Disguising our backyard eyesore
January 12, 2014 3:22 AM   Subscribe

We have an above ground pool in our New England backyard. Can you help with strategies for hiding it?

We have a ton of backyard stuff to do so I'm not looking to dig holes for fence posts or anything, unless it seems like really the best option. The pool is surrounded currently by thick gravel on top of landscaping fabric to about 3' out around it (previous owners). I can't use anything too tall because the yard has enough shade, and it's pleasant when the pool is in the sun. Can't have anything that attracts birds or Japanese beetles. A bee or two is probably okay. I need to hide to 4' high.

I'm thinking maybe a bunch of wine barrels filled with short day lilies or something (but how do you keep a plant in a wine barrel alive long term?) Maybe some lattices propped up...somehow? Ornamental grasses in containers? Suck it up and pull up the landscaping fabric? Ask a bunch of deer to stand in front of it?

My fantasy would be some kind of ivy covering a scaffolding around it, but the landscaping fabric and gravel make that seem such a pain in the ass.

It's so ugly you guys. I know the advice will be to remove it but we have a five year old and we can't take her pool away, and plus, it saved our asses during the humid heat wave last July, when we didn't see a day under ninety for two weeks. I'm building a perennial garden back there and that pool really detracts from the pretty. (No offense, Mr. Pool.)

Zone 5a/5b.

Thanks folks.
posted by A Terrible Llama to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
posted by Thorzdad at 4:40 AM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Something like that. Staple some shade netting our clothes on it to make it more opaque. Our grow something up it. There are a lot of no dig instant fence styles out there.

Or grow a hedge, or a combo of both.
posted by wwax at 5:32 AM on January 12, 2014

You don't provide a picture (because the elevation and slope would be helpful to know) as well as the design/size of the pool. Decking is a great option. Even if you can't afford to wrap the entire pool, but the stairs/decking in the section that you see most from the house (or whatever view bugs you) If necessary you can use pool fencing for safety.

Otherwise you basically just have a bunch of bushes or shrubs or if you added in planters surrounding the thing. From past personal experience, these are much harder to keep looking nice.

The thing is - if you go with bushes or wine barrels - you still see the drab pool wall. Fencing or decking can completely transform the look.

Good luck!
posted by emjay at 5:45 AM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Are you trying to hide the poop or the gravel?
posted by reddot at 5:50 AM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Your fantasy probably would be kind of a pain in the ass to execute, but there are vines that grow well in containers (most helpful link I could find quickly, sure there's more out there), so it should, at least, be an achieveable pain-in-the-ass fantasy. It might take some time to get the results you're after, but if you installed some large containers and a lattice fence for vines to climb, I'd think you could get the effect you're after without tearing up the ground around the pool.
posted by EvaDestruction at 6:22 AM on January 12, 2014

The big box hardware store will have ready to use lattice sleeves, pieces of wood that have a channel in them for pre-made lattice panels. You can use them to frame around comparatively inexpensive 4x8 panels to make something sturdy enough to make a sort of fence with.

There's a this old house step by step instructional out there on making a lattice fence which is kind of snaz but you could do something with plain pressure treated lumber. The hardest thing in my experience was setting posts, but I grew up in a place with very rocky ground. If you can dig a 3' post hole without heavy machinery this could be a family weekend project.
posted by phearlez at 8:31 AM on January 12, 2014

In looking back at your question, can you be specific about what it means to hide it? Is the goal to disguise the presence of this thing or to deal with the fact that the outside of it is kind of ugly?

If it's the second why not consider approaches to just make it more appealing. You could buy a huge roll of burlap for around $100 and wrap the whole thing several times around. It'll degrade but you can hang plants and things off it and the color will match a garden well.
posted by phearlez at 8:37 AM on January 12, 2014

A classic or neutral tent.
posted by Kruger5 at 8:58 AM on January 12, 2014

Response by poster: Answers to questions:

I'm trying to hide the drab pool wall. It's a level area. I can't do bushes because I don't want to have to dig through the gravel and pull up the landscaping fabric to put them in, and also because eventually the pool will break and when it does, we won't repair it, it'll come down and be replaced by garden.

So I'm looking for temporary structures.

I'm not looking to do anything expensive. We have a deck surrounding part of it, but I don't want to build more because we're painting the house this spring and that's where our yearly home improvement money is going, and also, we have a certain ambivalence about the pool.

I don't care about hiding it in winter as much. More in the summer, when everything otherwise looks nice.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:30 AM on January 12, 2014

Response by poster: I'm now considering building a series of cedar containers and planting some kind of non-seedy ornamental grass.

The pool is 20' long, in answer to another question. Parts are hidden, or will be, by the garden that sits next to it in the summer.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:33 AM on January 12, 2014

Best answer: I'd think about doing a bamboo surround, plus attractive garden stones (or combination of different garden stones in a pattern) or zen garden effect around it, and a few nice large, hardy potted plants that work outdoors for your zone. (Check out what nice things the neighbors are growing successfully in pots.)
posted by taz at 11:05 AM on January 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

This probably goes without saying but I'll say it anyway: if you put containers or trellis near the pool, please make absolutely certain these things do not enable your 5-year-old to climb up into the pool.
posted by evilmomlady at 3:13 PM on January 12, 2014

Seconding evilmomlady... if there is NO fence whatsoever between your 5-year-old and the pool - or the neighborhood-at-large and the pool - you might want to reconsider the fence.

As for wine barrels, my parents are successfully growing: roses, strawberries, day lily, oriental lily, daffodils, tulips, other random bulb-flowers that I don't know what they are, and a variety of not-root vegetables appropriate for their area. I *think* they have iris, too. Biggest problem I see with wine-barrels is the cost of the barrels, really. And how heavy they would be to move if/when you're ready. Other things would be cheaper, and possibly more easily portable.
posted by stormyteal at 4:43 PM on January 12, 2014

Do you WANT the pool? If you don't, dismantle it and cover with appropriate grass or ground cover.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:03 AM on January 13, 2014

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