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How to achieve pool-friendly landscaping

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Walking around a client’s garden this past week I noticed planting arrangements around her pool which brought back childhood memories of sharp leaves poking my skin.

With so many stylised and modern contemporary looking homes being built these days, a lot of people place the wrong plants around the edges of the pool. A common plant which is used as a structural feature and to make a bold statement is the Cycad revolute which has very sharp leaves. Planting this plant along the side of the pool does look stunning, but climbing in and out of the pool will cause injuries to your eyes and skin.

Avoid these plant-induced pool headachesBeautiful pool

When planning your garden around a pool, stay clear of all plants with sharp leaves, thorns and spines. Examples are aloes, roses, cycads, cacti, and thorn trees species. When planting trees and shrubs make sure the roots are not aggressive. A tropical plant known as a Strelitzia nicolai is often planted around pools to give the tropical feeling with its lush glossy green leaves. We have had to restore many pools and ponds; the fibrous roots of this plant can cause severe damage to pools, walls and driveways.

Fig trees are a no go around pools; the roots of a fig tree cause tremendous damage. Another key note is to plant trees and shrubs that will not be dropping their leaves constantly into the pool. Remember when placing your pool or trees that you want the maximum amount of sunlight in your pool as this will increase the pool temperature – there is nothing worse than a freezing pool. A pool with a temperature between 18’c and 26’c will be enjoyed for many hours on end.

Flowers around the edges of pools looks magnificent, but with pollen and nectar rich flowers brings bees. This is just another precaution to take when designing your pool garden.

Design elements to keep top of mindPool at night

When designing your pool ask the pool specialist and landscaper what damage the chemicals or salt chlorinated pool does to the lawns and flowerbeds surrounding your pool, also ensure that the backwash pipe and water is disposed of correctly. I have seen magnificent trees die due to pool chemicals being backwashed onto their roots. Remember! Once pool chemicals have damaged your soil, it is very difficult to rectify the soils again.

I saw a pool just the other day with a planter in the middle of the pool, now it does look grand but you should think about the practical elements: How are you going to water and maintain it?

If planning raised or rock gardens around the pool remember to ensure that the drainage holes flow away from the pool. There is nothing worse than soil making the pool murky and staining the pool lining.

When designing a new pool ask your pool and irrigation specialist to include a pipe which will fill up the pool whenever the irrigation is on. This helps minimising the risk of forgetting that the hosepipe is in the pool and filling the pool.

Pool safety: When designing your pool remember to ensure that the surface around the pool is non-slip; this will prevent any injuries. Ensure that your pool is either fenced or has a pool net on it. Having a pool cover helps minimise evaporation but check that it can withstand the weight of a child or adult.

Find out how to create a nature pool in the next Gardening feature

#AskALandscaper – Got a burning gardening question? E-mail mariette@hometimes.co.za


What a relief it is to find out that the water restrictions have been lifted in most of the areas within the Vaal catchment area following the rains we’ve enjoyed.

It remains vital though that we all take precautions when watering our gardens and using water within our homes. I would recommend that you install an automated irrigation system.

With an irrigation system you can set the days and times at which you water your garden. An irrigation system is key in minimising water wastage as you can water different areas, adjust the amount of water to sprayed in different areas as well as watering specific areas only eg: lawns and flowerbeds separately.

Top tip: The best times to water your garden in summer is between 6pm and 8am and in Winter I would recommend only watering between 7am and 12pm, thus minimising frost damage.

Who is Nicholas Spargo?

Nicholas Spargo, owner of Spargo Landscape Consultants.

Nicholas Spargo, owner of Spargo Landscape Consultants.

Nicholas Spargo, owner of Spargo Landscape Consultants, has been in the landscape trade for 12 years as well as being a lecturer at the Lifestyle Garden Design Centre for the past year. He was awarded a Gold for a design at the Lifestyle Garden Design Centre Design Show in 2008, is an Invasive Species Consultant and is affiliated with the South African Green Industries Council.

Landscaping and education are very close to his hear


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