TikTok Is Obsessed with This Budget-Friendly Trend for Small Outdoor Spaces

published Jun 24, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Palm Springs raised wood patio/deck with Dani Dazey designed orange stock tank pool, white lounge chairs with orange and white striped towels and orange pillows, cactus around, mountains in the background
Credit: Dani Dazey

Social media is a gold mine for budget-friendly hacks and DIY ideas. The newest ingenious project to hit the feeds, you ask? Palm Springs-chic and rustic stock tank pools alike. Garnering over 156 million views on TikTok and over 25,000 posts on Instagram, stock tank pools are set to be the next big thing this summer.

Quick Overview

What Is a Stock Pool?

Also known as cowboy pools or dip tanks, stock tank pools are mini pools that are made from the large tanks that farmers use to provide water to their livestock, like cattle and horses. They’re a great option for anyone short on budget or space, but they do require maintenance and upkeep, as well as a filtration system, just as regular swimming pools do.

You can DIY them or bring in a pro to tackle this project, and their look is completely customizable. Those in colder climates and some urban settings might not have the most success with a stock tank pool; winterization will be necessary in the former, and you’ll want to figure out any permits you might need in your municipality for the latter.

These stylish mini pools are affordable, easy to put together, and super-versatile. You’ll find them gracing the backyards of celebrity interior designers like Trixie Motel’s Dani Dazey, luxury Airbnbs, and more. Here’s everything you need to know about this budget-friendly outdoor trend, as well as some design ideas for your own stock tank pool.

What Is a Stock Tank Pool?

Also known as cowboy pools or dip tanks, stock tank pools are mini pools that are made from the large tanks that farmers use to provide water to their livestock, like cattle and horses (aka stock tanks). Made from galvanized metal, stock tanks are round, usually around two feet deep, and can range in size from two feet in diameter to up to 10 feet. When it comes to pools, the most popular choices are usually in the eight- to 10-foot range, and you can occasionally find stock tanks that are up to 44 inches deep. 

While stock tanks aren’t designed to be pools, a few minor changes — including installing a pump, jets, and filtration system — can quickly transform these metal tanks into a functional, refreshing pool for your backyard, says Artem Kropovinsky, expert interior designer and founder of Arsight, an award-winning interior design studio based in New York City. And if the fact that cowboy pools are made from literal watering troughs is giving you pause, hold your horses (pun intended!). With the right design choices, these simple stock tank pools can become totally unrecognizable and make a stylish addition to any yard

The Benefits of Stock Tank Pools

They’re affordable.

Compared to installing an in-ground pool, which will usually cost you at least $20,000, a stock tank pool is significantly cheaper. These pools can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars, depending on the size and equipment you choose, along with the type of installation (DIY versus professional). Dazey, who has two stock tank pools — one at her Los Angeles home and one at her Dazey Desert House rental home in Palm Springs — says affordability was the main reason she opted for stock tank pools over traditional pools. “I am a total water baby, and it’s always been my dream to have a pool,” she says. “While that’s not currently in the budget, a cowboy pool was and seemed like the next best thing!” 

They’re stylish and versatile.

Whether you leave it plain or dress it up with some paint or a custom deck, there’s no denying stock tank pools have a rustic air about them that’s totally trendy right now. For her two stock tank pools, Dazey chose to paint them bright colors and add colorful accessories and decor that reflect her eccentric maximalist style. “As a colorful interior designer best known for Trixie Motel, I had to make them colorful too,” she says. “I went for pink to match our LA house and orange to match our Palm Springs house.” 

They’re easy to install (and remove).

Another huge benefit of stock tank pools is that they are relatively easy to install and remove, should you ever need to. Compared to an in-ground pool, which requires heavy landscaping, cowboy pools can be placed anywhere that is completely flat and leveled (think: a deck so long as its weight can be supported, a concrete pad, a patio, etc.). This versatility of installation, as well as their relative size, also makes them a great fit in smaller backyards and more urban settings. 

Plus, while professional installation is always an option, these mini pools are popular DIY projects that can definitely be completed without a pro if you’re handy. For a happy medium, companies like Cowboy Pools now offer DIY kits that will help you get started, advises Dazey.

Credit: Dani Dazey

What to Know Before Installing a Stock Tank Pool

Before adding a stock tank pool to your home, you should know a few things. First, like any pool, stock tank pools require regular cleaning and maintenance, says Kropovinsky. However, stock tank pools do have some specific requirements when it comes to maintenance that are a bit different from traditional in-ground and above-ground pools. It’s a good idea to do your research and get familiar with what it takes to keep a stock pool up before going all-in on one. 

Second, take your climate into consideration. If you live in an area that experiences extreme winters, a stock tank pool might not be the right fit for you. While the water can be heated, the pools aren’t designed to properly withstand extreme freezing temperatures on a regular basis. If you still want to install a stock tank pool in a colder climate, you will likely need to completely drain and winterize it as temperatures start to drop, or find a way to store it, advises Kropovinsky.

Lastly, before installing a stock tank pool, you should be aware that you may require a building permit to do so, depending on your area. “Some regions require permits or have specific safety regulations for ‘above-ground’ pools,” says Kropovinsky. Make sure that you familiarize yourself with your municipality’s building codes and take out the proper permits if required.

Clever Design Ideas for Your Stock Tank Pool

Now comes the fun part: customizing your stock pool to fit your aesthetic. Your stock tank pool is a total blank slate; you can make it feel like an extension of your interiors, lean into a tropical resort look, or do something wildly colorful. Some ideas for customizing your stock tank include the following:

  • Painting its outside a fun color or going bold with black.
  • Building it into a full or half-raised deck.
  • Placing the pool on a custom deck that is built to size.
  • Putting the pool under a raised pergola with string lights.
  • Using decals or painting a fun pattern on its outside.
  • Painting the inside blue for a traditional pool look, or creating a faux tiled look with paint and stencils on its outside.
  • Planting a garden around the edge of the pool.
  • Covering the outside with wood paneling.
  • Putting planters around the pool.

If you’re at a loss, check out the hashtags #stocktankpool on TikTok and Instagram for even more inspiration.