Landscaping plants around pool

hv4xpy4August 13, 2009

We just had a pool put in and are getting some bids from landscapers to finish out the backyard.

I don't really know squat about plants so thought I would post some of the various plants we are getting recommended to use just to see if there are any that stick out as really bad or really good choices.

We want a low maintenance landscape that will not drop bunch of junk in the pool. We have a sprinkler system so can water/not water various zones as needed.

Here is a list compiled from multiple designs we are considering:


Blue Italian Cypress

Japanese Yew






Nandina Compacta




Anthony Waterer Spirea

Knockout Roses

Giant Liriope

So, fire away - which plants are the good ones and what is the junk that I would regret ever got put in soil?

Here is a link that might be useful: DFW Build

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Your kidding right? If this was my landscape designer I would fire him/her but then again this is definitely not to my taste. All this may look nice the first year but within 3 years and onward, you will have what I call 10lbs of rabbits stuffed in a 5lb hutch.

Here is your list with my comments.

Blue Italian Cypress: mature height 20-30', subject to bag worm infestation, doesn't like our humidity. When they're healthy they are beautiful, there is just not too many healthy ones around.

Japanese Yew: Mature height 50' in 20 years or less.

Chitalpa: Attracts butterflies and BEES. Bee and swimmers usually do not coexist calmly.


Yaupon: Really a small tree. Great native, relatively fast growing once established, good winter color if female. Mature height 20' with same spread. Limbing up displays beautiful trunk. Use variety 'Pride of Houston'

Yucca: Many types. Some are sharp enough to pierce the human body.

Magnolia: Little Gem is beautiful. Usually looks ugly for first few years but when it takes off, it is gorgeous. Wonderful fragrance.

Nandina Compacta: Usually turns into ugly little yellow cholorotic basketballs of leaves.

Loropatalem: could not find on internet

Cleyera: Wonderful shrub but highly susceptible to mildew

Juniper: Can you say Bag Worms. They love this stuff.

Anthony Waterer Spirea: Good choice

Knockout Roses: Good choice as long as it is removed from high traffic area. Doesn't attract bees but getting thrown into or falling into it will be painful with the thorns.

Giant Liriope: Boring big blue green mounds of grass with insignificant flowers in the summer.

Here are some suggestions for a tropical look:

Needle palm away from traffic areas. Texas sago palm, Hardy hibiscus particularly Blue River II if you like all white, Crinum Elizabeth Traub, Bearded Iris, Bananas (with mulch protection many varieties are corm winter hardy) Mock Oranage, Spider lilies, Daylilies.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 4:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

And while I was on plants I forgot the most important. Your landscape zones for the pool should be converted to drip tube irrigation. You'll save 60% or more on the water for this area.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 5:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
debndal(8a DFW, TX)

I don't think I'd put any large trees near the pool - lots of litter to fall, and I think you might have to worry about roots. I agree with fairview about the Yaupon, Pride of Houston, but it will drop lots of berries in late winter and birds love to sit in them, so I wouldn't want it hanging over the pool or sitting areas. Cleyera - try cultivar Jade Tiara - I've had for about 8 years and no mildew on them so far. Nandina - try Harbor Belle instead. Lorapetalum - I love this shrub - great color, flowers in early early spring - lots of cultivars and sizes, so choose carefully. For low growing groundcovery type juniper, try Blue Pacific - pretty soft to the touch. Purple fountain grass would be pretty to help with a tropical look. Gingers too.
With a pool, the lower the growers the less litter you're likely to get in the pool.
BTW - your pool looks great.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 5:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

good stuff. thanks for the input. I forgot to mention that one of our design criteria is that we don't want palms. We are not big fans of the "tropics" look. So are wanting to do more of a "normal landscape" style.

Also i should have been more clear that not all of these plants were in each plan. We are trying to pick between 2-3 different landscapers and some of them had similar plants and some had different.

For example, the plan we are considering most at this point is a combo of the Cypress, Yaupon, Spirea, Cleyera, nandina, KO roses, and Liriope

The other landscapers design is using the Chitalpa, Yucca, Juniper, Roses (type not specified), Magnolia, and Liriope. This landscpaer/design was far more expensive.

The more I learn the less certain I am as to what is best. Wouldn't be a big deal except that plants, grass and dirt are far more expensive than I had originally imagined...

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 6:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I question the imagination of any landscape designer that resorts to Lirope unless specifically requested by the customer. Substitute Day Lilies for a nearly identical look and get the plus of a riot of color that monkey grass will never provide.

To cut costs, pay for the plan (that's only fair business), have the landscaper install major plants that are big and heavy and you do the rest. It's not rocket science but it will take longer. You can plant a 1-3-5 or even a 10 gallon shrub as easy and a lot cheaper than they will and you can spread the cost out over this year and next.

I love Lorapetalum. Monrovia puts one out trained as a container tree. Beautiful!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 6:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
prairiepaintbrush(RedOak, TX z7/8)

My first thoughts:

Japanese Yew needs shade
Chitalpa drops lots of stuff and gets worms as well as long pods
Magnolia drops big leaves all the time, although they would be easy to fish out, and flowers and pods when they bloom

It sounds like you're doing a great job of researching your new landscaping, so kudos to you!

