Budget above ground pool ideas: 8 affordable designs

Our budget above ground pool ideas will help you stretch your savings without having to sacrifice style

above ground pool with small deck
(Image credit: aerogondo/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

With our budget above ground pool ideas, you can enjoy all the benefits of these fun garden features without splashing the cash.

If our above ground pool ideas have got you inspired for one of your own but you'd prefer to keep down costs, you'll be pleased to know that there are plenty of options to try. By using reclaimed materials and a spot of DIY, or even by choosing price-friendly plants to surround the space, you can create a stylish swimming zone, while sticking to your budget.

Cool down without breaking the bank with our budget above ground pool ideas

If you're looking for a chic and affordable way to refresh when temperatures soar, these designs are sure to provide plenty of inspiration.

1. Use a reclaimed stock tank for your above ground pool

above ground pool at Hampton Court Flower Show 2022

'The Vitamin G Garden' (opens in new tab) at Hampton Court Garden Festival 2022, designed by Alan Williams with Jo Whiley

(Image credit: Jacky Hobbs)

Although there are lots of stylish designs to choose from in our best above ground pools guide, if you're looking to cut down on costs, you could opt for a design made from a reclaimed stock tank instead.

Stock tank pools have had a surge in popularity lately, and with their low price tag and industrial-chic aesthetic, it's easy to see why. They're ideal for cooling off on a hot summer's day, and you don't need acres of space to accommodate one.

This plunge pool was spotted at RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival 2022, and we love its minimal metal look. Meanwhile, the surrounding planting and rustic accessories add a welcome element of softness to the scene.

2. Build your above ground pool's perimeter with pallets

above ground pool with deck and fencing made from pallets

We love this space belonging to @karaokecat (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: @karaokecat)

Above ground pool deck ideas are a top way to merge these features seamlessly into a plot, and they don't have to be expensive if you keep them compact. Plus, as the setup above demonstrates, they also provide a useful space for seating.

Cat Chez and her family hired a handyman to build this deck that surrounds the stock tank, who shaped the edge to follow the curve of the pool. It was Cat's idea to fabricate a pallet garden wall for a rustic look. She slipped 3-inch potted plants into the pallets and added dragonfly lights. It's a lovely way to up the sense of privacy and ambiance without breaking the bank.

The pool's rim is softened with foam pool noodles – another budget-friendly solution – which is good for when children visit. Last year, the Chez family hosted a birthday party for 10 splashing kids.

3. Add a fuss-free flower bed nearby

above ground pool with deck and flowerbed

Soften the scheme with stake lights and plants

(Image credit: Bombaert Patrick/Alamy Stock Photo)

Adding flowers and shrubs around your above ground pool is another effective way of blending it into its surroundings. And with our tips on how to get free plants, you can fill the space with plenty of greenery for cheap.

Make life easy by taking inspiration from our low maintenance garden border ideas – that way, you can spend your time enjoying the cool water rather than endlessly tending to the nearby beds. 

A couple of staked solar lights, rustic stepping stones, and a simple wooden deck complete this affordable setup which will only improve in its good looks as the plants establish.

4. Opt for a small decked space for post-swim socializing

above ground pool with small deck

A simple deck will elevate the space

(Image credit: aerogondo/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

As mentioned, a sturdy surface for seating is a great accompaniment to an above ground pool. That way, the space effortlessly turns into a hub for alfresco socializing, especially if you bring a fire pit and outdoor lights into the mix.

Luckily, there are lots of cheap deck ideas to make this sort of setup a reality on a budget. Even a small and simple design like this one shown above will elevate your poolside experience – just add a bistro set and perhaps a potted plant or two for the perfect finishing touches.

5. Make a saving with an inflatable pool

inflatable pool on lawn

This style of pool is quick and easy to install

(Image credit: Sergei Finko/Alamy Stock Photo)

An inflatable above ground pool is well worth considering if you're on the lookout for cheap garden ideas. These designs are often more affordable than hard-framed alternatives, but still provide everything needed for a refreshing dip. Some models even include filter pumps to help keep the water clean.

What's more, they're quick and easy to install and can then be deflated and stored away once summer comes to an end.

6. Position your above ground pool on budget-friendly gravel

above ground pool on gravel

Gravel is a good choice for a permeable groundcover

(Image credit: kmatija/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Landscaping with gravel is one of our favorite budget-friendly approaches for gardens. It's inexpensive, versatile, easy to lay, and suits all sorts of backyard schemes. And it can make an ideal surrounding for an above ground pool, as it will help soak up splashes.

Just ensure the space directly beneath your pool is flat and sturdy. An above ground pool pad is a useful addition to protect the base.

7. ...and create a statement stepping stone pathway

stock tank pool from Cowboy Pools on gravel with garden building

This pool from Cowboy Pools (opens in new tab) is offset beautifully by pebbles and paving

(Image credit: Cowboy Pools)

One of the only downsides to gravel is that it's not the comfiest material beneath bare feet. So, when pairing it with an above ground pool, consider adding a few large pavers nearby to create a smooth yet non-slip path for getting to and from the water.

We like how the stepping stones in this scene gently arch around the pool, as they lead towards the cozy garden cabin. It's a cheap, fuss-free, and easy-to-install approach, but looks super stylish and is practical, too.

8. Transform a small tank into a petite paradise

outdoor bath

This setup by @Kristian_Stojek (opens in new tab) is full of clever budget-friendly features

(Image credit: @Kristian_Stojek)

Kristian Stojek enticed a friend with a bottle of wine and some gas money so that he could borrow their truck to haul a stock tank from Tractor Supply to his home in the historic district of Savannah, Georgia.

His setup features plenty of clever budget above ground pool ideas. For instance, he got resourceful with decking by repurposing a pallet he found on a street behind his house. Kristian stained and waterproofed the pallet and added cement blocks, pea gravel, and shells for hardscape and a flat surface to place the tank. Making sure the ground is level is imperative, he emphasizes.

In humid Savannah, 'it's easy to turn a stock tank pool into a mosquito breeding ground,' says Kristian. He highlights the importance of above ground pool maintenance, explaining how a pool filter saves time and money.

He drilled two holes in the tank to attach an Intex pool filter that circulates the water twice an hour. 'This is the biggest factor in keeping the pool clean and happy,' he says. Kristian also recommends using a floating chlorine dispenser. 'If a chlorine tablet touches a part of the tank for an extended time, it can rust out that area.'

A marine-grade plywood custom-cut cover fits snuggly on top of the pool. When it's not being used, he throws a blanket and pillows on top for a charming sitting area. Which is not too often – 'the stock tank is always in use,' he adds. 'I don't think we have a choice because our friends like to use it just as much as we do!'

Holly Crossley
Acting Deputy Editor

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.

With contributions from