A brand new freshly filled pool is a beautiful and stimulating sight. You feel you must get it stocked up without a moment’s delay. But some small delay there must be: more than a little if the planting season is some time off.
If the pool has been filled with water straight from the tap it will have the harsh glitter of chlorinated water. Ideally nothing should be put in it for seven days, in which time the chlorine will have disappeared and the water have acquired that soft, limpid, palest amber tint that means it is full of microscopic life forms and fit to support more life in the shape of plants and fish.
Fish, indeed, are the first item you may be tempted -and probably urged by the family – to introduce. You must resist this temptation firmly because the golden rule for a balanced pool is – plants first, fish later. Several weeks later. This is not for the sake of the fish, but of the submerged oxygenating plants (hereafter referred to, in the interests of brevity, as SOP). Fish like to nibble at them, which is all right once they are well established, but since most SOP start off as unrooted bunches it is vital that they have time to growand become firmly anchored. If there are fish there to pull them to pieces as soon as they are put in you will never achieve the flourishing growth of SOP which is the main agent in combating algae. And any more SOP you add later will suffer the same fate, so it is critical to the eventual balance of the pool that you do not put the cart before the horse. Remember the rule this way: plants have priority. Fish go in finally.
Pool planting can only be carried out in the summer months. Unlike shrubs and roses, which are planted when dormant, aquatic plants must be moved only when they are actively growing. With a few exceptions, which will be specified in due course, this means thatplanting is carried out from about mid-May to mid-August. Earlier is possible if the spring is particularly favourable and the water warms up early.
Planting as late in the year as mid-September is sometimes feasible, but with growth then on the wane plants have little time to become established, and none at all to make a show, before winter is upon them.