Can You Put an Inground Pool in a Small Backyard?


A swimming pool is able to instantly provide a backyard with a wow factor. But many homeowners have smaller yards located in clustered suburban areas. Lack of space can be a cause for concern and questioning whether you can put an inground pool in such a small backyard. The good news is that in most cases, the answer is yes.


If you use a little creativity and take essential factors into consideration to make certain design arrangements and shape choices, then you’ll be able to put the perfect inground pool in your small backyard.


There are several ways in which you can make your backyard look more attractive and stylish than your neighbor’s. Most homeowners do with a temporary, above-ground swimming pool. But you can take it a step further by taking space out of your backyard to install a permanent inground version.

Inground pools are a perfect, value-increasing addition to the property, and they can be enjoyed by the whole family year-round if you live in a warmer climate.

If you want to learn more about what factors to consider when planning an inground pool for a small backyard, here is all the information you need to know. So, without further ado, let’s dive into it.


What Actually Is an Inground Pool?

An inground pool is constructed through the excavation of the ground to the required depth and shape. It is simply installed below ground level, with the water placed “in the ground” and thus, it is even with the backyard’s surface. Consequently, more often than not the pool complements the design of a house and its surrounding landscaping.


How Big Does a Yard Have to Be for a Pool?

When a homeowner dreams of owning a swimming pool in their backyard, probably no one imagines a compact water container that has just enough space to wade in. An ideal inground pool is often pictured as large and extending beyond the views of a lawn, fence, and the surrounding grounds.

Despite desiring a vast pool, homeowners must have the proper space to work the design in. Attempting to fit a large pool in a small backyard would prove as futile as a large sofa in the middle of a hallway!

You cannot create a crowded property, eliminate room for furniture, landscaping, grass and other nature, or make the pool dangerous with a deck that’s too narrow. This is why pool contractors suggest that extra space must be left for nature elements (e.g. lawn, trees, shrubs, or flower and vegetable garden). Without this your property is destined to lose its value, not mentioning a lack of space for play if you have children or pets.

Natural features also help with filtering noise, softening the backyard’s appearance, and cooling the air.

Make sure to allocate paved areas as routes for foot traffic. In addition, it is recommended to leave ample space for outdoor furniture like umbrellas, sun loungers, table and chairs, and sofas as these accessories prove necessary in terms of relaxation and entertainment.

Children should have plenty of room to play sports and roam freely in the backyard. However, it’s important to leave some space to install a fence for safety and supervision.

In ideal circumstances, the pool should be designed in a way so it’s large enough for swimming but not to the point in which it takes up the entire backyard grounds. Pool contractors recommend for small yards covering only 1616 sq ft (150 sq meters), a pool should be built no smaller than 215 sq ft (20 sq meters) and no larger than 92 ft (28 m).

The pool should only fill up about 25% of the backyard. On the contrary, a pool that is smaller than 25% will often appear too small unless vast landscaping is used to break the area and make the whole design look proportional.



What Small Inground Pool Sizes Are Available on the Market?

In general, small inground pools are far easier and less time consuming to maintain than similar pools of larger sizes. This is for the simple fact that the smaller a pool is the less the owner will have to vacuum, brush, and provide chemicals to clean it up.

Furthermore, they are considered cheaper due to the lower volume of water requiring less chemicals, reduced time to run the filter, ease of heating or chilling, lower electricity usage, cheap retiling /replastering /refinishing, and a reduced cost of refilling after seasonal drainage.

Depending on the manufacturer or contractor of the inground pool, small sizes will often vary. However, all of them use the standard dimensions for pool construction that include 10×20, 12×15, 12×24, and 12×26.

The majority of these types of pools are around 10 ft (3m) or 12 ft (3.7m) wide at a maximum length of 26 ft (8m), with the typical depth between 4 ft (1.2m) to 5.5 ft (1.7m).

On average, a small inground pool will be approximately 5 ft (1.5m) deep, 24 ft (7.3m) long and 12 ft (3.7m) wide as these sizes are the most popular among pool buyers. As a result, a great number of vinyl liner kits, concrete designs, and fiberglass models will include these specific dimensions.


