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Landscape close to your pool

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Landscaping close to your pool saves water and energy; it creates a natural environment around your pool which allows for plants to absorb carbon dioxide in the air; and, if also made into a natural cleaning system for the water, eliminates chlorine, an environmental and personal health hazard.

How to landscape close to your pool

Simply landscaping more closely to the pool allows you to water plants from water that splashes out and runs off from the pool, saving significantly on water use. You can also add trees and shrubs close to the pool, which will create a wind break that decreases water evaporation for when the pool is in use; just make sure they’re not blocking the sun on the pool, which creates natural solar energy.

If you want to go a step further, create a cleaning system for your pool water with plants. This can be done by converting a pool that is already in place or building a completely natural pool. In a separate zone next to but linked to the pool, particular plants are placed in shallow water that purify water—the water from the pool circulates with a pump to this regeneration zone and gets cleaned.

Plant-based cleaning

Just as certain plants supercleanse the air, so too do some with water. Choose aquatic plants like irises, arrowroot, reeds, cattails, and bulrushes, among others. Friendly bacteria on the plant roots act as a biological filter, absorbing contaminants and converting them to plant tissue. By planting them in gravel instead of topsoil, they will have to derive nutrients from the water and thereby keep algae from getting nutrients and growing.


  • Add floating plants like water lilies; their leaves also absorb nutrients from the water.
  • Finish with submergent plants such as common waterweed and hornwort that have a high oxygen output which keeps water clear.
  • Pool filters and ultraviolet lights (for further oxidizing the water) can be added for extra cleaning.

Home and garden centers carry good water-garden plants and several mail-order nurseries specialize in them. Ecological landscapers can also build this water-cleaning oasis for you; because backyard ponds are becoming more popular, ordinary landscapers are also becoming more familiar with them.

Find it! Ecological landscape designers

Landscaping close to your pool helps you go green because...

  • By using splashed-out and run-off water from the pool to water your plants, you are recycling the water instead of wasting it.
  • A windbreak of shrubs or trees saves water and energy that would be lost to wind evaporation—a key in water and energy waste for pools.
  • Using plants for cleaning water lessens chlorine pollution, which eats away at the ozone layer and forms toxic substances in the water and earth. More plants also mean more carbon dioxide absorbed.

Additional benefits

  • It looks and feels more natural to have plants near the water, just as you see with ponds and streams.
  • When you put plants in harmony with water, you create an entire environment and can enjoy nature in your own backyard.
  • Backyard environments are so popular today that your home’s property value is raised by having one.

Swimming pools use an inordinate amount of water. An average pool takes 20,000 gallons to fill, [1] and about 7,000 gallons per month to keep full.[2] And water is energy: pumping and treating water and cleaning it in wastewater plants after it's used accounts for approximately 50 percent of a city's energy bill.[3]


Evaporation is a big factor in water waste with pools, and also uses a lot of energy. It takes one Btu (British thermal unit) to raise 1 pound of water 1 degree, but each pound of 80ºF water that evaporates takes 1,048 Btu of heat out of the pool.[4]

Chlorine is an additional environmental factor in pools. In the upper atmosphere, chlorine molecules from air pollution eat up ozone; in the lower atmosphere, they bond with carbon to form organochlorines, which include hazardous compounds like DDT, PCBs, chloroform, and dioxins.[5] The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found dioxin to be 300,000 times more potent a carcinogen than DDT, and it's believed to be one of the most carcinogenic chemicals known to science.[6] Because of chlorine pollution, Americans ingest a daily amount of dioxin that is already 300 to 600 times greater than the EPA's "safe" dose.[7]

How much this action affects the overall problem

  • An average of 1,800 gallons of water a month is splashed-out or run-off from pools; by simply landscaping close to your pool, you are recycling that water.[8]
  • Even if you’re using a pool cover, when the pool is open a seven miles per hour wind can increase energy consumption by 300 percent. A windbreak shields the pool from wind evaporation.[9]
  • By using plants to clean your pool, you are taking an average of 500 to 700 gallons of chlorine per year out of the environment—from the air, water, and earth.[10] You are replacing that with the oxygen that plants release into the air.

Related health issues

The chlorine used in many pools and inhaled or absorbed through the skin has shown bad effects. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has determined that byproducts can arise when chlorine comes into contact with common organic matter such as dirt and dandruff, and can cause a possible increased risk of cancer. There is also possible damage to the liver, kidneys, and nervous system; and possible increased risk of birth defects for pregnant women.[11][12]

Asthma has found to be caused or worsened by pool chlorine exposure. Other respiratory problems, eye irritation, and rashes are also common.[13]

External links


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