Backyard Pool Ideas on a Budget

Published: 10 months ago, Last Updated: 10 months ago
Daniel Brown
Writer: Daniel Brown

As summer heatwaves roll in, the allure of a refreshing backyard oasis becomes increasingly irresistible. Contrary to popular belief, transforming this dream into reality doesn’t always have to indicate a lavish budget.

This blog will explore unique backyard pool ideas on a budget, small pool ideas for inground liners,, and more. We’ll delve into the prospects of saltwater pools and pool slides, all within reasonable budgets. So hold onto your swim caps and dive in with us!

5 Affordable Backyard Pool Types

Embracing the luxury of a pool doesn’t require a vast backyard space or a sky-high budget. There are various types of above-ground and inground pools that you can build to fit the size of your backyard. Depending on the type, average prices can range from $1,000 to way above $60,000.  

By considering some backyard pool ideas on a budget, you can create a beautiful swimming pool that suits your preferences and potentially saves on costs. Building your own pool can be a rewarding project that allows for customization and cost-effectiveness. With careful planning and access to the right resources, you can create a stunning pool that enhances your outdoor space without breaking the bank.

Above-Ground Pools

A popular budget-friendly option, above-ground pools are cheaper and easier to install than inground pools. They can be set up and ready for water in just a few days. While not as durable as inground options, they are a great way to get the pool experience at a fraction of the cost. Prices for above-ground pools can start as low as $500.

Plunge Pools

These are small, shallow pools intended for lounging and cooling off rather than swimming. Because of their size, plunge pools can be a cost-effective and space-saving option. Depending on the material used, prices can start from $7,000, which is way less than traditional pools.

Stock Tank Pools

A creative and budget-friendly choice, stock tank pools are large steel or plastic basins traditionally used for watering livestock. Recently, they’ve gained popularity as unconventional pools, ideal for lounging and cooling off.

They come with the advantage of being shallow, simple to set up, and easy to maintain. Moreover, the rustic appearance can add a unique charm to your backyard. Typically, stock tank pools can cost between $200 and $700, depending on the size and material.

Vinyl Liner Pools

These pools feature a custom-made sheet of vinyl between the water and the pool structure. Vinyl pools typically take one to three weeks to install and offer more design flexibility than fiberglass. However, liners usually need to be replaced every five to nine years. The average cost for a basic above-the-ground pool liner is between $200 and $900.

DIY Natural Pools

DIY natural pools harness the power of nature to keep the water clean, using plants and natural microorganisms to filter the water instead of chemicals. These pools offer the benefit of blending seamlessly with your garden, often featuring areas with aquatic plants and stones.

However, they require more installation time – typically three to six months. The price range of DIY natural pools range based on the construction method chosen and the materials utilized for construction. You can expect to pay between $20 and $80 per square foot.

Also, consider the potential for attracting mosquitoes when building a DIY natural pool. Here are some tips to keep mosquitoes out:

  • Water Movement: Mosquitoes prefer stagnant water for laying their eggs. By ensuring that the water in your natural pool is constantly moving, you can deter mosquitoes. This can be achieved by installing a small pump or fountain that circulates the water.
  • Fish: Introducing fish that feed on mosquito larvae can be an effective way to control the mosquito population. Fish such as goldfish, guppies, and gambusia (mosquito fish) are known to eat mosquito larvae and can be a natural solution to the problem.
  • Aquatic Plants: Some aquatic plants can help reduce the mosquito population. For example, plants like water lilies cover the surface of the water, reducing the area where mosquitoes can lay their eggs. Additionally, certain plants release substances that deter mosquitoes.
  • Regular Maintenance: Regularly removing debris and organic matter from the pool can prevent the water from becoming stagnant and reduce the chances of mosquito breeding. This includes skimming the surface for leaves and other debris.
  • Bacterial Larvicides: There are bacterial products available, such as those containing Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), which target and kill mosquito larvae without harming other wildlife or plants in the pool.
  • Physical Barriers: Using fine mesh or netting to cover the pool, especially during peak mosquito seasons, can prevent adult mosquitoes from accessing the water to lay their eggs.
  • Avoid Using Bright Lights Near the Pool at Night: Mosquitoes are attracted to light. If you have outdoor lighting near your pool, consider using yellow “bug lights,” which are less attractive to mosquitoes.
  • Natural Repellents: There are natural oils and plants that repel mosquitoes. Planting them around the pool area can help keep mosquitoes at bay. Examples include citronella, lavender, and marigold.

If you opt to construct a natural pool yourself, thoroughly research the topic to ensure that the water is safe to swim in and that the construction is sturdy.

Natural Pool with Floating Wetland

Natural pools are an eco-friendly and visually stunning alternative. Using plants to naturally filter the water, these pools include a section called a “floating wetland” that provides an aquatic habitat while adding to the aesthetic appeal. 

Because of the lack of chemicals needed for maintenance, ongoing costs are reduced. The average annual cost for chlorine is between $960 and $1,800, but you can make a one-time investment in a floating wetland, which costs $1,400 and significantly reduces your long-term expenses for chemicals and upkeep.

Wood Pallet Pool Frame

For a truly budget-friendly option, consider building a DIY pool using wooden pallets. This involves creating a pool structure using these pallets and installing a heavy-duty liner to hold the water. 

Prices for this project can range from $150 to $500, depending on the size of the pool. Keep in mind that this option will require some elbow grease, but the result is cost-effective for cooling off in the summer.

