Are you looking into improving your pool landscaping design and wondering about the best trees to plant around a pool? A well-planned pool area creates the ultimate outdoor oasis. Incorporating trees as part of your pool landscaping is a great way to create natural privacy screens and shade and can either make or break your pool maintenance and upkeep.
Your pool area is dull without landscaping, but you don’t want the trees you plant to cause more problems than good. There are a few things to consider about the trees you plan to plant around your swimming pool, and it’s a good idea to do your research so you can spend more time enjoying your pool than picking flower petals and leaves out of the pool. Or, even worse, you have to replace your pool deck because the roots of the tree disrupt the surface.
The considerations include the root system, leaf drop, amount of shade, and ability to survive and thrive in your climate. I’ve developed a guide of some of the best trees to grow around your pool based on cooler or warmer weather.
Just a friendly reminder: This tutorial and any opinions or recommendations are genuinely mine, but this is not a substitute for consulting a professional. I also use affiliate links to earn a commission.
Hardiness Zone 101
The first thing you need to know before deciding on your pool area landscaping is what hardiness zone you live in. A hardiness zone is an assigned number by the USDA to each location throughout the USA, indicating which plants and trees are likely to survive the winter in that area. A zone is determined based on the area’s average winter temperature.
Determining the best trees to plant around a pool highly hinges on your hardiness zone. Pools in more southern areas or warmer hardiness zones have a wider variety of landscaping options, but there are still plenty of attractive options for those cold climate states. I’ve broken down some of the best tree options based on a colder hardiness zone (rated five or less) and warmer hardiness zones (rated six or more). And all you pool lovers who want to create the ultimate outdoor oasis, check out these under deck roofing ideas.
Let’s first look at the best trees to plan around a pool for a colder climate.
Best Trees to Plant Around a Pool in a Colder Climate
- Ornamental grasses
- Evergreen trees
- Holly trees
- Deciduous trees
- Cypress Trees
- Japanese Maple
Ornamental grasses are a great choice for your pool landscaping because they make a striking border and mix well with other flowers and evergreen trees. They are grown for their colorful foliage and create the most beautiful movement and sound when. They are also one of the best poolside plants because they are the perfect way to add texture and medium height to the area.
Although ornamental grasses do well in warmer climates, they can also survive colder temperatures depending on which grass you select. Their root system is ideal for around a pool deck since they grow vertically rather than horizontally. They are effortless to grow, require very little water, and won’t create a mess in or around the pool.
Evergreen’s trees are low maintenance and fast grower and create very tall natural privacy screens, making them one of the best trees to plant around a pool. The tallest evergreen trees can reach heights of 20 to sixty feet, whereas the dwarf varieties will max out more, around three to six feet. These trees stay green through every season. Since there are so many types of evergreen trees, when selecting, be sure to research the hardiness zone and find something that keeps its needles.
Best Trees to Plant around a Pool: Holly Trees
The holly tree squeaks into the colder hardiness zone by having a few species that can ensure winter with negative temperatures. The lowest hardiness zone these trees will survive in is zone five, and the blue holly is your best bet for a thriving holly tree. These trees have beautiful and unique glossy green foliage and make for easy landscaping since they require little maintenance. The berries hang persistently onto the tree until winter when your pool is likely closed for the season, so you won’t have to worry about these trees making more pool skimming for you.
Deciduous trees drop their leaves once the air temperatures also start to drop. Falling leaves around a pool may not be the absolutely best choice for a tree around a pool deck, but these large trees are still an option if you place them far away from the swimming pool. The other thought process is that by the time the leaves fall, you will likely close your pool for the season, so if you time it correctly, you can avoid the leaves falling directly into the pool. Deciduous trees around a pool provide dense foliage, shade, and a natural privacy wall. None of this exists in the winter months, but it shouldn’t matter too much because you will not be out enjoying your swimming pool while the snow is falling.
Cypress trees are good for around a pool because they can grow to extremely high heights. Initially, they will require a decent amount of water, but once established, they need much less maintenance. Their short needles have a feathery appearance, which, depending on the species, may turn golden or brown in the winter months.
A false cypress tree is one species that does well in hardiness zones four through eight. Although they can tolerate freezing temperatures, this can cause foliage burn, especially in a more immature tree. The best way to protect your younger trees from wind and cold is to wrap them in burlap. They like full sun, which is why they are good for surrounding a pool area.
Juniper Trees is the type of tree that I found to tolerate a hardiness zone of three. These come in various shapes and sizes, from small shrubs to tall trees. You also won’t have to worry about cleaning up any dropping leaves or needles since they rarely do so, only when stressed.
