Outdoor Pool Area Ideas

10 beautiful pool landscaping ideas that radiate resort vibes

Pool landscape design is just as important as your home’s interiors. Here’s how to create a dreamy pool area.
Coastal all white home exterior with sage green umbrella, sun lounger and tiled swimming poolPhotography: Louise Roche / Styling: Kylie Jackes

If you’re one of the three million Australians (give or take) with a swimming pool at home, consider yourself lucky. A private backyard pool can make you feel like you’re on holiday all the time — with a cool, aquamarine oasis at arm’s length whenever you feel like a dip.

Simply looking at a body of water, such as a pool, can give you a genuine mental health boost. Research shows that access to ‘blue spaces’ (aquatic environments) can even help prevent disease and support people with chronic health conditions. If you’ve ever heard the squeals of joy from children splashing in a pool, you also know that it provides hours of (screen-free) entertainment for families. You just can’t underestimate the power of the humble backyard pool.

But to truly capitalise on your pool, you need to consider the landscape design of your pool area holistically. Gone are the days of popping an above-ground pool next to the Hills hoist and filling it with water from the hose. Australians are discerning homeowners, and we’re increasingly paying just as much attention to backyard and pool design as our interiors and house renovations.

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best pool landscaping ideas from Home Beautiful to help you create a resort-like pool area. Just add water!      

1. Put your pool in the centre of your home

This pool and pool cabana in Paradise Point, designed by former Block contestants and twins, Alisa and Lysandra Fraser, is the heart of this home. It’s conveniently located between the living room and a bedroom wing, and opposite a courtyard and home office — so it can be viewed and accessed from several spots.

Alisa and Lysandra pool cabana pool landscaping ideas
Strelitzia (bird of paradise) frames the pool cabana overlooking this central pool, at a home designed by The Design Duo, Alisa and Lysandra. (Image: Courtesy of Alisa & Lysandra)

The azure beauty below, by Sundollar Pools, is also flanked by an American coastal farmhouse-inspired home on the Gold Coast. Owner James relishes spending afternoons with the kids in the pool.

swimming pool with wooden deck and surrounding pool landscaping ideas
Timber decking adds warmth and texture to this otherwise whitewashed pool area. (Photography: Louise Roche / Stylist: Kylie Jackes)

2. Reserve space for poolside lounging

For a pool landscaping idea that channels a Slim Aarons photograph, carve out a poolside area that’s perfect for sipping cocktails (or mocktails). This dreamy poolside in Brisbane ticks all the boxes. “Many of our family and friends comment that they feel really relaxed here and don’t want to leave,” says owner Rebecca. 

With a bigger backyard to play with, compared to that of her previous homes, Rebecca and her husband Matthew, a plumber, built a large pool with ample alfresco space. To imbue a party vibe, they added festoon lights, Uniqwa outdoor furniture and a retro umbrella from Business & Pleasure Co.

Outdoor pool landscaping ideas abound with wicker style armchairs and an umbrella.
A wall of breeze blocks gives this pool a Palm Springs feel, with an oversized umbrella and outdoor armchairs completing the look. (Photography: Mindi Cooke / Styling: Kylie Jackes)

3. Consider a fully tiled pool

A tiled pool is the epitome of luxury. The pool at this renovated 1970s Queensland cottage was updated with Sukabumi stone tiles.

“They were expensive to install as they had to be laid individually,” explains owner Cinnamon, a ceramicist at Andclay.co. “But I love the moodiness of the natural green and the imperfection of the natural stone.” The poolside furniture was sourced from Bunnings.

Artist Cinnamon in the white curtained pool cabana and brilliant pool landscaping ideas.
The day bed, which dog Rupert thinks is his bed, appears to float above the swimming pool. Hanging plant dichondra silver falls adds a splash of greenery to the pool landscaping. (Photography: Mindi Cooke / Styling: Tahn Scoon)

4. Make the most of the pool you’ve got

If you’ve inherited a property with a 1980s kidney-shaped pool or a pool in a suboptimal spot in the backyard, it’s tempting to demolish it or fill it in, and start again — particularly if you’re embarking on a full-scale reno. But that’s a costly exercise.

For the retired owners of this Sunshine Coast hinterland house, the existing pool, surrounded by tropical gardens, was considered a bonus. 

Ageing swimming pools can be updated and modernised with a decorative waterline tile, new coping, streamlined glass pool fencing or a water feature and of course, fresh planting.

