Saturday, October 6, 2007

Gardening case study 2 - Planning a garden with a swimming pool

Pat and Robert Lariccio run a clothing store, partly operated from their home, which is in a warm, sub-tropical climate. They have two children aged 10 and 13 and, although they love the idea of a garden, have irregular hours to spend on maintenance.

The Lariccios have just had a pool installed, both for the children to play in and because they would like to entertain friends and business associates on the poolside patio. They want to landscape the area using plants that will disguise the raw fencing, tolerate being splashed occasionally with pool water, and create a relaxed, summery look. They do not want plants that will cast shade on the pool or continually litter it with leaves or debris. Neither Pat nor Robert is an experienced gardener, and they have limited plant knowledge. They are more interested in a pleasing finished result than in a showcase of plants that would take time and advanced gardening skills to maintain.

The Old Garden
Forming a 'U' shape around the pool, the beds vary in width from a little over 1 m to about 4 m. There are some existing palms, including two large Canary Island date palms right against the fence. These were probably bird-sown; they must be removed, or they will grow until they dislodge the fence and damage the retaining wall.

Deciding Their Priorities

How much time?
An average of 1 hour per week.

Essential ingredients?
Plants that are lush and colorful in summer and green all year. Must be able to withstand splashing and must not be spiky or invasive. Easy care.

Likes and dislikes?
They like palms, fragrant flowers and leafy plants with an elegant habit. They don't feel confident about plants with special pruning or other needs. They don't want to have to spray regularly or have any timetabled tasks.

The New Garden
Several varieties are planted in mass groupings. None will overhang or shade the pool. The narrow beds are suited to an automatic watering system.

Informal Groups
Mix of white-flowered gaura and fountain grass softens the line of the pool fence and blooms for months.

Minimal maintenance
The frangipani, palms, begonias, calathea, ctenanthe, impatiens, lollipop plant, maranta, zebra plant and evolvulus need only a spring and summer feeding and regular watering.

The slender bangalow and bamboo palms, underplanted with pygmy date palms, give the pool a tropical backdrop; they have non-invasive roots and do not cause litter.

Tropical perennials such as calathea, ctenanthe and maranta thrive under palms. Blue-flowered evolvulus cascades down retaining walls.

Bright Boundary
The fence is disguised by tall members of the ginger family -hedychium and dichorisandra - and canna lilies. No problems with pool water.

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