These Small Backyard Pools Show How to Make a Splash in the Tiniest Spaces

updated Aug 1, 2023
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Is there anyone who would say no to a pool in their own backyard? Imagine stepping outside in the warm months and seeing that glimmering blue water staring back at you, just beckoning you to come for a dip. If a backyard pool is your dream, but you don’t want to spend a ton of money and time on installing and maintaining it, you might want to consider a small pool. That’s right – it’s totally possible to incorporate a pool into your design (and not just a portable pool), no matter how short on square footage you may be. From magazine-worthy plunge pools to budget-friendly stock tank pools, our round-up of small pool ideas is the perfect jumping off point. See what we did there? 

What Is a Small Pool? 

While the sizes and dimensions of pools vary, anything that’s about 10 feet by 10 feet or smaller is typically considered a small pool. In terms of depth, three feet is standard for soaking and floating, and four to five feet and above is the best depth for lap pools. From there, it’s up to you. 

Small Pool Ideas: Shape and Design

Elongated rectangles can give a pool a modern edge or a mediterranean vibe, while circular pools offer a more boho or even a rustic feel. Design elements like tiling and even concrete stamping can add to the aesthetic you’re aiming for, many of which you’ll see here. Once you’ve nailed down your pool’s design, be sure to incorporate things like potted plants, pool floats, and patio furniture that add to the vibe.

So if you’re considering upping the cool factor of your outdoor space, get inspired by these small pool ideas that make a big splash.

1. Make it an indoor/outdoor pool

There are great things about an indoor pool, and great things about an outdoor pool as well. That’s just one of the reasons we love this Scottsdale pool, which is partially covered for additional shade and protection from the elements. 

2. Add a lap pool.

The vibrant, blue lap pool that’s part of this concrete deck on this Greek villa is the perfect way to relax – or work out, depending on your preference. The infinity edge adds a stunning visual element, as it gives way to the amazing view below. 

Credit: Courtesy of Yardzen

3. Install a pocket pool.

This beautiful backyard juxtaposes a dark, moody home exterior with a brilliantly blue pocket pool and otherwise simple landscaping for a stunning look. We love how it incorporates the blue pool water with several different green hues that pop against the home. An otherwise minimalist surrounding adds to the serene vibe. 

4. Surround the pool with pea pebbles.

Using rocks for landscaping is a popular option, and it works extremely well around backyard pools, like the one in this Austin ranch-style home. That’s because you can skip the soggy, muddy mess you’ll get when your pool rests atop the grass. It’s a beautiful option that keeps things clean, too. 

Credit: Dani Dazey

5. Put stock in a stock tank pool. 

Backyard pools are often categorized into two extremes: large in-ground pools or plastic cylinders sitting on your lawn. But a stock tank-style pool proves above-ground pools can look super chic and cool in your backyard. And how can you not love the adorable pink color? 

Credit: Yardzen

6. Try precast concrete. 

“Watching the precast plunge pool get craned in over the house was a little stressful, but once it was in place, we felt great about it,” Kristy Hootman says of her small pool. “While it’s still an investment, it’s a lot cheaper than doing a custom pool, and because it’s less money to maintain and clean, we can feasibly heat it with solar power during the colder months and get full year-round use out of it!”

Credit: @sunwoven

7. Play with color, texture, and patterns.

This sunny Charleston stock tank pool (and poolside recreation area) makes good use of color, texture, and patterns: The mustard pool and matching throw blanket contrast beautifully with teal outdoor chairs, white macrame, and black and white striped curtains.  

8. Incorporate gorgeous greenery.

This monochrome, Mediterranean-inspired pool and privacy wall are surrounded by lush green plants on all sides that make her small backyard pool feel like a private oasis. 

9. Incorporate a bar and seating. 

This above ground pool in Louisville, Kentucky features a built-in bar with seating on the opposite side. Incorporating these elements into the pool itself makes the gorgeous backyard blend seamlessly together. 

10. Opt for cedar siding.

An endless pool is a great solution for small pool ideas, since it allows you to swim laps without having a large pool. This above-ground model rests on a solid concrete slab, and is surrounded by attractive cedar shake siding for a zen-like vibe. 

11. Install a privacy screen.

There’s simply no better than a stock tank when you need a small pool solution. This one is doctored up with a wooden deck that’s perfectly fitted to the circular design. A zen-like faux bamboo wall provides the perfect touch of privacy. 

12. Get artistic with a stenciled design.

This tiny stock tank from The Shack Attack is just large enough to soak in. But when it comes to small pool ideas, you go with whatever works if you have extremely limited space. Soak in style with a painted exterior and chic stencils. 

Credit: @plungeplus

13. Invest in a plunge pool.

This tiny plunge pool by Plunge Plus is just big enough to cool you off in the hot summer months, regardless of the size of your backyard. This rectangular model is set against an expansive patio, with plenty of room for entertaining. Short on space? Reduce the size of the surrounding patio for a diminutive dip.

Credit: Kristi Waite

14. Create a pergola paradise.

Don’t forget to incorporate a comfortable place to lounge in your list of small pool ideas. Even if your pool is tiny, you can still sit by it in style. We’re obsessed with this wooden pergola — it’s fitted with clear polycarbonate, so it’s just as useful in winter as it is in summer.

15. Channel Hollywood glam.  

Everything from the lounge chair cushions to the swan pool float makes this pint-size swimming pool look like it’s straight out of a dollhouse. We love that there’s still plenty of room for sunbathing and sipping coffee.

16. Channel a vacation vibe.

This Portland home’s pool setup looks like it’s straight out of Palm Springs, the capital of mid-century modern. The mini greenhouse and vibrantly-colored accents bring major saturation to the oftentimes gray, rainy days of the Pacific Northwest.

17. Convert a shed into a pool house.

If you’re short on space or just want to minimize your pool’s impact on your backyard, we love the idea of converting a shed into a pool house. A mini pool house, like the one outside of this California home, is the perfect complement to a small pool, and one of our favorite small pool ideas. Think of it as a permanent cabana—it’s just big enough to fit a sofa and a set of side chairs.

18. Mix and match styles.

Stepping outside the door of this cozy Houston home and into the backyard instantly introduces a spa-like vibe. That’s because of the pool. Its utilitarian silhouette and cement contrasts with the river rock walkways and natural wood patio furniture. The result is a calm and cool place to have a little fun in the sun.

Credit: Jake Holt

19. Try a mid-century modern vibe.

This stunning pool by Clayton & Little, shot by Jake Holt, is a dreamy ode to mid-century modern design. The matching turquoise chairs and table reflect the water and boldly stand out against the backyard’s mix of wood walls, cement, and greenery.

20. Build vertically with a double decker pool.

One of the best rules to follow when decorating and designing a small space is to build vertically. And you can do the same with a pool. While you may not have the space to spread out a large rectangle across your yard, why not create two pools stacked atop each other like the one at this cool San Francisco home? Patterned tile makes the setup look like a fancy resort pool.

21. Choose above-ground style.

Sarah Kress’ above-ground pool in Charleston, South Carolina looks chic and fun paired with white tiles, welcome greenery, a photo-worthy seating area, and romantic twinkling lights.