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Best & Worst Trees to Plant around a Pool

Landscaping around a swimming pool can really make your pool pop; but plants and trees need to be chosen carefully. Trees with lots of ‘leaf litter’, excessive pollen, berries or budding debris can cause extra work for you and your pool filter. Trees with extensive root systems can damage pool walls or pool plumbing. And cute little trees that grow into large monsters can block the sun’s warmth, or block the sight and sounds of the pool, which can be unsafe. Many pool guys will say “the best trees for a pool… is no trees at all”. But that’s not always realistic, or desirable in most cases.

Best Trees to Plant Around a Pool First, consider those things which may limit your pool tree selection. Climate: Pools located in more temperate hardiness zones (southern states) have a wider variety of trees that can flourish around the pool. Northern pools can still use many tropicals if planted in large pots, or cut back during fall and mulched over. Shade: If you are specifically looking for shade around the pool, or in a certain area, that can guide your tree choice. Or as an option to trees, consider a cabana or pergola with wisteria or vines.

Privacy: Are you trying to block out neighbor’s prying eyes, noise or a less than perfect view? Fast growing evergreens may be a good choice for one or two sides of the pool. Beauty: Adding beauty around the pool is an obvious reason for enhancing your pool landscaping. Flowering trees, fruit trees and deciduous trees (those that shed leaves during fall) may be pretty, but can be messy. The best trees to plant around a pool include: Acacia, Banana, Citrus, Evergreens (arbor vitae, cypress, spruce), Holly and Magnolia (also evergreen), Olive trees (non fruit bearing), Oleander (actually a large bush), and Windmill Palms (hardy into areas of zone 6).

Worst Trees to Plant Around a Pool Just as there are trees that do well around pools, there are lots of trees that won’t. In most cases, chlorinated water or salt pool splash-out is not much of a concern, as long as trees around a pool are regularly watered. Climate: Again the regional climate is the number one consideration. Refer to the map above and look for trees that are “hardy” in your local zones. A tree that does well in zone 8 may not survive winters in zone 7. Litter: Some trees are constantly shedding buds, flowers, leaves and bark. With a little wind, this can fill your pool with debris, but using a leaf catcher or even solar cover can mitigate some of this issue. Deciduous trees are not necessarily bad, but will give the backyard a bare appearance during winter. Leaf Size: Small leaves from a willow or maple tree can be fairly manageable but large leaves can clog skimmers, pool vacuums and cleaners, berries can stain pools and pool decks, and soft fruits can be messy and smelly. Root Systems: Most trees grow root systems of about the same size as the tree branch systems. Some trees have very aggressive roots that can damage pool walls or vinyl liners when planted too close to inground pools. The worst trees to plant around a pool include (among others), Ash, Cottonwood, Elm, Eucalyptus, Mulberry, Oak, Pine, Poplar and Walnut Trees – messy, sticky, oily and dusty. Avoid trees that grow too fast, too tall and spindly, which are prone to limb loss or complete loss.

Let's finish by saying this, I love trees and if they were there before the pool, perhaps they have squatter’s rights, and should not be taken down to improve the view or sun exposure. But they can be trimmed! And with that said, don’t be afraid to change what was planted after the pool was built. If you have trees around a pool that have become undesirable tenants – you can start over, with something new!

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