Last Updated: August 17, 2021

Can You Put an Inground Pool in a Small Backyard?

Written By: Pool Care Guide

Yes, you can construct inground pools within small backyards. We aren't saying that it will work in every case, but you can make it work most of the time. When it doesn't work, the impediment is often government-related rather than physical limitations.

Of course, there are exceptions. As the square footage of the yard shrinks, so do your options. Also, a pool can only be so small before you call it a bathtub.

Government Restrictions

While your inground pool might fit, there might be zoning issues. Adding a pool, whether inground or above, is a construction project that often requires multiple permits. On this page, we will focus on spatial challenges and potential solutions. 

After you've worked out what size, type, and shape of pool you want, we recommend that you head over to our article, "Do I Need a Pool Permit?" However, before moving to the spatial issues, we'll just say that the government restrictions often arise from a city, county, state, and HOA (Home Owner's Association) level. 

There are local ordinances regarding setback distances from the roads and neighbors. Is your land on or very close to a nature preserve? Will the pool be close to utilities in the ground or above the ground? All of these problems will vary from place to place, and we can help point you in the right direction to find what permits and restrictions might apply to you.

Is My Backyard Big Enough for a Pool?

If you intend to install a standard but small pool, you should have a minimum of 1,200 square feet of space. The 1,200 feet of space accounts for the size of the pool, a very small patio space, and a small setback.

This is a ballpark figure. The setback will not be the same from one location to the next, so the 1,200 might not be enough. If you want a deck big enough for pool furniture, you'll need a bit more space. You will also need more space if you intend on installing fountains, waterfalls, or any other pool features.

What Is the Best Pool for a Small Yard?

If your yard has less than 1,200 square feet of space, the best pool will be a cocktail pool or an endless pool. If you are working with a bit more space, you will have a few more options. The "best pool" will ultimately depend upon the square footage of the yard and the size of your budget.

If you need a custom-shaped pool that will fit into a small space, concrete pools and vinyl liner pools are typically the best options. Concrete pools are the most expensive pool to install and maintain, but they last a very long time. Vinyl liner pools have the shortest lifespans of all the pool types, but their upfront costs are often the cheapest.

Fiberglass can be a great option, but they are premade. If you can't find one in the right size and shape for your small backyard, there is little that you can do about it. There might be an exception somewhere on the internet, but the smallest fiberglass pools we are finding are sized at 10' x 20', 12' x 20', and 12' x 24'.

Alternative Pools for Small Backyards

Cocktail Pool

If you are working with limited space, consider a quick Pinterest search for cocktail pools. Cocktail pools, sometimes called compact pools, are a category of extra small pools. The width and length of these pools are so small that some of them are comparable to a hot tub. The depth is often between 3 and 4 feet.

Since cocktail pools use fewer materials and take less work to install, they are much more affordable than regular pools. If you have it installed, the price is usually about $25,000 cheaper than an average pool. If you install it yourself, you can expect the total cost to be somewhere around $5,000.

Plunge Pool

Plunge pools are just starting to gain a foothold within the United States. Until recently, it was a purchase primarily made in Australia and Europe. Plunge pools are similar to cocktail pools but with a few small differences.

Much like cocktail pools, these tiny pools can take up as much space as a hot tub. On average, hot tub dimensions range between 7' x 8' and 9' x 9'. While they can be that small, on average, you'll find plunge pool sizes to be 10' x 18'. They also come in circles and quirky half-circles that might better fit in an oddly shaped space.

Plunge pools are much like cocktail pools, but they have deeper depths. Cocktail pools are 3 to 4 feet deep, but plunge pool depths are typically 4 to 8 feet.

Plunge pools are made for bathers, not swimmers. Most install plunge pools to cool on sunny days and create a fun space to socialize. Plunge pools are often set to a cool 50°F to 60°F, which is a bit chilly for most. Of course, there is no reason you couldn't heat up the plunge pool like a regular pool.

Endless Pool

If you want a lap pool but don't have space for it, endless pools are a fantastic option. Endless pools work like treadmills. Instead of a revolving belt, a pool pump generates a strong current. It's a great way to get exercise and a fabulous way to get a large pool experience in a minimized package.

Swim Spa

Swim spas are a harmonious blend of an endless pool and a hot tub. A swim spa can achieve the same piping hot temperatures as a hot tub with an adjustable thermostat. Swim spas have several massage jets scattered throughout the pool, which are wonderful for relaxing tension from muscles. When you want it, you can exercise against a pool-pump-generated current like an endless pool. 

Swim spas are cheap to buy, quick to install, and so compact that they can fit in just about any backyard. It's a great combination that can be used in the summer and winter.

Rooftop Pool

Is your backyard so tiny that it borders on being mythical? Is the ground floor taken up with superfluous amenities such as the kitchen and bedrooms? Even if this is the case, there might still be room on the roof.

This isn't a realistic option for most people. Those that can afford a rooftop pool generally choose it out of desire rather than necessity. We're simply listing it so that you can know all of the options.

Without reinforcement, most homes cannot support the weight of a pool and its water. A single gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds. If you multiply 8.34 lbs. against 1,000s of gallons and add the weight of the pool's structure, you will see how significant of a burden that weight can be. 

Related Questions

How Small Can a Backyard Pool Be?

The smallest pools are around 10' x 10' or 8' x 8' if you want to push it. Technically speaking, it's entirely up to you. If you really want, you could dig out a backyard bathtub and throw a pool party. 

That said, it depends on what you want to get out of the pool. If you just want to relax, you could make a pool the size of a hot tub. If you want to swim laps, you'll need something longer.

What Is the Best Small Pool for a Small Backyard?

The answer will depend on what you want and what you are willing to sacrifice. However, if we put all the potential benefits and disadvantages aside and only concern ourselves with its fit, concrete pools are best suited for small backyards. 

Concrete pools are sprayed into place at your home. You aren't buying a factory-manufactured shell which opens the possibility for customization. If you need an "L"-shaped pool with perpendicular lines of different sizes, you can do that. If there is only one type of inground pool that has a chance to fit within a small weirdly-shaped backyard, it's going to be a concrete pool.

What Is the Least Expensive Pool Shape?

Squares and rectangles are the cheapest pool shapes to construct. As a rule, if you want the most affordable prices, eliminate the curves and work with straight lines. Straight lines are cheaper to build since they don't require as much skill or any special materials that the curves sometimes require.

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