Selecting plants for the pool area is a key part of the pool's overall design. Add plants that can make the pool more attractive and inviting. Choose plants that will survive the micro-climate created by the pool, which affects its immediate surroundings. The plants you choose should ideally help the pool blend naturally with its environment.
Succulents are drought-tolerant plants; therefore, they require little water. Plant succulents in areas near your pool that does not have an irrigation system. Succulents will help you save money on installing an irrigation and water bill. Succulents can also withstand other harsh conditions, such as occasional pool water splashes that contain chlorine. Aloe, agave, yucca, haworthia, lithops and sempervivum are a few examples of succulents that you can plant near your pool.
Cacti, considered succulents, will also survive near your pool. Make sure to plant cacti away from the paths people take, to prevent accidental pricking.
Palm trees can be attractive additions to your pool landscaping. They can provide shade and they do not shed small leaves and seeds. Plant palms in the ground or put them in pots so that you can easily move them around. Queen palm, windmill palm, pindo palm, Mexican blue palm and Mediterranean fan palm are some of the cold-hardy palms that you can plant by your pool. Avoid planting date palms and Mexican fan palms too close to the pool; they grow too big and produce large, messy flower spikes. Pruning the flower spikes off prior to blooming (usually in June) will reduce falling debris.
Add ferns to the shady parts of your pool landscaping. Ferns fairly grow easily in moist, shady and undisturbed spots. Fern are good accompaniments to your tall trees and shrubs. Broad-beech ferns, sword ferns and stag-horn ferns are common examples of ferns that will survive next to a swimming pool.
Ornamental grasses can be a focal point for your pool landscapes. Plant them in clumps in huge pots to prevent them from over-spreading. Well-placed ornamental grasses such as horsetails, ornamental blue fescues and Japanese blood grass can soften the architectural lines of the pool. Create a raised bed of perennial flowers mixed with ornamental grasses next to your pool to add texture and splashes of color.
A swimming pool can create a microclimate to its immediate surroundings. Often, the areas around pools have higher humidity than the areas further away from the pools. Tropical plants love humidity; therefore, they are ideal for swimming pool landscapes. Birds of Paradise, canna lilies, red Ti, elephant's ears and some species of bromeliads will do well next to swimming pools.
Consider your local growing conditions when planting tropical plants. It’s very difficult to create an outdoor tropical garden if you live in the cold central areas of the United States or in a mountainous area that sees long cold winters. Likewise, hot and dry areas present their own problems. Test with one type of tropical plant per season to determine if it will survive in your garden, then add more later on if it survives.