You might consider decorative grasses to include. They have a different shape and height than most plants and tend to be trash free, relatively.

You might consider paying to have the beds thoroughly amended and then take your time about planting the things you want for yourself. Digging out old soil and sod and putting in good compost is the most labor intensive and can be costly. Just an idea.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 9:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
debndal(8a DFW, TX)

I tend to agree with your choice - except for maybe the Italian Cypress. This is my personal feeling but unless you have something else thats fairly tall, I think they kind of stick out (up) like a sore thumb. I've seen a couple that a neighbor down the street has on either side of his front door of a 2 story house, and they look good. The front of his house is "made" for them so to speak. Try to think of the ultimate height and how that's going to look with it's suroundings. I think a substitution of the Little Gem Magnolias would look great with your other selections. I'll make a comment on liriope vs daylilies. I love the look of the shorter bushier daylilies like Stella. But they drop their flowers every day they are blooming, they die back in winter, they often have to be groomed of dead foliage in summer, and they do get aphids. They also require a good bit of sun to bloom well. Maybe try to work in a small planting because the blooms are really pretty. Liriope would do better in shadier areas. In sun, especially if they are near concrete, the tips will tend to yellow or bleach out. They bloom later in summer and the blooms are small so they are cleaner and less maintenance, and they are evergreen, although in winter they might get a little droopy looking.
I'd try to work in the lorapetalum specifically for the leaf color, since most of what is in that plan is green. It's prettiest color comes in winter sun, and the late winter/early spring blooms are gorgeous, but won't put alot of litter in the pool as they don't tend to blow around. The cleyera (I do highly recommend you get the Jade Tiara)will give you some reddish new leaves too, but they will turn green as the season progresses, and they like shade, but can handle some sun too.
I did what fairview suggested. I paid for my plan, had them prepare the beds (add organic matter and till) plant the large items I didn't want to dig holes for, and then I acquired the rest as the year progressed. If you buy small plants (1-3 gal) and don't plant too close (fewer plants that way)you'll spend less money.. Landscapers tend to overplant to try to get a big impact right away, but with good soil and proper care your selections will grow pretty fast. Looks like you will have a beautiful back yard.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 9:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would use tall evergreens to cover the fence. Have you considered variegated eleagnus? They grow 2-3 feet/yr and are pretty cheap. They can be trained to grow as small trees and their roots are not strong enough to damage your pool. You could create a colorful evergreen background with them (5'or more apart)and plant, let's say, Hesperaloe parviflora and knockout roses between them. In that way you would have something that will look great all year long, minimal waste, very colorful and very affordable!


    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 10:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just looked at your pool pictures again. I wish you the best luck but I think within a couple of years you will be unhappy with what the landscapers want to do. You simply do not have the room for large plants. Yes, what will be installed the first year will look nice, but within three years, the pool will be overpowered and you will have a 'jungle look' around your pool. Plants will grow into each other and it will look like a jumbled mess. After a couple of years you will most likely have an overwhelming urge to attack you landscape with a machete. Anything with a MATURE height in excess of 20' should not be considered. I would go for under 15'. You simply just don't have the room. I have an extrememly large pool (65,000 gal)with extremely large landscape areas. I personally landscaped it and this year I am out there with a shovel and pick axe hogging things out of the ground becuase it looks like an overgrown jungle. For balance, there needs to be space between plants when they get bigger not when they are first planted.

No matter what you choose to have installed, I strongly suggest that you sit down with a scaled plan, your lap top and a simple compass for drawing circles. Look up each plant and find the mature height and add 10%. Anything I've ever planted always seems to be bigger than the stated height. Then take the compass and draw a scaled circle around each plant representing the mature size. You will see for yourself what I am getting at. Landscapers are not concerned with what you place willl look like in 3,5 or 10 years. They are interested in a happy customer on the last day of install and a check in their pocket. That's it!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 9:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
prairiepaintbrush(RedOak, TX z7/8)

a good substitute for the Italian Cypress should be Will Fleming Yaupon. It's a yaupon with a columar growth, and has the advantage of being a native. I believe it is vegetatively produced and is a male, so no berries.

Here is a link that might be useful: Will Fleming Yaupon

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 9:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

fairview, I definitely hear you. I have started taking a red pen to the plan from the landscaper we are leaning toward. It will have double benefit of looking better long term, and saving me money now.

prairie, thx so much for that suggestion. That would be a good substitute. The cypress was not something we specifically asked for, but we need something with narrow height to go between the pool and the fence. And our pool has a bit of a mediterranian look, so the cypress was a nice complement. But the will fleming yaupon idea makes more sense.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 11:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Donna Gjelaj_Camaj

knockout rose= tons of japanese beetles if you're willing to deal with that..

some of your non-decidous and low-lying shrubs are less of a headache.

we cut down a mess of a tree hanging over part of our pool area and now are working on focal point/pool enhancing landscaping..I'm working with the same theme as around the rest of our lawn (front)..
barberries/junipers/maples/conifer shrubs..and will try to work in a few hydrangea plants (I think?)

