Pool Landscaping Ideas Perfect for the Whole Family

Plan 2 floor plan by Pardee Homes in Santa Clarita, CA.

Comfy seating is a must when designing a pool area the whole family will love, as seen in the Plan 2 floor plan by Pardee Homes in Santa Clarita, CA.

Family-friendly doesn’t just mean kid-friendly. In this article, we share ideas that work just as well for grown-ups as for kids. When it comes to landscaping around a pool, the focus needs to be on lifestyle — for the whole family.

Jodi Cook, the landscape designer behind Naturally, Jodi, agrees. “You’re creating not just a pool setting where people can relax and entertain, but a lifestyle. And the landscaping has to be a part of that lifestyle.”

Safety First

Having a family is a lifestyle, so family safety must be a priority. It’s a horrifying fact that children between the ages of 1 and 4 have the highest drowning rates. And according to TIME, drowning is the No. 2 cause of death among young children in the United States. This information is intended to remind you to be smart and take the necessary precautions.

Anyone who will have children in or near a pool should invest in a pool safety alarm. There are many excellent alarms on the market (for pools and gates), so do your research and choose the one that will work well for your circumstances. Invest in fencing or a covering net for your pool. Make it difficult for a child to simply fall in. And make sure an adult is always supervising pooltime. Pools can be both fun and refreshing on a hot summer day, yet pool safety must be one of the first considerations of a growing family.

Outdoor Living

How do you want to use the space around your pool? Is it primarily for lounging and sunbathing, or will you want an outdoor kitchen and dining area? Will you be entertaining kids during the daytime and adults in the evening? Even kids love an evening swim with LED lights that color the water and create a dramatic poolscape. Do you want a space that is casual or a little more upscale and formal? How you and others will be using the space are important considerations.

Every need and preference has a solution. Say you want the space around the pool to be flexible in terms of how it is used. You want ample seating but a minimal amount of furniture to move around or store. The solution? “A nice, comfortable seat wall provides plenty of extra seating without having to contend with dozens of lawn chairs,” suggests David Marciniak of Revolutionary Gardens.That seat wall could also do double duty as a retaining wall, or even a wall with built-in storage space.

Pool/Pet/Kid-Friendly Plants

A huge, sculptural cactus may be a striking addition to a pool landscape, but a spiny cactus is hardly kid-friendly. Choose plants that love sun and moisture and are suited to your soil and weather conditions, but won’t harm children or pets.

  • Succulents that work well around a pool include Aeonium, Agave attenuata, Aptenia cordifolia, Cotyledon, Crassula, Dudleya, some Echeveria, some Euphorbia, Kalanchoe, Plumeria, Portulacaria afra, Sedum, Sempervivum and Senecio.
  • Ornamental grasses that work well include yellow foxtail grass (Alopecurus pratensis Aureus), giant reed (Arundo donax), clumping bamboo (avoid running bamboo, which can be invasive), lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), blue fescue (Festuca glauca), purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum Rubrum), muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris), Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica Rubra), feather grass (Stipa), rush (Juncus), Korean grass (Zoysia), Phormium, and zebra grass. Some of these grasses can create a sense of privacy around a pool.
  • Vines are also a great way to create privacy and add color and fragrance and vertical visual interest around a pool. Some vines that work well around a pool include passionflower, Carolina jessamine, jasmine, honeysuckle, trumpet vine, and Lady Banks’ rose. Be careful to keep vines away from the house, though. A vine-covered home may be beautiful, but vines can cause structural and surface damage, as well as attempt to cover windows.

If the space around your pool is mostly or completely paved, potted plants add drama and elegance, not to mention a splash of color. Small trees and tropical flowers like canna lilies are tall and create privacy, plus they do well in containers (which can be moved around to suit different occasions).


If you have a pool, you’re likely to also have pool stuff. This could include pool toys, rafts, chair and bench cushions, pool cleaning tools and more. Including storage in your pool landscape design makes cleanup a breeze and avoids having storage that is a potentially unsightly afterthought. You could have storage that is built into the surrounding structures (as with the seat/retaining wall mentioned above) and therefore invisible, or something custom designed to fit in with the surrounding landscaping. Even store-bought storage comes in a wide variety of styles to suit different landscape styles.

As Jodi Cook emphasizes, “The key is creating an experience and a place where people want to hang out and that fits their lifestyle.” When making all of these decisions for your growing family’s pool area, that is certainly the overall goal to keep in mind.
For the last 16 years, Rachel Kinbar has been a writer of articles, blog posts, white papers, essays, infographics, web copy, sales copy, scripts, poetry, lyrics, and more. She has keen research skills that she applies to a wide variety of topics, and she especially loves topics related to design, history, and sustainable living.

She is the former editorial and marketing director of a creative content agency in Europe, where she resided for 11 years. Now back in the U.S., she is continuing her writing career and with her sister has co-founded Kinship Design Marketing, a boutique agency that provides marketing strategies and content for architects, interior designers, and landscape designers. Rachel resides in Florida with her husband and son. When she is not writing, she is likely reading, tending her plants, or playing with clay.

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