How to choose the best lawn (and mower) for near your pool
When choosing the right turfgrass for around your pool, there are a few extra things to consider. We'll explain them all, while weighing pool maintenance and lawn care considerations.
Please comment if you have any pointers we should add. We'll enjoy hearing your take and sharing your expertise will help other pool owners.
Pool Maintenance & Lawn Care
Lawn Care – Heat Transfer
Concrete is a heat sink and will warm up quicker than the lawn in summer. What does this mean to you?
- Grass next to concrete needs more watering, especially when it's first installed. Keep this in mind when installing irrigation.
- Choose a drought tolerant lawn, such as TifTuf Bermudagrass.
Lawn Care – Distance From Pool Water
Will you have a wide deck or area of concrete around your pool before the lawn starts? If so, you’ll likely not have a large amount of splashing, therefore there’s little concern about damage to your lawn from splashing chlorine or pool water.
However, if your lawn starts fairly close to the pool and is separated by just a short span of hardscaping you’ll want to keep in mind that splashing from the pool may cause damage to your lawn.
- If you see damage from chlorine or salt water, the best practice is to start flushing that from the lawn via irrigation. Basically, you're diluting the problem and this works very well (it also works well to flush dog urine from a lawn). Ben Copeland Jr., Super-Sod COO, reminds folks, "After a Saturday afternoon with the entire neighborhood practicing cannonballs remember to turn on your irrigation to wash off the salt or chlorine."
- Zoysiagrasses in general are known for their salt tolerance; they're a great choice in areas where salt water is a concern.
- TifTuf Bermudagrass is also salt tolerant.
Zenith Zoysia lawn with a modernistic pool coping and border. Photo snapped by Brandon Starnes, turfgrass expert at Super-Sod of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Pool Maintenance – Debris Entering the Pool
There's no way around it: mowed grass clippings can be thrown into the pool (depends on the mower and distance from the pool).
There are simple solutions:
- Make sure the hardscaping around the pool is as wide as possible. The wider it is, the less likely debris gets in the pool;
- Mow with the side discharge facing away from the pool;
- Use the bagger attachment on your mower to collect the grass clippings near the pool;
- The cleanest, quietest solution is to use a robotic lawn mower that mows the grass so gently that the minuscule clippings fall straight down - they aren’t thrown out the side of the mower and into the pool. Plus, while you swim and play your lawn will be in the process of being mowed, without drowning you out - there is no noise pollution for a robotic mower, it is almost silent.
Andrey Ryabyy, installation manager for Super-Sod Robotics team for the Carolinas, provided the header picture showing the Husqvarna Automower safely working next to a pool with a narrow coping.
All mowers are different so you will need to play around with yours to improve your technique. Personally, I think a robotic mower is the best solution.
How will you use your pool?
Think about how you use the pool. Everyday with children? Once in a while by yourself? Not often enough? Here are lifestyle pointers to consider.
- Pools in summer are high use areas: With all the pool-side use, there will be extra wear and tear on your lawn. Choose a turfgrass that can withstand the back and forth activity, possibly even to the point of wearing down. TifTuf Bermudagrass (linked to above) and Zenith and Zeon Zoysiagrasses can handle a lot of stomping and they grow back to fix any damage that may occur. In general, choose vigorous grasses (like TifTuf and Zenith) that spread via stolons and rhizomes because they have the ability to repair themselves.
- Concrete is a heat sink: It not only dries out the grass as previously explained, it can be hot on bare feet. However, lawns stay remarkably cool and are inviting to bare feet. Consider a simple pool coping so that the poolside play is on a lawn, rather than patio.
- Speaking of bare feet: Since most of us swim with our shoes off, keep in mind that Zoysia grass is the plushest grass around and it feels delightful on bare feet. There is no other grass that competes with the softness.
- Yet, bare feet pick up debris during poolside play: Plant matter can enter the pool on the bottom of feet. Hardscaping or a robotic mower minimize the amount of plant debris in a lawn. The mower simply chews up vegetation (including fallen tree leaves) into tiny little pieces that fall below the grass line and down into the root zone.
- Clean up pool toys: Plastic items like Slip-n-Slides left on a lawn are a well-known cause of lawn stress, so are plastic rafts and floats. Iris Ramirez, lawn expert at our Super-Sod of Cary store, cautions against leaving all big plastic items on the lawn, "Be very careful leaving pool inflatables and such on the lawn - they can also cause heat stress and destroy a lawn where they are left too long."
- Too busy working to enjoy a swim?: Back to those robotic mowers mentioned above. Adopt a lifestyle of relaxing in your pool while the mower does the work for you.
Zeon Zoysia lawn surrounding a pool near Atlanta, Georgia.
Aesthetic & other considerations
Even though a pool is not usually used in the winter, we get a lot of questions about year-round green color around pools. Due to concrete heat transfer to Tall Fescue in summer and the long length of the clippings, we don't recommend Tall Fescue around pools, even though it's green in winter. Have you noticed that Tall Fescue can look pretty rough in August, the time of year you're likely to be in your pool a lot?
Due to these three strikes against poolside Tall Fescue, we recommend overseeded TifTuf Bermuda instead. We recommend overseeding with perennial rye in the autumn, then maintaining it with a robotic lawn mower for best results through spring green up (otherwise you'll need to spray out the rye). That link explains all the ins and outs of the process.
TifTuf Bermudagrass overseeded with perennial ryegrass. Photo taken in the winter by Stephen Raiford, turfgrass expert at Super-Sod of Charlotte, North Carolina.
There are other considerations when choosing the best lawn for you, such as the amount of sun/shade surrounding your pool. We’ve created a sod selection tool to help you further weigh your choices.
Still need help deciding what type of lawn and mower are best for you? We're happy to help with further questions. Contact your local Super-Sod today.