Need Inspiration for Small Backyard Pool Design?

Creating an enchanting and affordable pool retreat involves more than choosing the right pool type. The surrounding elements also play a role in shaping your backyard paradise. Let’s look at some budget backyard pool add-ons that can enhance your outdoor space.

Backyard Pool Add-Ons

From tanning ledges to water basketball, there are many additional pool features you can consider. The right add-ons can further personalize your space, making your pool more than just a place for a swim but a unique entertainment hub.

Tanning Ledge

Also known as a sun shelf or Baja shelf, a tanning ledge is a shallow, flat area in the pool that allows you to lounge in the water without fully submerging.

Prices for tanning ledges can vary but typically start at around $1,500 for vinyl or fiberglass pools.

Pool Bubbler

Bubblers are small water fountains that create a bubbling effect on your pool surface. They add a tranquil and playful aspect to your pool and can be a hit with children. They can also fit well in shallow areas of your pool, like the tanning ledge. Installation costs for pool bubblers can start as low as $500, making them a great choice for backyard pool ideas on a budget.

Pool Slide

If you have space in your backyard, consider adding a pool slide for a splash of excitement. Slides can turn an ordinary pool into a thrilling adventure for kids and adults alike, especially at barbecues or pool parties.

While prices for pool slides vary widely based on size and design, budget-friendly options can start from around $1,000. Also, make sure the plumbing for the slide is integrated during the pool’s installation for cost-efficiency and safety.

Water Basketball

Introducing games like water basketball can add a fun element to your pool. A sturdy, pool-friendly basketball hoop can range from $25 for a basic model to $200 for higher-end options. It’s a small investment for hours of entertainment.

Fancy Waterline Tiles

Installing waterline tiles can dramatically change your pool’s look and feel, giving it a fancier and finished appearance. It can also help you integrate your color scheme and incorporate any ornaments you want to bring to your outdoor area. Depending on the type and quality of the tile you choose, costs can range from $2 to $10 per square foot, including installation.


A cascade or pool waterfall is a visually stunning feature that adds the calming sound of flowing water to your pool area. A simple cascade feature can start at around $1,000, while more complex designs will be higher.

Keep in mind that waterfall and cascade plumbing should be managed in advance, preferably when the pool is built, to avoid high setup costs.

Backyard Pool Features

Dive into these affordable ideas to further enhance the ambiance of your small backyard pool. These features not only elevate the aesthetics of your pool but also add practicality, creating a versatile backyard space that extends beyond the pool itself.

Saltwater Pool

A saltwater pool system uses salt and a chlorine generator to sanitize the pool, providing a more gentle and natural swimming experience. Although the initial setup cost is higher than a traditional chlorine pool – ranging from $1,500 to $2,500 – the long-term savings can be significant.

The salt in these systems is less harsh on pool liners, filters, and pumps, leading to longer lifespans and reduced replacement costs. But if you have a concrete pool, keep in mind that salt can wear down plaster finishes quicker.

Color-Changing Lights

LED lights can significantly enhance your pool’s atmosphere, especially for nighttime swims. Solar-powered lights are an eco-friendly and budget-conscious choice, offering ongoing cost savings. They must be installed during the pool’s construction, and prices start around $30 for a single light.

Another option is also to add landscape lighting around the pool in the backyard to make the space immediately more charming. Opt for multiple lighting points, like under the bushes, rather than a single source.

Patio Umbrellas

Consider adding a large patio umbrella to beat the heat during peak summer hours. Not only do they provide much-needed shade, but they also contribute to the overall aesthetic of your pool area.

Umbrellas are among the best patio ideas on a budget that come in a variety of colors and styles and are relatively inexpensive, making them a stylish and practical addition to your backyard pool ideas on a budget.

Pool Furniture

Investing in pool furniture is an excellent way to enhance the comfort and style of your pool area. Options like lounge chairs, side tables, or outdoor sofas offer spots to relax, sunbathe, or socialize. You can find a wide range of choices to suit various budgets, with basic lounge chairs starting at around $50 each and full outdoor sofa sets from $200 onwards.


Adding plants around your pool not only enhances its visual appeal but also helps create a natural, charming environment. Consider native, low-maintenance plants like agave and aloe vera or flowering plants like marigolds for a more budget-friendly and sustainable choice. Integrating backyard garden ideas into your pool area will bring a vibrant and refreshing feel to your little oasis.

Key Takeaways

  • Small inground pools, including fiberglass, concrete, vinyl liner, and plunge pools, offer a variety of options to fit different backyard spaces and budgets.
  • Features like tanning ledges and pool bubblers can greatly enhance your pool experience, offering relaxation and fun at an affordable cost.
  • Opting for a saltwater system can provide a more sea-like swimming experience. While the initial cost is higher, long-term savings make it a budget-friendly option.
  • Adding a pool slide and color-changing LED lights can bring excitement and ambiance to your pool. Remember to plan for these additions during pool installation to save on costs.
  • Practical and aesthetic enhancements like patio umbrellas, pool furniture, waterline tiles, cascades, and plants can improve your pool area’s aesthetic without breaking the bank.

Sum Up

A backyard pool transformation can succeed and thrive on a small budget. From small inground pools to enchanting pool ornaments, there’s a multitude of backyard pool ideas on a budget. With thoughtful planning, a balance of aesthetics and functionality, and strategic budgeting, you can transform your backyard into a refreshing oasis. Dive into these backyard pool ideas on a budget and make a splash this summer!

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