1. Variation and texture. This is my personal idea of pool heaven. The simplicity of a small rectangle surrounded by greenery makes the space feel like a private room in the backyard. I've always had a thing for the tall, structured figures of cypress trees in any landscape. The formal and textured repetition of shrubs, cypress, and lavender gives this pool a Provencal or Tuscan feel.
2. Repetition and simplicity. Often the installation of a pool really mucks up the grounds. You don't have to wait years for plants and flowers to mature if you go for a more modernist approach. The simplicity of grass with a simple band of stone around the pool, coupled with the structured repetition of boxwoods, define the pool area of this home and yard.
Here, a more formal repetition with shrubs echoes the lines of decking. Spaces like this make me think of the same elements I learned while studying painting: line, proportion, perspective, repetition, scale, visual and tactile texture and pattern. All of these elements are important whether we're talking art, interior design or landscaping.
Ornamental grasses work well in rows and repeated plantings. A more formal and minimalist approach is to plant the same species of grass over and over again (also called mass plantings). There's nothing boring about the texture and pattern created by the seed heads, and the grasses that often change color with the seasons.
3. Naturalistic plantings and hardscaping. Here ornamental grasses are planted in clumps with different species and other plants. The pool and hardscaping are almost camouflaged into the natural landscape.
4. Formalist and minimal hardscaping. This sort of landscaping reminds me of minimalist artists who worked with form and line among the basic elements of the visual world. I love the pattern that the pavers create and the interlocking forms of the pool, steps and hot tub.
The repetition of rectangular pavers lead your eye along the pool toward the house.
5. Pergolas and pool houses. There's a grounding effect that any outbuilding or structure has on a landscape. Pergolas create a visual bridge and give you a sense of intimacy and shelter, even if it's only fleeting, since their open slatted roofs offer a bit of shade, but won't protect you from real weather.
Pergolas are wonderful places to grow vines and shade dining areas and pathways.
Pergolas are often seen coming off the back of houses in lieu of a screened-in porch. Porches with full roofs block more light than pergolas, with their slatted roofs. They also provide a nice transition between the pool and indoors.
My favorite kind of pool house still remains the shed or barn. Here it anchors one corner of the fence and yard and gives the eye something to focus on before wandering off, object to object, as if it were looking at a painting.
6. Sculpture and art. Don't feel like you have to relegate the sculpture garden to a different part of the property. Landscape around the pool with a sculpture garden to add a sense of meditative calm.