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If you’re looking to quickly landscape around an inground pool on a budget, you have come to the right place. Here is a step-by-step guide filled with useful tips that will help you start and finish your inground pool landscaping project in 2 days or less.
1. The Goal
My friend David, owner and lead designer of Revolutionary Gardens, says…
The goals for landscaping are going to be different for everyone. I have yet to work with a pool owner who didn’t want an attractive, low-maintenance planting design that offers privacy and didn’t drop debris in the pool.
Sounds like a good goal, right? You want your landscaping project to be…
- Be low maintenance
- Provide privacy
- Minimize the amount of debris in your pool
2. The Design
Get out a blank sheet of paper (or graph paper) and draw — to the best of your ability — the outline of your pool and the concrete or stone around it. Also, make sure to draw the perimeter of your yard. I recommend using a ruler or graph paper to get the best results. And use a pencil because I guarantee you will be making a lot of changes to your design.
If there is anything that’s already included in your current landscape that you’d like to use, be sure to add it in your drawing.
Pick a theme for your landscape. I recommend checking out some inspirational pool landscaping photos. I’ve included a few below for you to check out:
- Pool Landscaping on Pinterest
- Pool Landscaping Ideas on Houzz
- Photo Gallery of Pool Landscaping on Southern Living
Remember that landscaping isn’t just about grass and plants. Incorporate some lighting elements in your design as well.
For more information about designing, I recommend you check out this article: Do it Yourself Pool Landscape Design.
Need Graph Paper?
If you’re serious about designing the landscape of your inground pool, pick up some graph paper to help you get started.
Here are some things to keep in mind while designing your landscape:
- Use more stone, including using brick as edging to break up the flow from your concrete decking.
- Keep it spacious. Don’t crowd your pool area with plants and lights. Remember, the focal point is the pool.
- Use potted plants close to the pool and keep bedding (mulch) further away.
3. The Plants, Soil & Mulch
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“I typically look for a screened topsoil blend that has some compost mixed in,” says David. “Screened means it’s passed through a giant sieve, eliminating large clumps, rocks, and undesirable debris from the soil. Good topsoil is a joy to work with.”
For the best and cheapest soil, you want to mix new topsoil with your existing soil.Buy Now On Amazon
Look for organic mulch made of shredded bark, pine needles or a local product. Avoid alternatives like tumbled glass or recycled tires — they won’t break down and add nutrients to the soil.Buy Now On Amazon
When it comes to choosing the right plants, it’s best to know what works best and what to avoid. As far as what to avoid, David says:
I tend to avoid anything with a lot of thorns (barberry, pyracantha, hawthorne) or sharp/spiky foliage (hollies, junipers). Certain trees, like magnolias, can be very messy and will drop leaves and litter all season long, making it more difficult to keep water clean. I also keep my summer-flowering plants a little farther away from the pool to discourage bees from bothering the swimmers.
Try using these plants around your pool:
- Evergreen Trees
- Ivy (for ground cover)
- Ornamental Grasses
- Long Blooming Flowers
I recommend you check out this article from PoolProducts.com, where they talk about choosing the right plants for the area you live in.
4. The Tools
As with any landscape project, it’s only as complicated as you want to make it. A wheelbarrow, a pick, a shovel, and a steel rake will serve you well for most home landscape projects. And a broom or blower for cleanup, too.
To save money, borrow tools from your neighbors and friends before going out and purchasing your own. Just don’t forget to return them.
Additional useful tools, include:
- Buckets for Mixing Topsoil
- Hedge Sheers and Trimmers
- Garden Hoe for Weeding
- Garden Hose
- Gardening Gloves
5. Preparing the Area
Start by cleaning the area around your pool. Check for any rocks in the soil and remove them.
Remove all plant pots, debris, trash, metal and your garden hose. Make sure you area is clean and ready to be worked in.
Soak the ground the night before so it will make it easy to remove any weeds. The weeds will come up with soft ground.
Start Weeding First
Use the tip of your garden hoe to remove any weeds in your soil. As you tackle the weed, you want to pull out the entire root system. Be sure to remove all the weeds from your area before adding new plants. Remove any additional root systems you find in the soil.
Preparing the Plants
If you bought new plants, remove them from their pots, massage the root system to loosen them up and soak them in a bucket with water for about 30 minutes without submerging the entire plant — just the base.
Take this time to also remove any dead leaves off the plants.
6. Get to Work!
It’s time to start planting! Keep plants spaced out to allow for the root system to spread. Don’t plant to close to any walls or near your pool because this can affect the pH of the soil.
Add clay pots in various sizes around the pool. Mix together existing soil and good topsoil. When you dig the hole for the plant, dig the hole deep enough for the plant plus an extra inch deeper and around the plant to allow the root system to take off. Use potted plants close to the pool.
Gifts & Decor Jewel Tone Flower Pot Trio Embossed Earthenware Planter
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If you’re looking to add a little color to your plants, check out this assortment of planters.
Potted plant tips:
- Water potted plants more frequently then the rest of your plants. They tend to dry out faster in the pots.
- For a bigger area, put multiple potted plants together.
- Use potted plants as a means of transition. For example, place them at the end of a bench wall, on both sides of a door or gate, or beside pool patio furniture to help bring the pool layout together.
You can find out more information about using potted plants and landscaping around your pool from this article: Inground Pool Landscaping 101.
If you are using solar lights around your pool, make sure they get direct sunlight. Before adding the light to the soil, loosen it up with a small shovel and gently insert the light into the soft soil. Most solar lights have plastic stems so you don’t want them to break when adding them.
Solar-Powered Garden Lights
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Solar lights are an easy way to add some light around your inground pool without running any underground wiring.
If you use tiki torches (which are very inexpensive), don’t fill up the torches all the way with fluid, just add enough to soak the bottom of the wick. Keep an eye on your fluid levels before you light them to make sure you have enough fluid for the night.
If you’re looking for a more tropical feel, using tiki torches can be an inexpensive way to achieve your desired look and feel.
Got a Hot Tub Too?
If you’re looking to do some more landscaping around your hot tub, we got you covered too!
Hot Tub Landscaping for the Beginner on a Budget
I would like to share what I learned and help you with your hot tub landscaping — whether you’re a newbie, on a budget, or both!
How to Landscape Your Inground Pool Infographic
You can view our entire infographic about landscaping your inground pool, which is based off this article: View the infographic.
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Last Updated: Tuesday, June 18th, 2013