Planting for Pools

There are a number of things to consider when planting around pools. To ensure that whatever plants get selected thrive, a couple of simple things can be done to help them.

Fiona Brockhoff - Mornington Peninsula

Fiona Brockhoff - Mornington Peninsula

  • Make sure that the garden beds close to the pool have protection from pool water running into them. This may mean the bed is raised, or has a low wall or edging in front of it to prevent pool water running into the bed constantly.
  • Installing drainage into the garden bed will also help to prevent pool water collecting in the soil, water logging the garden and poisoning the plants with chlorine or a build-up of salt.
  • Installing and using irrigation regularly will help to flush salts and chlorine out of the soil, and in the case of sprays, wash any chemical and salt off foliage. It will also help plants survive what can be a hot position, with lots of reflected heat from paving and sun bouncing off the water.
Kate Seddon, Elwood Garden

Kate Seddon, Elwood Garden

When selecting plants, make sure you choose plants that will suit the type of use you expect the pool to get. If you have a load of kids around every day during summer, you need to select plants that are going to withstand the odd pool toy, loads of splashing, and the accidental trample. You would also want to select plants that aren’t prickly or sharp, that won’t attract bees and that won’t cause skin irritations or rashes. If the use of the pool is going to be a little more sedate, then it will open up some more options.

Other considerations are the amount of mess they will make. Ideally avoid plants that have small leaves, lots of small flowers (especially ‘fluffy’ ones), fruit and those that are deciduous. You’ll be forever fishing debris out, or unclogging filters. Consider selecting plants that are going to be appropriate for the level of maintenance you’re willing to carry out. A hedge in a narrow bed along a pool can look fabulous, but consider how you’re going to trim it! Avoid planting species with invasive or large root systems nearby, as these can damage the pool shell, causing the pool to crack or leak. If you’re thinking of positioning a tree near the pool creating some much wanted shade in summer, choose a tree that has larger leaves that are easy to fish out and flowers that won’t clog the pool filter.

Richard Bellemo, Templestowe Garden

Richard Bellemo, Templestowe Garden

You will also need to select plants that can withstand splashing with chlorine or salt, as well as tolerate a build-up of chemicals in the soil. A good rule of thumb for choosing tolerant plants, is selecting those with a waxy coating to the leaf. These will generally be more tolerant of chlorine splash than softer foliage. Plants that are tolerant of salt tend to have either a waxy coating to the leaf or be hairy or silver in colour. As mentioned above, regular watering will also help minimise damage by removing splash and flush the soil of unwanted chemicals.

Once all of that is taken into account, you just need to select the plants that will suit your landscape style!

Below is a list of plants that should be tolerant of planting near pools.

Please note: This list is not exhaustive, and is merely a suggestion of plants that are likely to be suitable. It is recommended that further research into what will suit the site’s growing conditions and personal requirements is carried out. There may be some trial and error involved in finding the plants that do best for your particular situation.



  • Choisya ternata
  • Coprosma repens cultivars
  • Correa alba
  • Iresine herbstii
  • Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
  • Hydrangea macrophylla
  • Rosmarinus offinalis cultivars
  • Pittosporum tobira cultivars
  • Plectranthus argentatus
  • Rhaphiolepis species
  • Nandina domestic cultivars
  • Ilex crenata ‘Fastigiata’
  • Gardenia florida
  • Fatsia japonica
  • Escallonia species
  • Euonymus japonicus cultivars
  • Magnolia ‘White Caviar’
  • Metrosideros species
  • Teucrium fruticans
  • Westringia fruticosa cultivars
  • Olea ‘Mediterranean Midget’*
  • Alyxia buxifolia

Hedging & Screening Plants

  • Nerium oleander
  • Escallonia iveyii
  • Murraya paniculata*
  • Magnolia ‘Little Gem’
  • Laurus nobilis
  • Elaeocarpus reticulatus
  • Elaeagnus x ebbingei
  • Ficus ‘Figaro’
  • Olea ‘Tolley’s Upright’ & ‘Swan Hill’*
  • Ficus microcarpa var. hillii (if trimmed)
  • Ilex ‘Blue Prince’
  • Hibiscus arnottianus ‘Wilder White’
  • Bambusa textilis ‘Gracilis’

Trees & Palms

  • Acer ‘Keithsform’ Norwegian Sunset
  • Magnolia grandiflora cultivars
  • Banksia integrifolia
  • Banksia marginata
  • Olea ‘Tolley’s Upright’ & ‘Swan Hill’*
  • Prunus ‘Purple Jewel’
  • Tristaniopsis ‘DOW10’ Luscious
  • Acer x freemanii ‘Jeffersred’
  • Acer platanoides ‘Crimson Sentry’
  • Agonis flexuosa ‘Burgundy’
  • Acer platanoides ‘Globosum’
  • Fraxinus angustifolia ‘Raywood’
  • Fraxinus ‘Urbdell’ Urbanite
  • Ginkgo biloba - male
  • Trachycarpus fortunei
  • Chamaerops humilis
  • Phoenix canariensis
  • Phoenix roebelenii
  • Butia capitata

Grasses & Strappy Plants

  • Liriope species
  • Miscanthus species*
  • Agapanthus species*
  • Hemerocallis species
  • Dianella species
  • Lomandra species
  • Kniphofia species
  • Tulbaghia violacea
  • Ficinia nodosa
  • Phormium species
  • Ophiopogon jabarun
  • Mondo grass
  • Dietes sp.
  • Beschorneria yuccoides
  • Cordyline stricta
  • Juncus sp.


  • Carpobrotus species
  • Coprosma repens ‘Kirkii’
  • Hibbertia scandens
  • Scaevola aemula
  • Myoporum parvifolium
  • Arctotis x hybrida
  • Osteospermum x hybrida
  • Trachelospermum jasminoides
  • Trachelospermum asiaticum
  • Dichondra argentea ‘Silver Falls’
  • Tradescantia pallida
  • Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Prostratus’
  • Aptenia cordifolia
  • Mesembryanthemum species
  • Convolvulus sabatius
  • Sedum species
  • Senecio serpens
  • Vinca minor
  • Bergenia cordifolia
  • Goodenia species
  • Stachys species
  • Gazania species*

Perennial & Succulent Plants

  • Helleborus argutifolius
  • Canna species
  • Agave attenuata
  • Aloe species
  • Kalanchoe thyrsifolius
  • Cassula ovata
  • Euphorbia species*
  • Limonium perezii
  • Furcraea beddinghausii
  • Agave species
  • Streltizia reginae
  • Strelitzia nicholai

Trees should be planted at least 2 m away, preferably in wide beds at least 1.2m in width, with a root barrier to prevent damage to the pool shell.

Meirav Dulberg