All landscaping is not created equal, and pool landscaping falls into two categories. It depends on if your pool is chlorinated or if it’s filled with salt water.
Home horticulturist and Tarrant County Extension Agent Steve Chaney says, “The reason that’s important is chlorine is not as damaging to plants compared to saltwater.”
Small amounts of chlorine are generally not harmful to grass and plants, but some greenery tolerates it better than others in Fort Worth landscapes. When considering shrubs, look for those that do well in full sun and can withstand the subtropical climate here in Fort Worth (hot, humid summers, and cold to mild winters).
Highly chlorine-tolerant plants include:
- Century plant.
- Indian hawthorn.
You can also plant shrubs in the pool area, or plant them in pots to display around the pool.
Succulents are a good choice for pool decor. They’re low maintenance and don’t need a lot of water. The different shapes, textures, and colors of these plants make for interesting landscaping. They blend well with other plants and are great at filling in the bare spots.
Try aloe, as it doesn’t shed foliage (an important consideration, to keep leaves out of the pool). Agave is another excellent choice for its bold, strong look. But stay away from cactus! Sharp spines and bare skin don’t mix,
Add color and fragrance to your pool landscaping with flowering plants. Chaney says, “You need some basic evergreens such as dwarf yaupon and dwarf nandinas that will give you color all year round.”
Other bright, bold pool flowers include birds of paradise, hydrangeas, and hibiscus. Keep in mind these flowers aren’t native to Texas and will take some work. You may need to provide them with shade in the afternoon.
Ornamental grasses bring height and movement to your pool landscape. Those that thrive in sun or partial sun are ideal. Mexican feathergrass has a feathery, ethereal look to it for a romantic feel. Dwarf pampas grass bursts out in white blooms in the summer. It’s high heat tolerance, and low need for water make it perfect for North Texas pools. We equate palm trees more with Southern California than Fort Worth, but they can and do grow here. Texas palmettos and dwarf palmettos, in particular. These slow-growing trees are robust with a unique look, sure to be conversation pieces. Banana trees are another great choice for this area. Their large leaves provide shade and a good focal point. But we’ll warn you: banana trees need a lot of water.
Some homeowners use saltwater in their pools, as it’s easier on your skin and eyes. But, not all plants do well when exposed to it. When the water mixes with the soil (when draining, for example), the salt stops plants from properly absorbing the water. This dehydrates the greenery. But you have landscaping options if you have a saltwater pool. Source
Foliage and flowers are the best choices to use near saltwater. Texas lantana is hardy and resistant to just about everything; drought, heat, and salt. Its bright orange and yellow flowers create an attractive backdrop for your pool area. The low growing plant, portulaca, works great, as well.
Also known as the sun rose for its vibrant pink flowers, portulaca is heat and drought-tolerant and rarely needs watering.
When it comes to shrubs, go for winterberry holly. It doesn’t shed much, so leaves won’t end up in the pool. Also, check out oleander. This shrub, or small tree, is common in Fort Worth. But it is poisonous, so you may want to stay away from it if you have pets. Oleander tolerates intense heat, poor soil, and salt spray. It grows wild in Texas and is often used in landscaping for the beauty of its flowers.
All of these landscaping techniques work with most pools, even the above-ground variety. If that’s what you have, consider the height of the pool and whether it’s surrounded by a deck when you plan your landscape. Concrete decks around in-ground pools and safety fences should also be taken into consideration. If you’re still confused and need direction, call a professional to help you out.
We’re lucky to live in Fort Worth when it comes to pool landscaping. The heat can be overwhelming but it allows us to create a tropical paradise around our clean, inviting water when it’s time to cool off!
Steve A. Chaney holds a Master’s degree in agricultural and extension education services. He specializes in plant Identification, landscaping, and environmental awareness.