Swimming Pool Landscaping With Succulents and Cacti

Living in a warmer climate like California or Arizona? Want to create a desert oasis in your own backyard? Landscaping with succulents and cacti around your swimming pool is a beautiful, low-maintenance way to transform your outdoor space.

Who doesn’t love a gorgeous poolside surrounded by colorful, sculptural plants that practically take care of themselves? Read on to learn everything you need to know to get the most out of landscaping your pool with these drought-tolerant beauties.

swimming pool landscaping with succulents and cacti

Benefits of Using Succulents and Cacti

There are many benefits to using succulents and cacti in your pool landscaping plans. If you’re new to these plants you may want to read a guide to succulents first. Succulents and cacti are low-maintenance plants that are adapted to hot, dry conditions which makes them perfect for poolside planting.

Once established, they require very little watering or care compared to traditional garden plants. Because they store water in their leaves and stems, succulents and cacti can withstand long periods of drought. There is no need to worry about constantly watering them in the heat of summer.

With their unique shapes, textures, and colors, these plants add tons of visual interest around the pool. They make great focal points and pop against the pool’s blue water.

The Choices Available

Succulents and cacti come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and growth habits. You can find low-growing varieties for the pool’s edge as well as columnar or tree-like specimens that provide height. Many succulents have soft rounded leaves rather than thorny varieties, making them child and pet-friendly.

From xeriscapes to rock gardens, container plantings to poolside beds, succulents and cacti allow for lots of creative design possibilities. Whether you’re aiming for a desert oasis feel or just want low-maintenance plants that can withstand poolside conditions, DIY swimming pool expert, Mike Stephenson would highly recommend landscaping to bring out the best of your private oasis.

Choosing the Right Varieties

With thousands of varieties to pick from, start by thinking about your unique needs. Most succulents thrive in full sun, which makes the poolside perfect. But if you have shady spots, look for lower-light varieties like haworthias.

It is worth checking your location on the USDA plant hardiness zone map before choosing plants. In cooler climates, stick with cold hardy succulents like sempervivums, sedums, and some echeverias. The pool’s microclimate can also help overwinter tender varieties. 

Consider Aesthetics

For visual interest, look for a mix of heights, textures, and colors. Columnar cacti make nice vertical accents while ground-cover succulents fill in around them. Cacti often have sharp spines and prickly pears have tiny hair-like glochids, so for kid-friendly pool landscaping, look for smooth varieties like moon cactus.

If you’ll be planting in pots, choose compact, slower-growing succulents suited to container life. Aeoniums are an excellent choice. Talk to your local nursery experts and research options online to create the perfect succulent and cactus palette.

Caring for Succulents and Cacti

While succulents and cacti are low maintenance compared to typical plants, they do have some specific care requirements. Create a fast-draining soil mixture using equal parts potting mix, coarse sand, perlite, or pumice since proper drainage is critical.

Wait until the soil is completely dry, then soak the soil completely. Repeat less frequently than for typical plants. Take care not to overwater, as succulents store water in their leaves. Only water when the soil is fully dry to the touch.

Fertilizer and Pests

During the active growing season, use a water-soluble or slow-release fertilizer at 1/4 strength every 4-6 weeks. Watch for rootbound plants, and repot into the next size container using a well-draining soil mix. Mealybugs, aphids, and scale insects can be an issue, so insecticidal soap, neem oil, or rubbing alcohol can help control outbreaks.

In cooler climates, protect succulents and cacti from frost and freezing in winter by covering or moving containers indoors. Make sure your plants get plenty of sun and let that soil dry out between waterings for happy, thriving succulents around your pool. It’s easy and fun.

Design Tips for Pool Landscaping

If you are in the process of building a swimming pool then consider the DIY approach. Using DIY swimming pool companies means cutting out the middlemen and making serious cost savings.

Get creative with these design tips for gorgeous poolside planting with succulents and cacti:

  • Repeat a pattern of 3-5 of the same type of plant for greater design impact.
  • Combine round, fleshy Echeveria leaves with spiky, vertical cacti for visual contrast.
  • Include a range of heights for layered landscape dimensions. Low growers in front, tall columnar cacti in back.
  • Align repeated vertical elements like rows of columnar cacti to create a strong line of sight.

Once the installation has been completed, you can start designing your landscaping. Then you will soon be having fun from a DIY pool surrounded by a beautiful landscaped garden.

Consider Positioning and Contrast

Use low-growing succulents to transition from the edge of the pool to garden beds and borders. Surround succulents and cacti with gravel or large boulders for a natural, desert look. Accent with pool decking, tiles, paving stones, or other hardscaping.

Plant succulents and cacti in colorful pots and containers for added mobility and design flexibility. Follow basic design principles like repetition, contrast, and flow to create a gorgeous succulent and cactus oasis around your pool. Have fun and get creative.

Enhancing the Landscape

There are a thousand types of succulents you could use, but what about other features? Take your succulent and cactus pool landscaping to the next level by incorporating additional elements. 

Add lighting such as path lights, bulb string lights, or flood lights which can create a dramatic nighttime ambiance and tropical mood. Include water features like a bubbling fountain or boulder waterfall that will complement the succulents perfectly. Create seating areas where you can relax by the pool with chairs, loungers, or even benches nestled in the garden.

Comfort for Guests

To shield yourself from the scorching summer sun, install shade structures like pergolas, ramadas, or umbrellas that will provide needed shelter. Make sure to create spots for hanging out with friends and family. A crackling fire pit can be a gathering spot for chats.

Consider having a built-in BBQ kitchen where everyone can enjoy meals together. Customize your pool landscaping based on your lifestyle. Adding succulents and cacti does not just add beauty but also allows for fun DIY touches.

Enhancing Comfort and Enjoyment

Don’t overlook the things that can make your time by the pool more enjoyable. Consider adding loungers with cushions, sun shades for some shade cooling fans to beat the heat, and a mini fridge for keeping your beverages chilled.

To amp up the fun factor include pool floats, water guns, and beach balls. To create an atmosphere reminiscent of a resort, play some ambient music through outdoor speakers.

To Conclude

The use of succulents and cacti is a great way to create a desert garden to complement your DIY swimming pool or other water features. If you follow the tips given above, you will find caring for your succulents easy and they will thrive in the right conditions.

With the addition of decking, gravel paths, or a patio you will add functionality to your garden. Plus, exterior lights will extend the use of your backyard and pool into the evening.