Q. I have a pool that is being built and we're at the final stages of it being done. We are trying to create a tropical theme around the pool and most tropical plants don't do well in the desert. Do you have any suggestions?
A. There is no reason you cannot have a tropical or Hawaiian theme around your pool using either desert plants or plants that thrive in our climate. There are dozens of of desert plants that resemble tropical plants and even some plants that grow easily in both climates.
Let me give you a list of some plant materials. There are so many to pick from that will fit into this theme. This just came off of the top of my head.
Some of the tropical look has to do with planting density. This area should be densely planted and use at least plants from three different size categories. Use more size categories if it's a larger area.
Be careful of focal points. Don't have too many of them but use plant color or dramatic changes in plant texture to pull the eye to a focal point. The focal point can be a waterfall, water feature, spa area, entry/exit of from the pool, etc. designing an area should make use of continuity and rhythm through plant repetition this is usually done through plant texture or color.
There are a few landscape architects and designers who read my blog. I am neither. Perhaps they will chime in with some pointers as well.Don't be shy and please let readers know who you are and how to get a hold of you.
Mesquite. Any of the Mesquite trees look tropical.
Acacia, some of the smaller Acacia
Windmill Palm, Mediterranean fan palm
desert bird of paradise
Rose of Sharon (hibiscus)
Nandina or heavenly bamboo
Bougainvillea (freezes back each year)
Myoporum, sometimes called Australian Racer
Hearts and Flowers
Hen and chicks
Red Hot Poker
Vinca or periwinkle