One type of deciduous tree is a Japanese Maple, which is known for its striking foliage and comes in various sizes, from shrubs to small trees. They can also be grown in a container pot as long as you have proper drainage because the root systems do not like standing water. These trees are known to be finicky, so read up on the conditions like prefer to prevent this. The Japanese Maple is one of the best trees to plant around a pool because and work so well in landscape design because of its smaller size, beautiful foliage, and unique ornamental shape. Just watch out for the dropping leaves in the cooler temperatures.
Best Tress to Plant Around a Pool in Warm Climates
When I think of warmer climates and a pool, I think of tropical plants and trees. Growing up primarily in the northeast, I find these types of trees fascinating, and they have become the vacation symbol. The beauty of a pool landscape in a warmer climate is the options for plants and trees are much greater because you don’t have to worry about keeping your poolside garden alive through the harsh freezing temperatures. Instead, you must be careful about protecting your landscaping from too much sun because, at times, full sun exposure can be just as damaging as freezing temperatures.
Let’s look at the best tress to plan around a pool in warmer hardiness zones.
- Palm Trees
- Magnolia Trees
- Crape Myrtle
- Fruitless Olive Tree
- Leather Leaf Acacia
- Banana Tree
- Citrus Tree
Does any tree give a more tropical vibe than a palm tree? There is a wide range of these trees (we’re talking thousands), ranging from short to bush-like to soaring heights of one hundred feet. The most symbolic palms are those with very tall trunks and fan-like leaves, and although there are plenty of varieties, here are ten of the most stereotypical of these trees:
- Chinese Windmill Pam (trachycarpus fortunei)
- Christmas palm (Adonidia merrillii)
- Bottle Palm Tree (Hyophorbe lagenicaulis)
- Florida Cherry Palm (Pseudophoenix sargentii)
- Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera)
- California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)
- Foxtail Palm (Wodyetia bifurcata)
- Sylvester Palm (Phoenix sylvestris)
- Florida Thatch Palm (Thrinax radiata)
- Florida Royal Palm (Roystonea regia)
One of my favorite palms is the Sago Palms, and oddly enough, despite their appearance and name, botanically, they are not truly palm trees. Regardless of this technicality, the Sago Palm has the cutest stumpy stem and gorgeous soft fern-like palms. These make excellent trees for around a pool because of their medium stature, minimal maintenance, and dreamy tropical vibe.
Magnolia trees symbolize the south and a great addition for pool landscaping because they love full sun and hot summer months. They are fast growing and develop to be impressively tall and wide. This type of tree is known for its gorgeous flower, which is stunning but may cause headaches around a pool. Since this Magnolia Tree won’t do well in tight spaces and has petals that will eventually drop, the ideal place to plant this is far enough back from your pool to prevent crowding with other landscaping and any debris from entering your pool.
Best Tress to Plant Around a Pool: Crape Myrtle
The beautiful flowers produced by a crape myrtle provide the most stunning color and interest while they soak up the hot sun during the summer days. And the bonus is they are not annual flowers, so you’ll enjoy their beauty year after year. During the winter months, their exfoliating bark continues to provide visual appeal in your outdoor space. They can tolerate partial sun, which may result in less colorful flowers. Some may disagree that this type of tree is suitable for around a backyard pool because of how many petals could fall into the water. Although not the best plants, using these to create a border farther away from your pool will prevent a huge mess inside your pool unless there are strong winds to blow them in.
Fruitless Olive Tree
The Fruitless Olive Tree is your best option if you’re looking for something that will create the least mess in your pool surroundings. A small yellow flower is produced; however, the amount is so few and much less than many other options. This type of tree has a gorgeous trunk that twists and delicate grey-green leaves. This tree grows best in a mixture of rocky and sandy soil and is drought-resistant, which is ideal, especially if you live in an area in the south where watering bans are common.
Leather Leaf Acacia
The leather lead acacia, named for its leathery leaves, is the perfect tree for privacy screening since it grows into a large, full, rounded shape. During the summer months, this tree develops the most beautiful rod-shaped yellow flowers that stick around from spring through summer. When planting the leather leaf acacia, keep in mind your spacing. Although it is one of the slow growers, it can grow up to ten to fifteen feet tall and wide.
Banana Trees generally prefer tropical or subtropical climates; in the USA, they are primarily in Hawaii and Florida. These trees need full sun and lots of fertilizing and watering, but it’s worth it because they provide a tropical look and produce a homegrown banana! The large leaves of the banana tree resemble that of a palm tree and are an excellent way to block the sun and wind making them a good choice of tree for around a pool.
Best Trees to Plant Around a Pool: Citrus Trees
Continuing with the homegrown theme, citrus trees are another pool landscaping option that also grows fruit. There are many reasons this small tree is great for around a pool. They prefer warm and sunny, are not messy, are an easy way to add a pop of color to your landscape, and work well in pots or containers around the pool’s edge. Placing these large pots on wheels allows you to move them inside and out and closer or further away from the pool’s edge, which also helps from the pool water disrupting your plants.