Third Project: Delandscaping Pool Planters

The pool deck has an elevated waterfall spa with two planters on either side of the spa.  The previous owners had planted palm trees in them.  There’s plenty to dislike about this setup, at least in my eyes.

Because of the difference in sun exposure, the trees grew at different rates, so that was unappealing.  The trees would grow and shed their fronds and bark, making a mess.  The rocks in the planters would develop weeds that needed maintenance.  And the worst part of all, when you needed to pressure wash the deck, the planters would spew stones and dirt all over the place unless you were extremely precise with the pressure wand.

For all these reasons, I wanted those trees gone.  As far as what will be in their place, I’m leaving my options pretty open.  It may be plants (potted of course), it may be fountains, it may be “leapfrog fountains”, or maybe grass (for the cat to enjoy), or it may just not be anything.  The first step is getting those trees gone and covering the hole.

The plan for the hole is kind of an outgrowth from the leapfrog fountain idea.  I wanted to place a cover over the openings with a pass-through rubber loop mat, the kind used at entryways and sometimes on pool decks.  They aren’t all that cheap.  Initially, I was looking at about $300 for two mats.  Then I determined I could get one larger mat and cut it in half.  That brought the price down to $200.  Recently, I saw a blue mat in the size I needed for under $80, so I bought it right away.

By the time I ordered the mat, I had mostly removed the rocks and dug out the trees.  The digging bar was invaluable and continues to be the best tool I have ever purchased.  I had also tried and failed at making various soil sifting devices until I broke down and bought the standard hardware mesh.  I also held off on pressure washing the deck until I had the mat in place.  It would be a total disaster to be spraying water without the stones in the planter.  I actually purchased a second electric pressure washer so the GF and I can double-team on cleaning tasks.  Since the deck needs done, as well as the driveway and walkway, this should save us plenty of time.

As far as the planter, my plan is to bury 5-gallon buckets in the holes and then cover them with the mat.  This keeps my options open to install something under the surface, whether it be a potted tree or a fountain or even secret storage.  I have some Lowes buckets with lids ready to go.  I’ll have to cut the bottoms of the buckets to provide drainage.

The end result fell pretty short of what I had envisioned in my mind.  But it will have to do for now until I can come up with a better idea.  One thing that is nice is being able to walk around the area without palm fronds in the way.

This is what I started with:


Notice how the one palm is just dead.  That was a recent thing I caused when I trimmed it back without regard.


Then I started getting the rocks out


Using the digging bar, I eventually ended up getting the trees out and was left with a couple of holes.  Looks at the size difference between the two trees.



I dug out the holes to hold the buckets.  The bucket to be planted is on the left, with its bottom cut out.


Then buried the buckets


I brought the mat out and cut it to size.  This is probably where I failed to make the concept presentable.  The mat was difficult to cut accurately and the planter was not a uniform size.  This resulted in a mat that didn’t fit the hole perfectly.  Additionally, it was difficult to get a nice, smooth surface with the bucket and ground.

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I’ve gone back and tried to fix the fit of the mat in the planters and probably will continue to tweak it a few more times to make it better, but I‘m not convinced it’s ever going to be the way I expected it to be.


And after pressure washing:


So, I’ll put his project behind me and plan for better things in the future.