THE cooler-than-average conditions in our part of the world meant the swimming pool didn't get much use over the Christmas period.
But for most of summer, the pool is definitely a focal point of the home and garden, so it's important to get the landscaping right.
Of course, you need to ensure that the garden areas surrounding the pool fit in with in the overall style of the property, and there are some additional design considerations that arise in a poolside planting.
The bottom line is that you want to add to the enjoyment of the area, without adding too much to the workload in keeping it looking great.
So think low maintenance. Steer well clear of anything that will drop leaves, flowers or fruit into the water or on to the immediate pool surrounds. Not only will it look unsightly, but it will create more work to keep the area tidy, and may even leave stains that are impossible to remove.
Avoid injury and discomfort by keeping all scratchy, thorny and spiky plants such as cycads, bougainvilleas and roses well away from areas where people will be moving around.
Make sure that whatever you plant can tolerate a bit of salt water every now and then. If your swimmers are inclined to be the boisterous, bomb-diving kind, then the salt-tolerant requirement extends far beyond the edges of the pool.
If the pool is in an exposed position or you need to create some privacy, then you might like to plant some dense shrubs such as murraya, lilly pillies, hibiscus, port wine magnolias, or camellias. Clumping palms like golden canes will do the job too. But do choose carefully - if the plants are too close to the pool, you may end up with lots of leaves in the water, and that means more work to clean up after every windy spell.
It can get pretty uncomfortable in the hot afternoon sun, so a small tree strategically placed on the western side might give some welcome relief. The down-side here is that most trees shed leaves, even evergreen ones. Deciduous trees drop most of their leaves in a concentrated period of a few weeks, whereas evergreen trees drop a few leaves continuously throughout the year. Frangipanis and magnolia Little Gem or magnolia Teddy Bear could work for you.
The basic rules of garden maintenance apply - mulch to suppress weeds, fertilise regularly, and prune lightly every now and then, preferably after flowering.
A good landscape can add up to 20 percent to the value of a property. So investing in the gardens not only adds to the enjoyment and quality of life, but it also makes sound financial sense.
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