6 Pool Landscaping Tips On A Budget

Picture this: you just spent a small fortune on a pool for your backyard. Maybe you got a deck or a patio built, too. Now, it’s finally time to decorate, but your wallet can’t take it anymore.

You’re not alone. We get it. Pools are expensive. Whether it’s above ground or in-ground, the up front cost as well as maintenance and equipment repair of a pool nowadays is more than many can afford. Adding the landscaping decorations to make it nice and pretty seems like adding insult to injury.

Here’s the good news: pool landscaping doesn’t have to break the bank. Even a little goes a long way toward marrying the whole thing together – the pool itself, the poolside furniture, the nature of your backyard, and of course, your house.

There are plenty of cost-effective design options to dress up, beautify, and turn your pool into the relaxing oasis you desire.

This article will tell you what to expect when budgeting your pool’s landscaping, cost breakdowns, as well as a whole host of tips to landscaping your backyard pool area on a budget.

How much does it cost to landscape around a pool?

Most other articles are going to tell you, “Oh, it varies on a number of factors.” That’s because it does.

The cost of goods and services varies drastically based on your geographical location, what kind of material you want, the size of your pool, and external economic factors  like the price of labor and raw materials.

That said, for those of you looking for a number, expect your landscaping to cost anywhere between $2,000 and $10,000. That’s some basic plants, mulch, and simple gardening accessories.

If you want to get more elaborate – a complete outdoor living area with a built-in kitchen, seating area, and lighting – you’re looking at upwards of $20,000. Likely more than you spent on the pool.

As always, get a quote from a local landscaping business. They’ll give you a more accurate estimate of the cost based on your area, backyard, and the design you want.

How can you plan your pool’s budget?

Planning the budget for a pool and its landscaping is a multi-step process:

  1. Determine the type of pool: The first step is to determine the pool design you want, as each type comes with different costs and benefits.
  2. Get quotes from multiple contractors: Get quotes from several contractors for both the pool and the landscaping. Make sure the quotes include the costs for materials, labor, and permits.
  3. Set a budget: Based on the quotes and your financial situation, set a budget for the pool and landscaping. Be sure to allocate a portion of the budget for unexpected expenses. However, if you want to save up on your expenses and you’re going to do it yourself, just make sure to buy the right materials for your upgrades. For example, switching up from a wooden floor to trex select boards for your pool deck to save up on maintenance and have better sustainability.
  1. Prioritize expenses: Decide which expenses are most important to you, such as a certain type of pool or specific landscaping features. You may need to adjust your budget or make compromises if the costs exceed your budget.
  2. Consider financing options: If you need additional funding, consider financing options such as a personal loan or home equity loan. Make sure you understand the terms and interest rates before choosing a financing option.
  3. Plan for ongoing expenses: Don’t forget to include ongoing expenses such as pool maintenance and landscaping maintenance in your budget. This will help ensure that you have enough funds for these expenses in the future.


Type of Pool

If you’re economically inclined to decorate the area around your pool, you’re probably dealing with an in-ground pool.

No shade to folks with above ground pools, but the clientele simply have different priorities. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to discuss the costs of various in-ground pool options.


Price range: $50,000-$150,000


  • Customizable design options
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Versatile in terms of shape and size


  • Long construction time (6-12 months)
  • High upfront cost
  • Requires regular maintenance and resurfacing

Far and away the most expensive option, you’re paying primarily for two things: flexibility and durability. You can make a concrete pool in whatever freeform shape your yard allows for.


Price range: $20,000-$60,000


  • Quick installation
  • Inexpensive compared to other types
  • Low maintenance


  • Limited design options
  • Less durable than concrete or fiberglass
  • Can develop wrinkles over time

The cheapest option of the bunch, you pay for what you get. The comparably lower durability means your pool won’t last as long and you might end up paying more for repairs than if you bit the bullet and paid for either a concrete or a fiberglass pool.


Price range: $35,000-$100,000


  • Quick installation
  • Low maintenance
  • Durable and long-lasting


  • Limited design options
  • Costlier than vinyl pools
  • Difficult to repair if damaged

The best of both worlds, fiberglass pools sit at a happy medium. You get a lot of bang for your buck here in terms of durability to price ratio. The only real downside is that you’re limited to select factory molds, but new models come out regularly so you’ve got plenty of options.

Stone Walkways

To make your pool more inviting and accessible, consider incorporating a stone walkway from your house or patio to your pool. 

To do it cheaply, use inexpensive materials such as concrete pavers or cobblestones ($10 to $30 per square foot) instead of high-end stone such as granite.

Have a clear design plan; know exactly where you’re going to place the stones before you start to avoid making costly mistakes. If you’re capable, do the labor yourself to spare yourself from hiring a contractor.


Garden Plants

Adding plants to the pool area can provide natural shade, beauty, and colors to your backyard. Consider planting trees, shrubs, and flowers in pots or in the ground. The cost of plants depends on the type and size of the plants, but on average, you can expect to spend $20 to $50 per plant. 

Look for plants on sale or buy them in bulk!

String Lighting

Outdoor string lights can create a warm and inviting atmosphere in your backyard. They can be hung above the pool area, wrapped around trees, or strung along the fence. Prices for string lights range from $10 to $100 or more, depending on the type of lights and their quality.

Be sure to look for energy efficient LED lights to save on your electricity bill.


Fireplaces add light and life to any outdoor area – one would make a fantastic pairing with your new pool. Endless summers of getting wet and drying off in front of the fire; nostalgic bliss.

You can get a solid fireplace from a homegoods or hardware store or even Amazon for a few hundred dollars. Unless you have a ready supply of stones and rocks in your backyard, doing it yourself here is likely going to be a more expensive option.

Privacy Walls

If you live close to your neighbors or just want some bonus privacy and relaxation, you’ll probably want some sort of wall to seclude your pool area.

There are tons of options: fences, trellises covered with climbing plants, pergolas, fast-growing trees, and hedges are all great options for privacy screens. Artificial options are going to be cheaper and easier to maintain over time as opposed to something like bamboo or ivy, which you’ll have to trim and treat as it grows.

If your goal is saving money above all else…

Skip the add ons. Stick to a simple design. To keep your costs down, you’ll need to forego all the bells and whistles. 

  • Minimize hardscaping: Keep the amount of hardscaping, such as patios, walkways, and retaining walls, to a minimum.
  • Use simple lighting: Choose simple and functional lighting, such as LED pool lights or landscape lighting, rather than elaborate and expensive lighting systems.
  • Keep plantings simple: Use a limited number of low-maintenance plants rather than a complex garden design.
  • Avoid special features: Skip special features, such as waterfalls, fountains, and fire pits, which can be costly to install and maintain.
  • DIY when possible: Do as much of the work yourself as possible, such as planting, installing lighting, and laying pavers, to save on labor costs.

Get out there and do it

Pools already cost an arm and a leg. The landscaping and decorations don’t have to be so expensive – clearly, there are opportunities to save money while still creating a cozy and beautiful backyard.

If you’ve been holding off, start with just one thing today. Maybe it’s string lights, maybe it’s a potted plant. Just one element can go a long way towards making your backyard feel more like home.