11 Small Backyard Pool Ideas: Dive into Big Fun in a Compact Space

Do you dream of cooling off on a hot summer day with a refreshing dip in your own pool? But what if your backyard feels more like a postage stamp than a sprawling oasis? With a little creativity and planning, you can transform your compact backyard into a cool and inviting water haven.

Small backyards come with their own set of challenges when it comes to installing a pool. Traditional rectangular pools might leave you feeling cramped, and the cost of construction can quickly balloon. However, there’s a whole world of pool options designed specifically for maximizing enjoyment in a limited space. Not only can these small pool ideas be surprisingly affordable, but they can also add beauty and functionality to your backyard.

So, grab your swimsuit and get ready to discover 11 inspiring pool ideas for your small backyard:

1. The Compact Lap Pool: Make Waves in Limited Space

Lap swimmers, rejoice! You don’t need a backyard the size of an Olympic stadium to get your exercise in. The compact lap pool is a sleek and efficient solution for small spaces. Typically rectangular in shape, these pools prioritize length over width, allowing you to enjoy a refreshing swim without feeling hemmed in.


  • Exercise-friendly: Perfect for getting your daily laps in without leaving your home.
  • Space-saving: The narrow width maximizes usable space in your backyard.
  • Variety of materials: Choose from durable fiberglass for a seamless look or classic concrete for a more customizable option.

Design Considerations:

  • Length: Standard lap pools range from 15 to 40 feet in length. Consider how many laps you typically swim and choose a length that allows for a comfortable workout.
  • Depth: For lap swimming, a depth of 4 to 5 feet is ideal.
  • Jets: If you want to create a current for a more challenging swimming experience, consider installing jets at one end of the pool.

2. The Kidney-Shaped Plunge Pool: Luxury Meets Functionality

The kidney-shaped plunge pool offers a stylish and space-saving option for small backyards. Unlike its rectangular cousin, the kidney shape eliminates wasted corners, allowing the pool to fit seamlessly into a compact area. But don’t be fooled by its size – plunge pools are all about luxurious relaxation.


  • Space-efficient: The curved design maximizes usable space in your backyard.
  • Cooling off and relaxation: Perfect for taking a refreshing dip or lounging in the water.
  • Seating ledges: Opt for a design with built-in ledges for comfortable socializing in the pool.

Design Considerations:

  • Depth: Plunge pools are typically shallower than traditional pools, ranging from 3 to 5 feet in depth.
  • Materials: Choose from a variety of materials like fiberglass, concrete, or even tile for a customized look.
  • Seating ledges: Consider incorporating built-in ledges for additional seating and relaxation space.

3. The Infinity Pool Illusion: A Touch of Luxury for Your Small Oasis

Who says you can’t have a touch of luxury in a small backyard? The infinity pool illusion creates a stunning visual effect that seems to make your pool blend seamlessly with the horizon. While true infinity pools require specific engineering, you can achieve a similar effect in a small space with a raised pool and a vanishing edge.


  • Luxurious appeal: The infinity edge creates a stunning visual effect that adds a touch of sophistication to your backyard.
  • Maximizes views: The illusion of a never-ending pool creates a sense of spaciousness.

Important Considerations:

  • Professional construction: Infinity pools require precise engineering to ensure proper water flow. Consulting with a qualified pool builder is crucial.
  • Maintenance: Infinity pools have specific filtration and pump requirements, so factor in the increased maintenance costs.

4. The Multi-Level Deck & Pool Combo: Maximize Functionality in a Small Space

Sometimes, the key to maximizing a small space is thinking vertically. The multi-level deck and pool combo utilizes different deck heights to create designated areas for your pool and additional usable space in your backyard. This is a great option for adding both a refreshing dip and a relaxing lounge area, even in a limited footprint.


