Best Backyard Above Ground Pool Ideas On A Budget

Choosing a Budget-Friendly Pool, and Upgrading Your Surroundings

You want to find a way to put a swimming pool in your backyard, without spending a lot of money or creating an unattractive eye sore, right? We’ve been there- a few times. That’s why we’re sharing our above ground pool ideas on a budget.

Above ground pool image with deck and greenery.
Add a pool deck and greenery to your above ground pool

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In-ground pools cost thousands of dollars and are pretty difficult to DIY. Setting up the perfect place to enjoy a hot summer day doesn’t have to come with a high price tag or massive installation costs- you can do it yourself and save money with some creativity and a little inspiration.

Choose A Cost-Effective Pool Option

As opposed to traditional in-ground pools, above ground pools are a budget-friendly alternative that come in several different options. The type of pool you choose can have a significant difference in the overall cost of your project.

Go Inflatable

Image of an inflatable above ground pool
Inflatable Pool From Adobe Photos

Inflatable pools are by far the cheapest option of the lot, and have their pros and cons. You can find these at Walmart, Amazon, and just about any other big box store, for as little as under $100. While they are really easy to install, they do tend to have a short life. However, based on the price and ease of installation, they’re a great idea when you’re just looking for a way to get into some cool water on a hot summer day. Kids, especially, aren’t going to complain about this option!

And speaking of inflatable pools, don’t overlook the advantages of using an inflatable hot tub as a pool in the summer. We’ve had a few different types and brands over the years (this is the one we have currently, and love), and while these make for a very small pool, they’re ideal for small kids and small spaces. And bonus- you can use it all year long if you keep it heated in the winter!

Image of an inflatable hot tub
Our kids enjoying the hot tub at my sister’s house.

Set Up A Stock Tank Pool

Image of a stock tank pool
Stock tank pool from Cowboy Pools

Stock tank pools are a somewhat trendy option right now. They’re galvanized steel tanks used for livestock that creative folks have turned into backyard pools. You can literally buy these at your local Tractor Supply store, add a pump, find a level spot in your yard, and you’re good to go!

Depending where you live, you can also buy them online and have them shipped. They come in a range of costs from a few hundred dollars to over $2k, depending where you find them and how much you DIY the end result.

Install A Metal Framed Pool

Then there’s the more common pool kits, with an option of soft-sided or hard-sided frames. A smaller pool is of course going to be the more budget-friendly option, with an average cost as low as $140 for a 10 foot pool to over $2k for a 32 foot rectangular option (and up from there, depending what type of frame you purchase.) These can be purchased online, or at local retailers, and you absolutely can set them up yourself.

Image of an above ground pool with pea gravel landscaping

We’ve bought a few of these types of pools for each of the three homes we’ve owned, and most recently installed a rectangular Intex steel frame pool with an above ground pool deck. We did all of the work ourselves, and absolutely love the outdoor space we’ve created. 

Upgrade Your Above Ground Pool Surroundings

Once you have your pool size and style, you can class up the surroundings and add functionality by adding a pool deck, landscaping, and other attractive features.

Add An Affordable Pool Deck

Image of a pool deck with a wood deck and pergola
Wood Pool Deck with Pergola: Adobe Photo

A pool deck can be add style and function with a simple design, using cost-effective materials. We added a really large above ground pool deck last summer, but a simple wooden deck can look really good and cost quite a bit less.

Use Creative, Recycled Materials

Pool deck with galvenized steel skirting
Pic: Jamon Holmgren

My brother and sister-in-law put in an above ground pool and deck a few summers ago, and they added recycled galvanized steel skirting. I love this look- it gives it a really cool vibe while also closing off the section under the deck.

You can even use pallets to create a frame, steps, platform or pool deck furniture.

pool platform with wood pallets
Pool Platform: Adobe Photo

Add Sides that Blend In

image of an above ground pool with faux wood sides
Above Ground Pool from Adobe Photos

You can build a basic wood frame to go around the pool, or find a design that looks like wood. This pool also has a really attractive hard sides that blend in well with the background for a more seamless look.

Add Landscape Design

above ground pool with greenery and flowers and pool landscaping
Pool Landscaping from Adobe Photos

One of the best things you can do to upgrade your pool area is with landscape design. Add pea gravel or landscaping pebbles around the perimeter of the pool. Decorate with plants, potted or planted trees, and greenery.

Add Lighting

image of our above ground pool deck with string lights
Our pool deck and string lights around our above ground pool

String lights and solar cap lights instantly class up a backyard space, and paired with water? Instant awesomeness. Our favorite string lights are these LED Vintage Shatterproof Bulbs from Amazon– they’ve withstood all kinds of weather and kids messing with them and are going strong.

These above ground pool ideas on a budget make hot summers spent outside so much better with a place to cool off.

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