Modern, single-story house with large glass windows, an outdoor seating area, and a small rectangular pool on a wooden deck, surrounded by greenery.

6 Small Pool Ideas on a Budget

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Looking for small pool ideas on a budget tends to catch everyone by surprise. If you’re like a lot of people you might have already decided that a new pool, or extensive work on an existing one, are outside of your reach. But you might be surprised to find out that you’re just a few steps away from the pool of your dreams. Read on to discover how to make your dreams of the perfect pool into a reality.

Why You Need a Budget

The first step to your perfect pool is a budget. This is where a lot of people wind up talking themselves out of a new pool. People begin with an assumption that things are prohibitively expensive without ever looking at the exact numbers. But you might be surprised by how low the total cost of a swimming pool can be. It’s often a matter of combining cost-cutting measures and working out exactly what you can afford with a reliable monthly payment calculator.

It’s best to start laying things out with the total you’re comfortable spending on a monthly basis. This can feel like a constraint. But the number can also be seen as permission to start adding things into your pool budget that you might feel are indulgences. Keep in mind that the whole point of a pool is enjoyment. It’s an investment that’s meant to be enjoyed over the course of a lifetime. You’re allowed to have fun. And you’re allowed to add pool features that’ll make ownership a more enjoyable experience.

However, there’s one option among all of the others that can help bring down your budget. And that’s the overall size of your pool. When you’re putting together a budget you might begin to notice that a lot of the costs aren’t a solid fixed fee. Instead, the cost tends to vary by size.

The larger the pool the more expensive almost every aspect of pool ownership becomes. Conversely, the smaller the pool the less expensive it becomes.

backyard pool in a small space with a couch and a lot of plant life
When space is limited, the resulting pool area can end up being quite stunning and better than many backyards that have ample room.

Benefits of Small Pools

A smaller pool, less than 12 feet, is almost always more affordable than a larger one. But it’s important to understand why that’s the case if you’re going to get the full bang from your buck when budgeting pool expenses. You should also keep all of these points in mind when thinking about options for a small pool. Not all pools are the same. And different small pool options will often favor one or two of these points more than the others.

Less maintenance

Think about what goes into pool maintenance. The cost to maintain a pool will change depending on various design elements. For example, saltwater pools incur a larger setup fee but are typically much cheaper to maintain than chlorine. And solar heating options will save money over 100% electric solutions. But most of these factors are also influenced by the size of your pool. If you’re dealing with half the total volume of water then it typically cuts heating costs in half. And this principle extends to most areas of pool maintenance.

Pool funds can go into other elements of your backyard

A pool is the most important part of an outdoor space. But you’ll typically want other features such as a deck, trellis, fire pit, etc. And the money and space saved by going for a smaller pool can be funneled into these other options.

Can be easily fit into more environments

There’s no doubt that a huge pool is great. However, it limits where you can actually build it. But a smaller pool can fit into a much wider range of environments. For example, you might have an area that’s filled with natural beauty and an amazing view. But installing a large pool there would disrupt the tranquil beauty you’re trying to celebrate. You could integrate a smaller pool into that space while a larger pool would disrupt it.

The most eco-friendly option

One of the most enjoyable parts of pool ownership is the opportunity to really enjoy the outdoors. Swimming on a perfect summer day really highlights just how beautiful the world can be. And it makes most people want to protect and preserve that natural splendor. It turns out that you’re doing so just by owning a small pool. They use less energy and resources and so they’re usually eco friendly by their very nature.

Problem-solving brings in creative workarounds

It’s often tempting to just go for the default option when considering construction projects. But doing so tends to end up with results that can be enjoyable but lack any individual flair. There’s no doubt that designing around size constraints can be difficult. But it also ensures that you’re really putting a lot of yourself into the idea. The end result isn’t just “a” pool. It’s “your” pool – a design that speaks to what you value in a pool.

Choosing a Basic Pool Type

It’s always wise to lay down the foundation for an idea before moving too far into it. And with pools that can be taken in a very literal direction.

Your pool idea journey should begin by considering what type of material will be used for the foundation and structure.

The options can generally be divided into three main categories.

small backyard concrete pool
A concrete pool is often the goto for any small pool as it is totally customizable and can be made to suit any space in any shape you need.


Concrete is the most popular option for inground pools. If someone asks for a default pool design then chances are it’ll be concrete. Concrete is generally a great choice for smaller pools. One big reason is that concrete is quite literally poured into place. You can shape concrete to match any of the creative options you come up with to conserve space. The main downside is that a concrete pool is also more subject to damage than other construction materials.


Fiberglass brings a lot to the table. It’s non-porous, which provides natural resistance against algae. This instantly saves money on maintenance costs. And fiberglass, unlike concrete, doesn’t influence a pool’s pH level. This too makes pool maintenance easier and less costly. However, it has two significant disadvantages for people looking to build a smaller pool on a budget. The first is price. Fiberglass is more expensive than either concrete or vinyl. Secondly, the shape of fiberglass is set during the manufacturing process. This makes vinyl a poor fit for the kind of custom designs that often go along with smaller pools.


