Landscaping Around Above Ground Pools

How to Landscape Around an Above Ground Pool

Some of today’s above ground swimming pools look nice. When I first started installing them, there wasn’t visually much to choose from beyond the solid blue, white and blue, or the brown wood printed wall. These early above grounds were ugly, but the world wasn’t nearly as complicated so it didn’t matter much to most.

Lately, since the real estate crash of the mid 2000s, more and more homeowners are opting for an above ground pool rather than getting an in-ground. The biggest reason is the cost of in-ground pools as they have become really expensive. The average cost of an in-ground pool here in Central Florida is between $30 000 and $50 000 with the 30k one being pretty small. Because of this, above ground swimming pools aren’t just for the lower income households and people want to spend more to make them look good in their backyards.

Traditionally, above ground pools have often been considered eyesores since they are ugly and stick up four feet off the ground. Some of the more affluent above ground buyers have an increased budget for their pool and how it looks in their backyard. That’s where landscaping around an above ground pool comes into play.

A large, four-foot cylinder erected in the middle of a yard can look really ugly, but if you add some landscaping around it, the whole yard can look really nice and inviting. You may be surprised how that cylinder can look after you add a couple of small trees, some shrubs, decorative borders, walkways, mulch or rocks, and a nice deck. With the right landscaping, an above ground pool can look amazing.

Above Ground Pool Landscaping Basics

Like most things, landscaping will look best somewhat symmetrical and with some planning. Don’t just plant anything anywhere. First visualize how the entire yard will look.

Border the pool

add a border around your above ground pool

The bottom of an above ground should be maintained on the outside all the way around. Start there by creating a border of some kind at least a foot away from the bottom track. There are many borders to choose. I have seen timber, stone, concrete, and plastic ones. Add decorative rock or mulch in this area. It will create a beautiful transition and promote good drainage around the pool. That alone will make the pool look so much better.

Consider where the pool’s equipment is. If it’s visible from the house, landscape around it again with a border, mulch/rocks, and maybe some small shrubs to hide it a little. Don’t plant anything too close to the equipment as you’ll always want good clear access to everything. Some will build a housing of some kind to cover the equipment. I never recommend that as it can be a pain to remove and get to the pump/filter for servicing, but if you build something nice, then it may help with the look.

Add a walkway

steps to landscaping an above ground pool
Walk this Way?

Regardless of how far your pool is from the house, adding a walkway is almost necessary for helping to keep the pool and the house cleaner. Bathers travelling back and forth on grass and dirt can make a bigger mess than you might think. Making a nice landscaped walkway is really a good opportunity to add to the look of the pool. There is a lot you can do here as some use patio stones for steps and use timbers to border it. Add some rocks or mulch and plant a few small shrubs along the way and it can look very inviting.

Adding a deck? Landscape it.

how to landscape an above ground pool

Above ground pool decks vary quite a bit in size and look. Some are small and very basic and only have steps and a simple handrail. Others are huge. They wrap all the way around the pool with a fancy rail and built-in seating and planters.

Regardless of the size and style, all decks look better with some landscaping around it. Place some potted plants on the deck if there’s room and plant some taller bushes near its outside corners. If the deck is visible from the house, add some colorful annuals along its perimeter. Some will have a lattice covering the outside of their deck and they will plant vines along them.

Adding some trees? Nice. Just don’t plant them too close.

Having some plant life that’s higher than the height of the pool adds to the dimension and feel. Here in Central Florida, palm trees are nice to have in the backyard near the pool. They don’t drop a ton of leaves and they make a nice tropical noise as the wind blows their fronds. Any kind of tree is OK as long as you don’t plant them too close to the pool as their roots will eventually find their way underneath the pool. This isn’t too big of a deal, but you may feel the roots under the liner after some years of growth.

Keep in mind too that as the trees get bigger, they will start to shed their leaves into the pool. Shade is really nice in the summer, but you’ll pay the price by having to remove a lot of leaves from the pool.

Got Some Money Left? Here’s a Couple of Upgrades…


above ground pool landscaping lights

Nothing makes landscaping “pop” more than lighting. Add lights to your pool’s walkway. Drape some along the top of the deck for a more festive look. Point a light up the trees and/or light up a section of the pool’s wall. There is no substitute for direct wiring from your home’s power, but it’s not at all cheap. Solar powered lighting isn’t as good, but can be affordable for what you get.

Patios, Sun Decks, Bars and Cookout areas

Incorporate these fun spots to your pool and landscape around them. Adding colorful plants to these areas will give a warmer feel when it’s cool and a cooler feel when it’s hot.

Add a water feature or coy pond

OK, so this may be a little much, but hey, if you have the money and the time, why not? There’s something about the noise of flowing water that adds to the feel of a place. You may be surprised how many ponds I’ve come across in backyards. They are all beautiful when they are kept up. Good luck.

