Photos courtesy of Van Kirk & Sons Pools & Spas

Landscaping is an attractive and important compliment to a home’s pool and spa. But when the planting of trees, shrubs and flowers interferes or doesn’t fit with the installation and function of these outdoor playgrounds, it becomes an issue.

“Many pool companies or landscape companies do not think about the global backyard,” says Chuck Baumann, owner of Creative Environments of California. Landscape designers should have a commitment to a synergistic relationship with all other elements in the backyard environment “as their only dog in the fight.” This includes the architecture of the homes being built, the topography of the land and even the personalities of the clients.

A landscape design, i.e. the pool, hardscape, landscaping and various entertainment areas, need to complement one another. “They need to satisfy the shopping list our clients fill out,” Baumann says. “A well thought-out design with all its textures is a worthwhile investment in the lifestyle of our clients.”

The integration of the pool with the landscape is a critical part of the overall client investment, according to Baumann. “I realized this back in the 1970s when I started my pool company. I also began to landscape around my pools about 10 years later and found that both landscape design, pool construction and landscape contraction all go hand-in-hand as part of the backyard experience.”

When shrubs and bushes are too big they could take away from the beauty and luxury the pool builder is trying to design, says Brian Van Kirk, design consultant of Van Kirk & Sons Pools & Spas in Florida.

He says sprinklers should be at least three to five feet away from the pool or pool lines.

One of the most important pieces of advice Jon Schulter, marketing director at Van Kirk, says he can give landscapers is that plantings or trees must never be placed near plumbing pipes for the pool. “The roots can eventually break the pool lines over time,” he says.

All the elements in a landscape design, including the pool, hardscaping and entertainment areas, should be complementary.

Communicate details.

Constant communication is a key in developing any strong and productive working relationship. It’s no different between landscaping professionals and pool and spa installers. “If the landscaper sees the pool design, then he or she can have a much easier time figuring out where to place certain plants, trees and flower beds,” Van Kirk says.

It’s absolutely vital that landscapers and pool and spa installers meet prior and during a project, says Van Kirk. “The more planning and communication they have, the better they can work with one another other and avoid causing problems for each other.” Planning and communication is also positive because the landscaping can be designed to fit the style and beauty of a particular pool. For instance, if it’s a tropical-themed pool, the landscaping can match that theme by incorporating species of plants and flowers to match.

It is always better to prevent problems before they occur, for everyone’s benefit.

“You have to realize your place in the big picture,” Baumann says. “I am but one part of a play that is taking place in the backyard. Times have changed greatly since my dad started to build pools back in the 1950s. His normal backyard might have cost a few thousand dollars. Projects we are involved in now can cost well over $1 million. It is a major investment in both our clients’ homes and in their lifestyles.”

Baumann holds a pre-construction meeting with clients in their backyard for every project his firm undertakes. “The architect or designer, along with all those working on the project, need to attend this meeting,” he says. “The level of communication is taken to a higher level when “pre-con meetings are held because none of us want to look bad in front of the clients, architect or other team members.”

Each professional should discuss their individual responsibilities to both the client and to each other. Baumann is the first person to put his hands on the project. He keeps notes, takes a lot of pictures and then emails them to all others working on the project to “set the tempo for how they need to proceed.”

Proper joint planning, communication and the development of ongoing synergy between landscaping and pool and spa professionals can insure a beautifully accented final product – and a happy client.