pool significantly impact the overall experience. 

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