  • Multi-functionality: Creates a designated pool area for swimming and a separate deck area for lounging or entertaining.
  • Space maximization: Utilizes vertical space to create additional usable square footage.
  • Safety: Different deck levels can help define separate areas and add visual interest.

Design Considerations:

  • Deck materials: Choose durable and weather-resistant materials like wood or composite decking.

5. The Swim Spa: Exercise and Relaxation in a Compact Package

If you’re looking for a pool that offers both exercise and relaxation in a space-saving package, then a swim spa might be the perfect solution for your small backyard. Swim spas are essentially pools designed specifically for swimming in place. They are typically smaller than traditional pools and come equipped with built-in jets that create a powerful current for resistance swimming.


  • Exercise and relaxation: Enjoy a challenging workout with the resistance jets or unwind with a soothing massage.
  • Compact size: Swim spas are significantly smaller than traditional pools, making them ideal for limited spaces.
  • Additional features: Many swim spas come with additional features like seating, temperature control, and built-in lighting.

Design Considerations:

  • Size: Swim spas come in a variety of sizes, so choose one that comfortably accommodates your needs.
  • Jets: Consider the strength and direction of the jets to ensure a challenging and effective workout.
  • Features: Decide which additional features, like seating or temperature control, are important for you.

6. The Above-Ground Pool: Affordability and Easy Installation

For those on a budget or with limited time for construction, above-ground pools offer a fantastic alternative to traditional in-ground options. These pools come in a variety of shapes and sizes, making it easy to find one that fits perfectly in your small backyard. Plus, they are typically much easier and more affordable to install than their in-ground counterparts.


  • Affordability: Above-ground pools are significantly less expensive than in-ground pools.
  • Easy installation: These pools can be installed in a matter of days, allowing you to enjoy your pool sooner.
  • Variety of options: Choose from a wide range of shapes, sizes, and materials to find the perfect pool for your backyard.

Important Considerations:

  • Durability: While some above-ground pools are quite durable, they might not be as long-lasting as in-ground options.
  • Maintenance: Above-ground pools require regular maintenance to keep them clean and functional.
  • Regulations: Check with your local authorities to ensure there are no restrictions on installing above-ground pools in your area.

7. The Natural Swimming Pool: A Beautiful and Eco-Friendly Oasis

If you’re looking for a pool that’s as good for the environment as it is for your backyard retreat, then a natural swimming pool might be the perfect choice for you. These pools utilize biological filtration systems instead of harsh chemicals, creating a healthy and wildlife-friendly ecosystem for your backyard oasis.


  • Eco-friendly: Natural pools use biological filtration, reducing reliance on harsh chemicals.
  • Beautiful aesthetics: Natural pools can be designed to look like natural ponds, creating a stunning and harmonious addition to your landscape.
  • Wildlife friendly: The natural filtration system attracts beneficial insects and plants, creating a healthy ecosystem.

Important Considerations:

  • Professional design and construction: Natural pools require specialized design and construction to ensure proper filtration and balance.
  • Maintenance: While natural pools require less harsh chemicals, they do have specific maintenance needs to maintain the biological balance.

8. The Cocktail Pool: A Social Hub for Entertaining

Calling all party animals! The cocktail pool is a small, conversation-friendly pool designed specifically for socializing with friends and family. Typically round or oval in shape, these pools are perfect for lounging and enjoying refreshing beverages on a hot summer day.


  • Social hub: Creates a focal point for gatherings and encourages conversation.
  • Space-saving: The compact size allows for more space dedicated to entertaining areas like seating and a fire pit.
  • Variety of materials: Choose from a variety of materials like fiberglass, concrete, or even tile for a customized look.

Design Considerations:

  • Size: Cocktail pools are typically smaller than traditional pools, ranging from 10 to 15 feet in diameter.
  • Seating: Incorporate built-in benches or ledges around the pool for comfortable socializing.
  • Depth: Cocktail pools are typically shallower than traditional pools, ranging from 3 to 4 feet in depth. Consider adding bubblers or waterfalls for added ambiance.

