Traveling in the Netherlands, Arlington landscape designer Tom Mannion was fascinated by potted plants installed inside swimming pools. Backyard pools tend to look sterile, Mannion says; using bog plants in the water makes it look lush. In his design for this McLean garden, yellow flag irises fill pots in two corners of the “lazy L” pool and all corners of the square fishpond next to it. The pool’s chlorine, which guards against algae and mosquito breeding, is less concentrated than in tap water, so it doesn’t harm plants; the pond has no chemicals, but the fish devour mosquitoes and their eggs. The soil in the pots stays put because it’s mulched with stones. Around the square pond, a rain garden catches stormwater from the house and terrace. It’s planted with panicum—an ornamental grass that loves wet and dry soil—as well as hibiscus and Virginia sweetspire.
In the pool’s waterfall, a metal piece makes it look as though the water is pouring directly from the stone wall. Along this part of the pool, plantings include hydrangeas and nandina, sometimes called heavenly bamboo.