Vinyl’s low cost makes it an appealing option when you’re working on a pool budget. On top of that its non-porous material lowers your maintenance costs. The vinyl will resist a lot of contaminants on its own without needing any extra help. With that said, it has a big downside too. Vinyl’s initial cost is low but it needs to be replaced every 5 to 9 years. So you’re essentially saving a lot at the start only to wind up paying more long term.

small oval vinyl pool
How much of a big pool do you actually use? Often you can get the same benefits and enjoyment from a much smaller pool with fewer costs.

Some Beautiful Pool Ideas

You’ve now seen what small pools can do and what types of material you can build them with. With that taken care of, it’s time to examine how great small pools can look. Many of the latest pool design trends emphasize features that work great in smaller pools. And you’re sure to get some fantastic inspiration from the following pool ideas.

Work with your space

You shouldn’t see space limitations as a barrier any more than an artist would feel constrained by a canvas that’s smaller than his model. It’s more important to let the space you have to work with act as a guide. For example, consider a situation where you only have a narrow area of land to work with. You could go with a beautiful pool that moved over the length, rather than the width, of your yard. These are often referred to as lap pools, but it doesn’t mean it is an exercise based pool, it just alludes to the overall design style. You could even incorporate elements of your house into the design. Likewise, the beauty of your pool can act as a decorative feature when seen from your back windows. This can be further enhanced by choosing tiles that accentuate the colors in your yard.

small rectangular pool right up to the property walls
You can maximize the space you do have available and have the pool go right to the limits of your property.

Plunge into a plunge pool design

Another method of working with limited space is to build downward rather than over the width or length of your property. The plunge pool design works with a smaller size over those two metrics while providing a deeper depth than standard pools. As the name suggests, it’s a pool you can really plunge into. And the design also works extremely well with fountains and other water features. This can create a similar effect to a beautiful waterfall pouring into a deep pond. You can enhance the concept of depth even further by using dark tiles to create an illusion of space.

Minimalism is in

Appreciation for minimalist design has been growing at a steady pace over the years. And that’s good news for anyone interested in smaller pool designs. When you go with a minimalist aesthetic you can ditch a lot of the accessories that demand space. A small pool surrounded by walls or even stone slabs can create a strikingly beautiful view. This design can also be easily melded into a lot of pre-existing structures on your land.

You can take the minimalist aesthetic even further by utilizing every bit of free space that you can spare. If you only have a small area in your yard, why not use all of it? Standard fences can be converted into walls. And the barrier between pool and house can often be safely reduced further than you might assume.

Utilize your options for a variety of different shapes

The earlier discussion of pool types bought up an important point about concrete. Concrete is quite literally poured into a design. That means you’re not limited to the traditional pool shapes that you’re probably most familiar with. Natural ponds don’t have the rectangular design that we see in pools. And if you want a softer, more naturalistic feel you can aim for something that speaks to the more circular shapes you can find in natural bodies of water. And, of course, these circular shapes might offer more efficient use of your resources.

long angled lap pool
You can be creative with the shape of the pool in order to make the most of the space you have.

Going off the rails

This idea is largely dependent on the footing around your pool. If you have a naturally slip-resistant surface, or you create one during the pool construction, you might think about going without the standard pool handrails. This won’t save a tremendous amount of money. Nor does it save you a tremendous amount of space. But part of the fun of budgeting a project is stacking these little efficiency ideas. You can also extend this to general optimizing when looking at the area as a whole. Would any other features on your land let you go without standard pool ideas? For example, could you utilize high levels of sunlight to help heat your pool?

Taking the inside outside

Finally, think about repurposing utilitarian options from your backyard. For example, you might have lawn chairs in your yard. You could reclaim that space for your pool by using in-pool chairs. This would let you continue to comfortably relax outdoors. But you’d have the added benefit of doing it in your very own pool. You can even find small side tables that might replace existing, larger, deck furniture.

From Pool Idea To Cool Reality

small pool right on the waters edge with a path going through it to the jetty
Thinking outside the box with your pool can result in some really functional and striking pool designs.

You should now have a general idea of how to save money by aiming for smaller pool designs. But small pool ideas on a budget aren’t something to just think about from time to time. You need to make a solid plan of action.

Really think about which ideas spoke to you on an emotional level. And then figure out how you can fit them into your budget and make your pool idea into a cool reality.

This blog is based on information available at the time of publishing and for the purpose of sharing information with the public related to swimming pools and projects that can be financed through Viking Capital. Although we strive to be complete and accurate, it is not information that is verified or maintained. It should not be relied upon for making financial decisions. An investment such as a swimming pool is significant. Viking Capital recommends consulting with a financial professional regarding your financing decisions and with pool professionals regarding pool options. To learn what financing options are available for you today, please apply with Viking Capital and you’ll receive your free loan consultation. Click Here to Apply.

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