Homeowners tend to focus on the pool and its amenities when designing that part of their yard. This focus makes sense — the pool and its amenities are what provide the fun. However, you want the pool area to complement the rest of your house, which is where pool landscaping comes in. The goal should be to create a beautiful pool area that incorporates plants and hardscaping.


Hallmarks of modern design include minimalism and an emphasis on geometry. Therefore, think of the pool environs as being on a grid. Try to design landscaping for target areas of the grid with an eye toward keeping the overall effect minimalistic.

For example, you could have a rectangular planting bed installed at a right angle to the pool. You could choose plants that present geometric profiles, such as succulents or manicured evergreens. You could also have the contractors lay concrete pavers into the lawn in a way that enhances the geometric shape of the pavers.

With a modern pool area, you’ll probably also incorporate a fair amount of hardscaping. Beyond the pavers, you should look into including minimalistic water and fire features. For example, if you want a waterfall, consider a simple cascade of water streaming down a wall face. A glass and stone fire pit would be a beautiful addition to this landscape design.


On the opposite end of the spectrum, you may want your swimming pool to look like it occurs in nature. For the naturalistic pool area, you’ll want to include a lot of native plants and hardscaping that matches your regional landscape.

Start with planters and other hardscaping made out of regional natural stone. Conversely, you may choose concrete or tile in colors that match your house’s façade. With naturalistic placement, you’ll be looking less at a grid and more at creating an organic feel.

For the plants themselves, look to the native plants of your region. For instance, below are some plants that are common in Georgia:

  • Butterfly weed
  • Swamp hibiscus
  • Paperbush
  • Rozanne geranium
  • Bottlebrush buckeye
  • Lavender twist redbud
Be careful if your plants are near the pool itself — you don’t want them to drop debris into the water. If you’re going to use a planting for shade, choose one that doesn’t feature seed heads or dead leaves, such as reed or papyrus, even if they’re not strictly plants native to your region.


Somewhere in between the above two ideas is the Zen pool area. This style of landscaping will feature a more organic appearance than the modern garden but less regionalism than the naturalistic pool area. Consider using Japanese gardening ideals as inspiration.

For the hardscaping, you want simple but naturalistic paving. Instead of the strict geometry presented by grass and pavers, imagine natural rocks and moss, which presents a softer profile. Exposed aggregate is another good hardscaping choice. That said, you want to be restrained in how much hardscaping you install because minimalism is still favored in this style.

Plants in a Zen garden can be lusher than with modern. Weeping trees and bonsai plants are classics. You also see ferns, hosta plants, and azalea in such gardens. Naturally, Japanese maple trees and cherry trees are popular, but you want to keep them away from the water. These are good backdrop plants.

The key with your Zen pool area is maintaining a sense of balance. You want to show a connection between water, earth, and sky. You may even want to include a fire feature to touch all four of the elements. Fountains, waterfalls, and bridges are all ways to create this sense of balance in your pool area.

Your swimming pool and its amenities should not stand alone in your backyard. Use beautiful landscaping and hardscaping to create an attractive pool. Athens Pool & Spa can help you design and implement the ideal pool area for your yard.