With pool season creeping up on us ever so slowly, lawn care season is doing the same thing. Soon, you will be forced to choose between getting into the pool or mowing the lawn and trimming hedges. Of course, no one really wants to mow the lawn or trim hedges, so we choose to get in the pool and have someone else do the lawn care for us.
Hiring a lawn care service brings a slightly different challenge – especially for pool owners. When you mow the lawn or do any type of yard work, you know what needs to be done and how to do it specifically to keep anything out of the pool or from damaging pool walls, covers or equipment.
Hiring a Lawn Care Company
Finding a lawn care company that has experience caring for lawns that surround inground and above ground pools can be harder than you think, so we’re going to go over a few ideas on what to watch for with a lawn care service along with things you can do to help.
The first thing you should do when calling a service to care for your lawn is ask them if they have any experience dealing with yards surrounding any type of pool. If they do, then ask how they handle NOT getting any lawn clippings or debris in your pool, and what they do if it happens. If they say that grass blades in the pool is your problem, you might want to say thanks, and move to the next company.
There are some companies that clean your pool and take care of the lawn as well. These companies should be able to say, with some detail, how they manage keeping your pool free of lawn and yard debris and how they will mitigate the mess if one happens. In fact, if you are lucky enough to have one of these dual-purpose services near you, there’s a good chance they will care for your lawn and then clean your pool while you sip lemonade in the shade watching.
Laying the Groundwork
Whatever lawn care service you choose, don’t be afraid to tell them how you normally manage the grass and other lawn features around or near your pool. Doing this helps reinforce your expectations of the workers being careful to not make a mess of your pool along with giving them ideas on how to best manage the work for your pool.
The main thing you will want to explain is the more manual, machine-free work around the pool and water, the less chance of grass, leaves and anything else getting in to your water. Instead of a leaf blower, a good rake may be better near the pool. And lawn mowers that bag leaf clippings reduce the chance of “mow and blow” problems.
Despite all the care in the world, it’s inevitable some grass or other yard waste will find its way into your pool. One thing you can do is to make sure your pool filter is running, skimming grass blades before they sink to the bottom of the pool. Grass seems harmless, but it could be adding phosphates from fertilizer into your pool water, which triggers prolific algae growth, and consuming your pool chlorine.
If you have an inground pool, you will want to pay special attention to how much fertilizer your lawn care service uses and how and where they apply fertilizer. Excess fertilizer causes run-off that finds its way into storm drains, streams, lakes, and often (gasp!) your inground pool. Most fertilizers contain phosphorous and nitrogen which will wreak havoc on your pool chemical levels and deplete oxygen in your pool water. When this happens, be prepared for serious battles with cloudy water and algae.
For above ground pools, the challenges are slightly different. Grass and leaves have a harder time getting into your pool, but the thing your lawn care service needs to watch out for is small debris in the yard, like landscaping stones or even short, thick chunks of branches or chunky cedar mulch. When a mower finds such items in the yard, these often becomes a projectile. If you’re unlucky enough for a stone to be tossed in the direction of the pool, if it doesn’t put a hole in the wall, it will certainly give the wall an unsightly dent.
There are other things you can do to help keep yard waste out of your pool when a lawn service comes in. The best thing is to make sure any grass or lawn is about two to three feet away from the pool. It takes some planning, but having a generous walkway around your pool area will help a great deal in keeping grass clippings from blowing into your pool.
Mulch around the Pool?
Landscapers love mulching, and mulch around pools looks pretty, but even small amounts of mulch washing into your pool can lead to big problems. Aside from the phosphates and organic material, some mulches are made from treated lumber or laminates made of nasty chemicals that can throw your pool chemistry levels off.
And don't get me started on mulching around the pool equipment. Not a good idea either, because mulch traps moisture and is very acidic. The result is an acidic humidity that can damage steel, rubber, motors, and circuit boards used on your pool equipment. Gravel or rubber mulch is a better choice for the area around your pool pump and filter.
Trimming trees, bushes or hedges around the equipment also helps to reduce moisture around the equipment pad. Many people try to hide their pool equipment in a jungle of bushes and low hanging trees. Again this may look nice, but your equipment will last longer if in a sunny area with good air flow.
Trimming trees near or above your pool can help keep leaves off the ground and out of your pool. Although this is normally an issue in the fall, leaves come down for many different reasons from wind and storms to squirrels. Almost every hedge or tree eventually needs to be trimmed, and for those that have become overgrown, trim back heavily, or remove and start over.