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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Joshua Tree and Other Agaves Acceptable for Pool Area

Young joshua tree in desert landscape
Q. A visitor has told us that we need to remove our Joshua Tree and Agaves from around our swimming pool. The Joshua Tree is about 4’ from the edge of the pool and the Agaves are about 2’ from the edge. Do we have a problem with these plants trying to get into the pool water?

A. I tried to think of reasons why this person would tell you this and I cannot think of any.

I don't agree. These are very good choices close to a pool area. What is nice about plants such as these is that you can direct their root system with the location of your water supply. I suppose there could be cracks in the pool that would allow for leaks. However, most plants go after water which is the cleanest. If you apply drip irrigation to the sides of the plants away from the pool this will encourage their roots to grow in this direction.
American agave
Pool water is not good water for most plants and if they have a chance to take up better water they will. So keep your drip emitters or your sources of clean water on the side of the plants away from the pool. These types of plants survive on infrequent rain water so their roots are typically shallow and very efficient at scavenging for water close to the soil surface.
Water them with shallow irrigations, perhaps no more than a foot deep and don't do it very often. In Midsummer if you want to encourage growth water them every two to four weeks. If you want them to slow down, water them less often. Watch carefully for agave weevil attacking and killing primarily agaves and in particular American agave. I have posted information on their control in this blog. You can search for it by entering agave weevil in the search box.


  1. I wonder if its a distant ancestor of the cactus? It looks like an invasive tree, though doing no harm. I like it.

    -Oscar Valencia

  2. I just wanted to comment that we put up an above ground pool right next to a large joshua tree when we lived in Hesperia, California, and the tree was always dropping debris into our pool, so we had to clean the pool water more often than we would have had to otherwise. So in my opinion while other agaves might be ok near a pool, I personally don't think a joshua tree is a good idea. Posted by Xtremehort for Patti