9. The Reflection Pool: A Tranquil Oasis for Relaxation

For those seeking a serene escape, the reflection pool offers a tranquil and visually stunning addition to your small backyard. These pools are designed primarily for aesthetics, creating a calming reflection of the sky and surrounding landscape.


  • Peaceful ambiance: The still water creates a calming and meditative atmosphere.
  • Visual appeal: The reflective surface adds a unique visual element to your backyard.
  • Low maintenance: Reflection pools typically require less maintenance than traditional swimming pools.

Design Considerations:

  • Shape: Reflection pools can be geometric or free-form, depending on your desired aesthetic.
  • Material: Opt for dark-colored materials like dark liner or polished stone to enhance the reflective qualities.
  • Surrounding landscape: Carefully consider the surrounding landscaping to create a harmonious and visually appealing scene reflected in the water.

10. The Beach Entry Pool: A Naturalistic Escape for the Family

Turn your backyard into a mini beach paradise with a beach entry pool. This family-friendly design features a sloped entry that gradually deepens, mimicking the feel of a natural shoreline. It’s perfect for creating a safe and fun environment for children to play and splash around.


  • Family-friendly: The gradual entry provides a safe and comfortable area for children of all ages.
  • Naturalistic aesthetic: Creates a beach-like atmosphere in your backyard, perfect for families who love the outdoors.
  • Multi-functional: The shallow entry area can be used for lounging in shallow water or sunbathing on pool chairs.

Design Considerations:

  • Slope: The slope of the beach entry should be gradual enough for safe and easy access.
  • Material: Choose slip-resistant materials for the beach entry area, such as textured concrete or exposed aggregate.
  • Seating: Incorporate lounge chairs or built-in seating along the shallow entry area for sunbathing and relaxation.

11. The Koi Pond with a Swim Area: A Harmony of Nature and Leisure

For those who appreciate the beauty of nature, a koi pond with a swim area offers a unique and tranquil backyard retreat. This design combines a designated swimming area with a koi pond, creating a harmonious blend of functionality and aesthetics.


  • Beautiful and unique: The koi pond adds a stunning visual element to your backyard.
  • Relaxing atmosphere: The sound of water and the presence of koi fish can create a calming and peaceful environment.
  • Multi-functional: Provides a dedicated area for swimming alongside a beautiful koi pond.

Important Considerations:

  • Professional design and construction: Ensuring proper filtration and water balance for both the koi pond and swimming area requires expert planning.
  • Maintenance: Maintaining a healthy environment for both koi fish and swimmers necessitates regular maintenance.
  • Regulations: Check with your local authorities regarding any restrictions on keeping koi fish in your pond.

Bonus Landscaping Tips for a Small Backyard Pool

Even the most stunning pool can feel cramped in a small space. Here are some landscaping tips to help maximize the visual appeal and functionality of your small backyard pool area:

  • Choose complementary plants: Opt for plants with low-growing foliage that won’t encroach on pool space or shade the water.
  • Think vertical: Utilize vertical gardening techniques with hanging planters or trellises to add greenery without sacrificing ground space.
  • Create a sense of depth: Use a variety of textures and colors in your landscaping to create a sense of visual depth and make your backyard feel larger.
  • Multi-functional furniture: Opt for furniture that serves multiple purposes, such as loungers with built-in storage compartments.
  • Strategic lighting: String lights or strategically placed solar lights can add ambiance and create the illusion of a larger space at night.

Final Thoughts

With a little creativity and planning, you can transform your small backyard into a cool and inviting water haven. From the sleek functionality of a lap pool to the luxurious appeal of an infinity pool illusion, there’s a perfect pool option for every small space and budget. Remember to consider factors like your desired use for the pool, your budget, and local regulations before making your final decision.

Now, grab your swimsuit and get ready to make a splash in your very own backyard oasis!