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36 thoughts on “How to Landscape Around an Above Ground Pool

  1. Please does anyone know best way to locate small leak in liner of 24 ft round pool (the kind with metal sides) also can this type of pool be dug into ground. If so how far is it safe so dirt won’t collapse the frame. We also have scaling white rough stuff on the sides of liner is there something to use to clean it and does water need to be removed to scrub it all off. I suppose if we were to dig it into ground partially would put new liner with a drop so it’s deeper than 5 ft on one side. Anyway we use non chlorine chemicals soft swim. Getting ready to open it and can’t swim until the scaling is off the liner. Thank you. Can you email me ?? Not sure I’ll find this page again. Husband injured in Afghanistan and has hard time with getting in and out and we live in boise where no one can help with the pool so appreciate it so much. Thx.

    1. Hi, I just put in above ground pool. I have stone in my yard with a patio. I want to put a border around the pool. Any ideas

  2. have you heard of hydrogen peroxide treatment as a way to avoid chlorinated chemicals? Any insights or information where to get and how to use properly in above ground pool… which I’ve not purchased yet?

    1. My 27 ft round above ground pool is 2 1/2 ft in the ground around one half and the other is level with the ground, was wondering if anyone has used rubber mulch it is lighter wont compact, and will not retain water, or roots weeds ect, possibly keep exterior pressure off the pool walls, for further help when having to change a liner yrs from now the dirt causes pressure and can cause your pool to cave in with no water. So just wondering if anyone has used rubber mulch?

    2. Yes It’s called baquacil pool chemicals and it works amazingly better than chlorine at keeping away algae , however it is more expensive

  3. Is it okay to put mulch around my above ground pool? Should I put rock against the pool or is full mulch okay?

    1. I have river rocks atop weed barrier around my 27 ft round above ground pool. If you have kids around or even adults who play volley ball in the pool , the mulch will get tracked into the pool, believe me. The rocks stay put for ever. Also, weeds root more easily in the mulch than in the rocks. I strongly suggest a weed barrier no matter what you put down. Saves a lot of labor on weeding.

      1. Does the weed barrier go all the way to the pool wall? Or did you leave a gap between the wall and barrier?

  4. My yard slopes down to where I have my pool. What is best to keep water from washing out the foundation of the pool area? I thought about putting edging around or make a retaining wall on the high side.

  5. My 27′ above ground is 37″ “in-gound” on one side. Is it okay to backfill it so its level with the ground? I should aslo add that it is only about 1-2 feet from the pool to the edge the installer dug out so a retaining wall wont work.I installed a french drain around it no i dont know what to do next??

  6. You say to start a foot out from the track of the bottom of the pool. What should go there? We are thinking of putting pavers around our pool. Would we just start a foot out and not have anything between the pavers and the pool?

    1. Good question…. I’m wondering the same. I was told to put a border of river rock around the pool for drainage when it rains, but I really have no idea. I’ve looked online, and river rock is SO expensive when I would need so many bags to go around my 27′ pool. I need a cheaper option.

      1. Expensive to get river rock in bags. We called a Landscape place and had a yard and 1/2 river rocks delivered for under 100.00 Bags would have been too expensive. Hope
        this helps

      1. Hi there. Did you end up completing this? I would really like to find something for the surround of our above ground pool so it isn’t such an eye sore!

  7. Hi, I need some help. Bought an above ground pool for my daughter, but I totally hate the way it looks. I dont want to just do rocks or something around the pool. I wanted to have a stair case added and a wood or trex facade with maybe a planter along the bottom so you wont see the pool walls, but the contractor said he didn’t know how to do the wood around the pool without drilling into it and voiding any warranties. Any suggestions?

    Thank you!


    1. I have seen people build a fence of lattice work around their pools to hide the walls. I don’t recommend attaching anything to the pool wall though.

    2. Most mulch decays overtime. Oxides given off by this decay can cause oxidation of aluminum parts of your on ground or semi in ground pool.
      A good example is pt lumber and it’s oxides causing premature rusting of
      Aluminum parts that come into contact with it.

  8. I have an above ground pool. My question is, they had to go 12″ into earth on one side of the pool. What do I back fill with? The dirt that was pushed aside? Not sure what to do.

  9. What is the best solar lights for on the deck ? I see motion detection ones and just regular ones.

        1. I am preparing to put up an 18 x 48 above ground pool, but I keep stalling because I am afraid there might be a leak in the liner, and if there is, how would I find it and what will I do? I live 35 miles from Lowes and HD, in a rural area, and would like to have on hand some patches or whatever is required to fix a hole, just in case. Also, is there a way to test for a hole or leak before installing or filling it? I would hate to have to take down and throw away.

          1. You have to get down and find the slit or hole. We use Gorrila Tape instead of the patch kit. Works in water and comes in white

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