A swimming pool surrounded by palm trees and tropical plants.
You don’t have to live with the pool design you’ve inherited. Easy updates such as new plantings and modern coping or tiles will bring it into the 2020s.  (Photography: Louise Roche / Styling: Kylie Jackes)

5. Throw some shade over your pool with an awning

The western beachside suburbs of Adelaide can get scorching hot, but Alisa Fraser, one half of The Design Duo twins, came up with the perfect solution for enjoying her pool —regardless of the UV.  

She put a Luxaflex retractable awning above the pool, so the kids can splash with abandon while staying protected from the westerly sun. Enveloping the space is a DecoBatten wall, which seamlessly connects to a cabana — another winning landscaping idea.

Modern outdoor pool landscaping ideas with overhanging shade cloth.
‘Snowflake’ mosaic tiles from Beaumont Tiles, Satara outdoor furniture and glass pool fencing round out Alisa’s pool and alfresco area. (Photography: Jenah Piwanski)

6. Make a statement with mosaic pool tiles

Hotels and resorts do it, so why can’t you? Writing a message or illustrating something meaningful in mosaic tiles is one way to make your pool feel more personal and luxe.

The word ‘cove’ has been etched out on the floor of the pool-bar zone in this backyard pool. “We wanted to create the feeling that you’re by the pool in Bali, rather than suburban Brisbane and I think we’ve really captured that relaxed feel,” says owner Ashley, of her tropical home

A resort-style pool and white pool loungers.
“In summer the kids live in the pool, shower outside before putting on their pyjamas and we’ll eat outdoors most nights,” says homeowner Ashley. “To us it feels like we’re at a tropical resort.”  (Photography: Louise Roche / Styling: Kylie Jackes)

7. Your pool can double as a water feature

It’s de rigueur to position a swimming pool near the living room, but pool views will enhance any room in the house — such as this spa-like bathroom, below. A lap pool might stretch across several viewpoints, meaning everyone in the family can get a dopamine hit every morning.

Keep in mind that for safety reasons, any doors or windows that could open directly to a pool will need to be permanently closed or inoperable.

Boosting the oasis-like pool design is a lush vertical garden wall, with a variety of plants that are less likely to drop leaves into the water.

For pool landscaping ideas that work, consider how your pool will look from inside the home. ‘Water views’ make this double bathroom seriously luxurious. (Photography: Lisa Cohen)

8. Make your pool a perfect circle

It’s not always hip to be square. For a unique pool landscaping idea — and if space allows — consider a round pool, rather than the typical rectangular or lagoon shape. In the Byron Bay hinterland, interior designer Ali and her husband, Michael, a builder, dreamt up this spectacular circular pool and separate spa, executed by Flatley Pools.

A modern country style home with an outdoor pool and spa.
The saltwater pool and alfresco area, paved in Natural Bricks from Jatana Interiors, overlooks rolling hills and the distant Nightcap National Park. (Photography: Louise Roche / Styling: Kylie Jackes )

9. Be practical with your pool design

Naturally, the owners of a landscape design business would think pragmatically when constructing their own pool and garden. Stephanie and Jason, who run King’s Gardens & Pools, removed a dodgy 1980s pool from their Victorian property and replaced it with a showstopping infinity pool.

The infinity edge design of the pool acts like a skimmer that collects fallen leaves, negating the need for a pool cover. “The foliage moves over the edge and drops into the trough where the drain is,” says Jason. 

They also designed it so it would “disappear” into the landscape. “We didn’t want to see a pool when we looked out of the house – we wanted it to look like a pond or water feature.”

Infinity pool surrounded by gums and a stone planter.
Landscaping materials include blackbutt timber decking and Clancy natural sandstone cladding on the planter box.  (Photography: Simon Griffiths)

10. Beautify your pool area with a luscious lawn

There are pros and cons to planting grass around the perimeter of your pool, as per this majestic English-style pool and garden in Cape Town. It’s a cost-effective and aesthetic surface, is cool underfoot and is a convenient place for people to dry themselves and lounge on a towel, post-swim. However, lawn needs frequent mowing and can be affected by chlorine from swimming pools. Hot tip: some of the best varieties of turf for pool areas include Zoysia and Bermuda.

Garden and pool with mountains in background.
Note: this pool is in South Africa (with an awe-inspiring view of Table Mountain!), where pool fence laws may be different to those in Australia. Here, any pool, spa or water feature of at least 30cm depth must be enclosed by a barrier at least 120cm high. (Photography: Karl Rogers / Styling: Natalie Boruvka)

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