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 10:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mikeandbarb(z8 D/FW)

Beautiful pool. I can't stress to you enough on staying away from trees and plants that shed. We have Trees and red tips that shed. Spring time it's flowers from the red tip, as well as leaves from them. In the fall it leaves from the trees. You would be cleaning the pool daily to keep up with it and then by Nov. if the leaves haven't all fallen off you'd be out there in the cold if we have a cold year.
I've lived here for 10 years and if it was up to me I'd fill our pool in, we're just not into the pool like we were a few year ago. But an indoor pool would be more my style :)
Anyway don't hurry it's wise to take your time and be happy with the out come.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 12:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Gardener972(7b-8a DFW)

I'd fire your landscaper too. What were they thinking?!
I didn't see Windmill Palm mentioned. This winter did not even touch our windmill nor our neighbor's. I would also agree on the Needle Palm. Both will take very low temps, and the needle taking temps well below zero.

Roses are a good idea. Loropatalem is an excellent idea. I agree with Fairview but Mock Orange I've not had luck with. I would put in several bananas for that tropical look.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 9:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I love the mediterranian look for a pool... italian cypress, palms, etc. I think you'd be very unhappy with a chitalpa near the pool - they are very messy. dropping blooms, BIG leaves, and BIG seed pods.

I have a pool and had to remove a beautiful live oak that the previous owner planted WAY to close to the pool. too much shade, too many leaves and pollen 'flowers'
I replaced it with a pindo palm.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 3:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Donna Gjelaj_Camaj

Does anyone think a smokebush (the shrub form, not a tree) would be ideal for the backdrop of an inground pool (around 6-8 ft back from pool)? The more I read up on them, I regret not adding it into my overall landscaping? Is it too messy for around the pool?

Any info would be appreciated, thanks.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 12:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There are many in ground pool cleaners available in the market. One of the trusted brands is Baracuda pool cleaner. It has several types of cleaning units that can help in cleaning different types of swimming pool. All you need to do is search for the right kind of unit and then purchase it.

Here is a link that might be useful: in ground pool cleaners

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 2:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I live in Arizona close to Phoenix, and I too am looking for trees that are compatible (meaning not very messy) with landscape near a patio and a built in pool... Someone mentioned a tree that did not like Texas humidity, I wonder if that tree would be good here in Arizona, since we have almost zero humidity... I think she called it a Japanese something or other... I would appreciate any feedback. Thanks I am a new member...

Jolie in Arizona

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 7:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ExoticRGVNativesTy(10a TX)

Most of Japan has a very humid, rainy climate so I don't see how a tree from there would prefer lower humidity, less rainfall, and higher temperatures.

I'm a strong advocate of native plants, but most native desert trees have very small leaves to minimize water loss. Those leaves could fall into the pool and clog the filter (we had this problem with our pool). Tree-sized succulents such as a Joshua Tree would work, but these are usually sharp and/or spiny and need to be placed carefully. I would recommend Hop Bush (Dodonaea viscosa) or Esperanza (Tecoma stans), both of which are small, evergreen trees without spines.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 1:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Brad Edwards

I hate nocking people and while I like the look of the non traditional pool there is a reason people choose low dropping leaves or larger leaves.

Your list is horrible, nearly everything on there sheds so your looking for low maintance, good luck with that.

LG magnolia is a pretty good choice, loropetalum look great but drop their small blooms and shed depending on variety, Knock out roses are nice but self deadhead, wouldn't put them close to the pool or a breeze would have your pool littered, I am totally with fairview. Its not only about taste its about how much work your going to be doing down the road.

If you like the look of traditional check out japanese pools and some of the Japanese maples that drop all their leaves at the same time of the year "making cleanup easier". Jolie, just look around at what is working in the area and talk to a good garden center. Palms seem to do well in many parts of AZ, near phoenix and personally I would go with a purple bougainvillaea or three.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 10:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Put in a couple different varieties of clumping bamboo.

They have no pests and shed their leaves once a year.

Very tropical looking and easily maintained.


    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 10:18PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
What is this plant?
Need help identifying this plant. It is growing in...
Any hummers yet? I'm 30 miles north of San Antonio....
'Miss Kim' - A Lilac for South Texas
Lilac "Miss Kim" is a dependable bloomer...
info about gardening in Dallas?
My daughter just bought a house and has asked for help...
Need ballpark figure for irrigation
We recently put in a pool. Pool, landscaper, irrigation...
Sponsored Products
Flax Pendant - Natural - David Trubridge
$1,140.00 | HORNE
Landscape Blue and White Urn Porcelain Table Lamp
Lamps Plus
nuLOOM Handmade Alexa Eco Natural Fiber Cotton Border Jute Rug (9' x 12')
Slamp | Cactus Small Table Lamp
$275.00 | YLighting
LMS Indoor Mini LED Step Light Louver Optic
Lafayette Lantern Path Light by Kichler
$198.00 | Lumens
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™