If you’ve read my previous articles, you know that there are certain plants that act as natural pest control. So far, I have mostly focused on repelling bugs inside the house, but now I’m going to turn to backyard pest control.
My house came with a large in ground swimming pool. It’s really nice, but it could use some landscaping around the edges to really make it look and feel more inviting.
Aside from making the pool area more aesthetically pleasing, I want to repel bugs away from the pool. Nothing ruins a relaxing day around the pool more than getting eaten by mosquitoes or finding a spider crawling on you! Not to mention having to skim dead bugs off of the surface of the water is no fun.
So, this summer I set some time aside to work on some poolside landscaping to repel mosquitoes and other insects away from the pool area.
The before pictures
The pool was surrounded by concrete and rocks. Grass and weeds started growing through the rocks last summer and had gotten out of control.
Insect Repelling Plants
In my quest to repel insects from the pool area, I made a list of plants to incorporate in my pool landscaping.
Chrysanthemums repel: Ants, fleas, Japanese beetles, silverfish, spider mites, ticks
Citronella repels: Mosquitoes
Lavender repels: Ants, flies, mosquitoes, moths, spiders
Lemongrass repels: Mosquitoes
Marigolds repel: Ants, mosquitoes, whiteflies
Peppermint repels: Ants, flies, spiders
The bugs I find around my pool the most are mosquitoes, ants, spiders, and red spider mites, so the list of plants above should really help me out in repelling these insects.
A few more plants that I could have used to repel bugs are basil, lemon balm, and rosemary.
What else am I planting?
Not every plant I’m using for landscaping is going to be for repelling purposes. I want it to look nice too, maybe even a bit tropical.
I will also be using banana trees, majesty palm trees, bird of paradise, citrus trees (orange, tangerine, and lemon), cornstalk dracaena, hostas, petunias, and elijah blue fescue.
Most of these are not hardy enough to withstand the harsh winters here in Michigan, so those that aren’t will stay in pots and be moved in the house for winter.
I have had my citrus trees for a couple of years now and they have gotten to the point where my orange tree is covered in little tiny oranges and the plant itself looks great. I’m excited to have this sitting out by the pool and watch the fruit grow!
Plotting out the landscaping layout
My original plan was to have my drought tolerant plants, lavender and elijah blue fescue, spaced out along the opposite side of the pool from my garage. It’s hard to reach a hose around or across the pool, so I thought that would be most convenient, plus it would create a nice lavender barrier along one of the long sides of the pool with the little balls of blue/green grass spaced in between for accents.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out the way I planned. We started digging and found that the previous homeowners have put layers and layers of garden fabric and rocks along that side – we’re talking at least 3 separate layers of rocks. It’s a really inconvenient place to dig too, about 12” of width directly in between cement and a chain link fence.
The revised plan ended up being to spread pots of marigolds along that side. Don’t mind the mix-match of pots, I used what I had on hand to save a little money. Maybe next year I will get some matching pots or change up the landscaping on this side somehow.
Along the other long side that butts up next to the garage, we planted mums and hostas in the ground. Luckily, there was only one layer of rocks on that side! The garage provides shade in the evening, which is nice for the hostas after getting full sun in the morning.
My outside water for the backyard and pool is in the center of the garage siding, so we decided to put a pot of citronella on each side. The pots will help keep the hose from dragging through the mulch and the citronella should keep the mosquitoes away.
I had my potted banana trees and bird of paradise in the center of the back of the pool for a while, where the diving board would go if I had one. The bird of paradise leaves ended up curling a lot in this location, so I tried moving them to an area that gets some evening shade and they seem to be happier in that location.
The banana trees stayed at the back of the pool and the baby trees grew big enough while we were working on the landscaping that we were able to separate them into three pots.
In the back corners of the pool fence, we used landscaping blocks to create raised gardens that include the lavender, elijah blue fescue, more marigolds, petunias, and lemongrass.
My majesty palm trees and my citrus trees are in the front two corners, next to the deck. I wanted the majesty palms up front to create a little extra privacy from the closer neighboring houses.
The perimeter was completed with cedar mulch to make everything pop and hopefully prevent weeds from growing through. You can see from the “before” pictures that the weeds and grass had really gotten out of hand inside the pool fence.
I did use a landscaping fabric beneath the cedar mulch for extra protection. The one that I used is rated highly for plant health and weed control and comes with a 20 year warranty.
Lastly, when my parents went shopping with me to help bring bags of soil and mulch back to my house, my dad spotted these cornstalk dracaena in the garden section and couldn’t help but buy two of them. We put one on each side of the gate entering the pool fence.
I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to fit all of these potted trees in my house when fall rolls around, but I guess I will have to figure that out. Having them around the pool during the summer is certainly worth making space for them later on.
I ended up putting my potted peppermint next to the back door of my house to try to keep the spiders from coming near or inside the door. Note that the peppermint is in a pot because it will spread vigorously and take over if it is planted in the ground.
Most of the plants that I incorporated in my poolside landscaping this year were small starter plants, so not all of them fully bloomed this year. However, they are mostly perennials, so I am expecting more blooms next year.
I did see a decrease in the number of insects around the pool. In previous years, there were a lot of ants, red spider mites, and spiders. This year, I only saw a few of each around the pool. Not bad!
I didn’t see any earwigs or box elder bugs around the pool this year at all.
As far as mosquitoes go, we had a lot of rain this year, making it a terrible year for mosquitoes. While the new plants didn’t stop 100% of the mosquitoes from coming around the pool, it did seem to help and when the plants reach full bloom, things should be much better.
As I am posting this, it is reaching the end of summer and the tiny little mums we planted have grown to a great size and are starting to produce more flowers.
I actually didn’t know what color flowers they would have when I bought them, but it looks like I got two each of pink and yellow. I’m excited to watch them bloom this fall.
What bugs are bugging you?
Do you have a bug problem keeping you from enjoying your yard? There are several varieties of plants that can help repel different kinds of bugs. Try planting some of these so you can finally enjoy your space. You can also control your yard by ensuring you don’t have standing water or tall grass for bugs to thrive in.