Mr. Hutcheson


Landscaping for Ponds and Pools

By Ken Hutcheson, President, U.S. Lawns

Water features such as a pond, decorative pool, or swimming pool-on the grounds of a hotel or other commercial property can add a great deal of charm to the landscape. In fact, these features are almost always the first thing that capture the attention of your guests. However, these valued and highly visible features require landscapers to consider a number of factors in order to ensure maximum health, beauty, and enjoyment of your ponds and pools by your guests.

Top Considerations

Go with the flow. Make sure your landscaping of water features doesn't interrupt your site's drainage system. Take a look at the grading of swells and troughs that pull water away from structures and landscape with an eye toward guiding water runoff toward drainage fields, gutters, and drainage ponds. Rake out obstructions and generally do what you can to keep water moving. Severe problems may require the help of a professional who specializes in functional, aesthetic drainage solutions.

Keep things moving - A pond or pool is going to attract bugs and mosquitoes, so it is essential that you locate any stagnant water on your property. Unchanged standing water for three days may be enough time for mosquitoes to run through their life cycle, depending on temperature and breed. Most mosquitoes grow from egg, to larvae, to pupa, to adult in four to 14 days. Consider flat roofs, clogged gutters, water barrels, even bird baths as potential breeding grounds. Put lids on trash cans and cover or flip over any buckets, wheelbarrows, or other containers on your site that can hold water.

Harmonize with nature - Blend ponds and pools with local plants and animals. In other words, let nature control its own excesses. Many local and municipal governments are now encouraging the construction of sustainable "mini-ecosystems" around ponds and pools. This includes using natural techniques to control mosquitoes, such as the presence of frogs, fish, and birds in ponds that can quickly flourish to control mosquitoes.

Limit pesticide use - Pesticides only work temporarily and are even harder on our friendly, bug-eating animals so a sustainable approach is usually best. If you must spray, an outdoor fog has a less harsh and shorter effect on the environment and can be used for occasions where large gatherings of people around your pond or pool are likely. Long-term and repeated use of pesticides can be harmful to people, especially children and elderly with asthma or other lung conditions.

Landscaping Ponds

Developing a landscape around a pond can be relatively simple, involving the selection, siting and installation of groups of trees and shrubs. Pond projects can also be extremely complex and include rearranging topography, constructing hardscaping-such as walkways, walls, and even bridges-and substantial planting. Designers and landscapers have to consider the ultimate use of a pond and its surroundings and how the pond fits into a larger landscape.

Existing elements - Using existing elements like mature trees, intact hardscaping, and specimen shrubs can save time and money, so before adding new landscape elements, take a careful look at the site. A large, healthy tree can be a focal point of the new landscape. Removing old and sickly trees and shrubs or crumbling hardscaping will help give you a sense of what needs to be added to the area around the pond.

Reflections - The plantings surrounding the pond will be reflected in the water in all seasons, so select graceful specimens of plants and trees that can naturally enhance the beauty of your pond.

Habitat plants - Ponds are magnets for wildlife, so underplant tall trees with shrubs and communities of plants that provide food, nesting sites, and cover for birds, small animals, and insects. Choose at least a few fruiting plants that can provide cover at the water's edge while providing sustenance to the wildlife in your area.

Adding color - Colorful marginal plantings by the water's edge play an important role around any pond and can be incorporated in clumps or swathes in most water landscapes. Plantings that add splashes of color will enhance the overall beauty of your pond setting.

Landscaping Decorative Pools

Pools that are decorative need pumps, filters and accessories to help keep them clean and maintained for your guests. So, in your pool landscape design try to hide these items with features such as plants, trees, or statues. With effective camouflage, you guests won't even know the pool's operating equipment is there. Keep in mind that you will need to gain regular access to this area for routine pool maintenance, so try not to go overboard and completely block out the area. Designers and landscapers also have several, other key aspects to consider.

Native plants - A great choice for landscaping decorative pools is native plants. They will grow extremely well without much effort and will require very low maintenance over the long term.

Introduced plants and trees - Colorful and fragrant plants are a great addition to pool landscaping, especially in areas that are to be used as sitting areas. The aromas of the plants will help relax and soothe your guests. Be sure to avoid plants, trees, and flowers that shed their leaves as they will head straight into the pool and can cause blockages in the filtering system. It will also require you to constantly skim your pool's surface and clean its walls and bottom.

Pots and urns - If using flowers, trees, and shrubs in the pool landscape design, try planting them in large pots or urns to create a variety of colors to help brighten up the pool area. Blend the pots into the garden beds for a different overall appearance. Pots can be moved around to create a different look every day.

Rocks and boulders - Try using rocks and boulders in the pool's landscape as they can be great features that add subtle color and texture, and, best of all, do not require any maintenance.

Landscaping Swimming Pools

Landscaping your facility's swimming pool can turn the most basic pool and patio into an absolute oasis for your guests. In many cases, it's the pool's landscaping that delivers the real "wow" factor. Privacy, safety, beauty, and convenience are some of the key considerations any designer or landscaper needs to keep in mind when landscaping around swimming pools.

Plants and trees - Providing beauty and privacy around a swimming pool, plants soften the harsh lines of swimming pool equipment and help swimming pools blend more naturally with their surrounding environment. If you grow plants that are tall enough, they will form privacy screens around the pool area. But, plants must be chosen wisely. Strive for low-maintenance plants that don't shed leaves or needles. Avoid fruit trees-not only are they messy, but the fruits attract bees. And as beautiful as flowers are, be aware that they, too, can be magnets for bees. Even worse, plants with invasive root systems can damage a swimming pool over the years.

Potted plants - The use of potted plants can transform the most lackluster area of an outdoor swimming pool. The power of these contained beauties is that they are totally portable. Be sure to water your potted plants more frequently, because they dry out much faster because of environmental exposure. Cluster potted plants together to obtain the feel of a landscape bed, and utilize stands to combine various types of pots and plants.

Patios and pool decks - Providing not only beauty but safety for swimming pool areas, patio and pool decks provide a slip-resistant surface for guests using your swimming pool. If you opt for a brick patio instead, be sure to keep the surface of the bricks rough in texture. You'll have to periodically clean moss off patios, but the effort will be offset by the safety benefits.

Fencing - When small children are present, fencing around a swimming pool is an absolute must for safety, while a robust fence can keep large wildlife from wandering into your pool. The right fence design can also offer you privacy. If you don't like the look of a fence, soften it by training vines to grow over it. The vines will enhance privacy as well.

Always think through your needs and requirements when it comes to pond and pool landscaping. And, always consult a professional pool landscape contractor if you are considering building, remodeling, or signing on to a maintenance plan for regular landscaping of your pond or pool.

Ken Hutcheson is President of U.S. Lawns. He joined the company in 1995 and has grown the organization from a regional 18-franchise network to a national network of over 250-franchises in all 48 contiguous states. U.S. Lawns is nourished by the values and passion of family-owned and operated franchise businesses. Mr. Hutcheson champions an entrepreneurial spirit and a teamwork culture. He’s skilled at developing employee, franchisee and customer bases that are anchored on a commitment to long-term relationships. His focus on the company’s Franchise Development and Support is central to the company’s steady national expansion and consistently high rankings on industry lists. Mr. Hutcheson can be contacted at 407-246-1630 or Please visit for more information. Extended Bio... retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by

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