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Take note of the natural attributes of your site.  Assess both the good and bad features of your site.  Beautiful existing trees to be highlighted, a distant view to be framed and incorporated into the features of your gardens, an unattractive garage or air conditioning unit or fence to be screened or hidden are examples of features to be assessed. Locate your pool – Figure out the best location for your pool, and also note how the pool will appear from the interior of your home, looking outwards.  Allow enough room around the pool for the pool coping and decking, your feature gardens, any required fencing and the service and equipment area for the pool and spa. Privacy – Trees, shrubs and hedges can be located to create privacy in an informal manner around the pool area. If planting is not enough to give the privacy required, fencing or screening may also need to be installed.  Screening can also be used to block winds and create a warmer micro-climate around the pool. Creating Focal Points – If your pool is visible from inside your home, you will want the gardens to serve as a backdrop to the pool, to allow attention to be focused on the pool. Ensure you select plants that bloom in the prime summer months when you will be spending most of your time around the pool.  If the gardens can be seen all year long then add trees, shrubs and perennials that will provide visual interest in the spring, fall and winter months.  Small specimen trees with up-lighting can also provide interesting  night-time viewing. Proper Plant Selection – All plant material should be planted far enough away to ensure it does not shed debris into the pool area. Pine cones, messy branches, berries, seedpods… think of the characteristics of the plants you are considering.  Good plant selection can be pleasurable to all the senses; in addition to beautiful seasonal color you can also consider planting fragrant plants along the pool pools edge; allowing the smell of lavender, roses or herbs can add to your relaxing experience.  The texture of the plants is another important consideration as some plants have large coarse leaves and others have petite and delicate foliage.  Creating a mix of textures as well as leaf and flower color adds depth and complexity to the planting. Also plan on selecting plants which have winter interest.  Evergreens,  plants with colorful seeds and berries, and attractive shape and bark will all add year round interest in your garden. Finishing Touches – Pots and urns with seasonal plantings can create special spaces around the pool.  Group the planters together to allow ease of watering, or install drip irrigation for less hand watering.  An irrigation system throughout the site will save time and effort in watering your new gardens. Select site furnishings with the same care as you have taken with the rest of your design.  There are so many types of outdoor furniture, you can find what you need to enhance the look of your backyard and have comfortable dining tables, chairs and loungers in your material of choice. Often, a piece of art or sculpture in the garden can be a delightful surprise that can add the finishing touch to an entire area.  Select and locate sculpture that is attractive and visible throughout the winter season, to add interest. Creating a wonderful backyard resort for you and your family requires a great deal of thought  and design development.  A landscape architect can work through this process with you, guiding your choices to create a pool and spa area which is a perfect melding of your wishes and desires.  If you plan on creating your own oasis, take the time to plan carefully to ensure you get the results you want; a backyard that both soothes and entertains, and is a wonderful addition to your home, all through the year.