Pool Landscaping with a touch of the Mediterranean

Why choose a Mediterranean style for poolside landscaping in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs? Although the so-called Mediterranean climate exists in many parts of the world outside of the Mediterranean Basin – for example, parts of California, South Africa, or southwestern Australia – Sydney’s climate doesn’t exactly classify as Mediterranean. Nevertheless, plants originating from these regions can make a perfect choice for planting around swimming pools.

Plants adapted to salt are also well suited for swimming pool landscaping due to a tolerance for chlorine.
Plants near safety fences need to be selected carefully as to not allow climbing

Due to evaporation, swimming pools with some wind protection create their own unique microclimate. The characteristics that make Mediterranean plants so useful for pool landscaping are their tolerance of salt and sandy soils. These plants evolved to resist the salt-loaded winds near seashores. Conveniently, this also makes them resistant to commonly used pool chemicals. Combine this with a range of attractive colours and shapes and you have perfect plants for pool landscaping.

Apart from adding attractive plants, the owners of this property also wanted to improve other parts of the backyard. The level next to the pool sloped steeply, which didn’t leave much space for lounging near the pool. To make things worse, once the pool safety legislation came into effect, the new safety fence separated the pool from its surroundings even further.

Landscape Plan for Backyard with Mediterranean inspired planting scheme near the swimming pool

To fix this problem, we came up with a deck which extends the area around the pool and addresses the slope. We also altered the safety fence around the pool.

This design was a balancing act to meet the softscape to hardscape ratio while also providing more amenity. Remember that swimming pools requiring structural work will also require development consent. Also, any alteration to a swimming pool safety fence beyond the necessary maintenance requires certification. You can learn more about the relevant pool legislation and standards from the NSW Pool Register’s website.

Swimming pool safety fence and landscaping

Plants around a swimming pool present an additional challenge. Designs need to make sure that children can’t step on these and use them for climbing. Therefore, only soft leaf and soft stem species could be used. There are some variations to this rule depending on the distances and height of boundaries.

Trees around pools also need to be chosen carefully. The branches might grow too close to the fence and allow children to climb them and thus enter to the pool area.

Last but not least, all swimming pools have to comply with relevant legislation, building codes and standards. They also need to be registered and certified.

If you would like to add a Mediterranean feel to your pool landscape, I suggest trying some of these plants. Most of them originate from the Mediterranean Sea region, but a few other plants were added for foliage and colour contrast.

Mediterranean inspire planting palette for landscaping around the pool
Common NameBotanical Name
Mediterranean SpurgeEuphorbia characias ssp. wulfenii
Pride of MadeiraEchium fastuosum 
Golden Cane Palm Dypsis lutescens 
AgaveAgave atenuata
Colorama DracaenaDracaena marginata ‘Colorama’
Blue ChalksticksSenacio serpense
Jerusalem SagePhlomis fruticosa
Bush GermanderTeucrium fruticans
OleanderNerium oleander

Garden Designer: Rado Zezulak

Member of the Australian Institute of Landscape Designers and Managers (AILDM)

Elizabeth Bay, NSW 2011

(by appointment)

ABN: 89579468404
Licence #: 339210C