In the Garden:
Southwestern Deserts
May, 2003
Regional Report

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Ratibida columnaris (Mexican hat) is a colorful poolside plant that takes full sun and reflected heat.

Landscaping Around Pools

Our much anticipated 100-degree days have arrived and it's time to splash into the pool for a quick cool-down. If you don't want to spend your free time "sweeping" the water to remove leaves, here are a few suggestions to help you choose low-maintenance poolside plants.

Desert-Adapted Plants
First, consider how hot it is around the pool area, especially in summer. Plants must be able to take intense reflected heat and glare around the pool and decking. If plants also are near a west- or south-facing wall, conditions are even more intense. Desert-adapted plants take this in stride. Non-adapted plants will be stressed, and stressed plants are more susceptible to pests and diseases.

Low-Litter Plants
Choose plants that drop minimal foliage, flowers, pollen, or seed pods. Excessive plant litter ends up in the water and must be skimmed frequently to prevent it from clogging drains and filters. If messy plants are already installed, it may save time and money in the long run to replace them now.

Other Considerations
Also consider a plant's water use. Low-water-use plants are preferable around pools because heavy irrigation can damage decking or equipment.

Palms conjure images of an oasis. Consider Mexican blue palm (Brahea armata), Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis) and Pindo palm (Butia capitata). Remove flower stalks before they can set seeds, which are messy when they drop.

Succulents, such as aloe, agave, cacti, and yucca, drop very little litter and thrive in the heat with minimal water and care. Their sculptural shapes are especially intriguing when lit at night.

Choose fragrant plants to enjoy their aroma while relaxing outdoors. Try Rosemary, Mexican bush oregano (Lippia graveolens), mountain marigold (Tagetes lemmonii), chaparral sage (Salvia clevelandii), scented geranium, and creosote bush.

For more plant suggestions, the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension has a free publication entitled "Plants for Poolside Landscapes" available online. Go to: http://ag.arizona.edu/pubs/pubsindex.html#Gardening.


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