The Q&A Archives: pool planting

Question: I'm planting dwarf banana next to pool and need advice on underplantings. Color or scent, tropical look would be nice. It's in front next to beach entry so lower heights desired. Full sun, somewhat sheltered by avocado trees, summer 80's to 110F, winter 40's to 70's with occasional light freeze. Other plants around the pool--hibiscus, canna, bird of paradise, sword ferns. Thanks!

Answer: Sounds like a beautiful design! Plants chosen to landscape swimming pool areas should meet three requirements. Branches, foliage and flowers should be smooth, not bristly, prickly, sharp or thorny, the plants should be as litter-free as possible, and they should be able to tolerate splashes of chlorine treated water. In your California garden you can choose from dozens of potential plants. Palms and tree ferns are first choices in trees, Acacia and Firmiana simplex (Chinese Parasol Tree) are next on the list. Camellia, Lantana, Viburnum davidii, Fatsia japonica (Japanese Aralia), Junipers and Pittosporum tobira are all good choices for dense hedging or shrubs, and flower choices include Lily of the Nile, Alstroemeria, Colocasia (Elephant's Ear), Coreopsis, Gazania, Daylily, Kniphofia (Red-Hot Poker), Limonium, and Gaillardia. With these suggestions in mind, you should be able to put together a functional and attractive poolside landscape. For detailed cultural information on these plants, plus some other ideas, consult Sunset Western Garden Book (ISBN# 0-376-03851-9).

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