What Size Inground Pool Should You Get?

When deciding on an inground swimming pool size, it is essential to consider the purposes of which the pool is going to be used.

If someone is planning to lay around sunbathing and simply cool off in the water once in a while, a large pool is completely unnecessary.

However, if one is planning to spend a significant amount of time in the water, it makes far more sense to get a more spacious size. Swimming for exercise proposes two different routes. The first is to design an elongated shape in the form of a lap pool; the second is to include a smaller “spa” pool with water jets that allow for swimming in place.

Regardless of the choice between the two options, the pool should be deep enough so that the swimmer does not injure their hands near the bottom.

In the instance that you want a diving board, the pool will not only be required to be deeper but also wider for the fact that a person cannot dive into the wall by accident. What’s more, due to the hazards of diving boards, the pool’s minimum size may be dictated by either the insurance policy of the homeowner or by local law.

Also, if the pool’s main purpose is to serve as a focal point or backdrop for the backyard, a smaller design would be best.

Ultimately, the pool should be built large enough for the activities that a homeowner wants to pursue without wasting money or space on pools that are too large.

For families of more than three members, larger pools are often necessary to accommodate activities for every age group. When a pool is to be used by adults only, the homeowner may want to construct a space with a greater average depth to maximize the swimming area. If children are to be active participants as well, a shallow wading area in which they can splash around might also need to be included.

The mobility of individuals using the pool should also be considered and whether or not they will be able to climb in and out using a ladder. In case there are accessibility issues, a shallow end should include either a beach entry or steps. It is important to keep in mind that if a transitional slope exists for moving from one depth to another, a longer pool should be created.

Additionally, it’s important to consider not only how many individuals but who will be using the swimming pool. In a big family, a larger pool where all participants can spread out should be constructed.

While some of them may become less interested in swimming over time, new individuals, like guests, may drop in for a swim as well. As such, you should always choose the pool with a long-term use goal in mind due to the fact that it’ll be there to stay for decades.

Size is probably the most important factor in terms of cost of development, with the homeowner’s budget limiting how large the pool can actually be, or even force a trade-off between the quality of materials and size.

Larger pools need a lot more time to look after. Hiring a pool service proves to be time-efficient. But if a homeowner is planning to perform the pool maintenance themselves, the size can be a huge factor.


How Many Square Feet of Patio Space Do You Need for a Pool?

The majority of homeowners require anywhere between 600 to 900 sq ft of patio around their pools. This is enough for a couple of chairs and a table, some sun lounges, and an ample walking space around the edges of the pool. The patio should be mostly joined into one or two areas, instead of distributing it evenly.

For different pool features, the patio will need different amounts of available space. As an example, conversation areas for 3 to 6 individuals are suggested to have a 10×10 ft (3x3m) area. Dining areas for 4 individuals should also have this minimum area requirement. On the other hand, if the dining area is extended for 6 to 8 people, the space should be 12×12 ft (3.7×3.7m) at a minimum.

Sun lounges require at least 4×7 (1.2×2.1m) for their area but can be enough at 7×7 (2.1×2.1m) for just two of them. At least 30 inches (76cm) should be plenty between the pool’s edge and any surrounding furniture.

Traffic areas and other pathways are recommended to be a 3 ft (0.9m) wide at a minimum for all points. A small table and two chairs will typically require an area of 6×6 (1.8×1.8m) as well as a grill with a side table.

If a base of steps is to be included between the water’s edge, 6 ft (1.8m) of space is needed. For any hot tubs, the average requirement is 10×10 ft (3x3m). Any fire pits require an open space of 30 to 36 inches (76-91cm) in between the seating area and the pit itself.

Slides need 7×15 ft (2.1×4.6m) for their minimum area beside a pool and diving boards require 8×6 ft (2.4×1.8m) at the pool’s long end.

If any water features are to be included, homeowners should allow a minimum of 24 to 30 inches (61 to 76cm) of room between the edge of the patio. Outdoor showers require a 5×5 ft (1.5×1.5m) area at the minimum.



What Is the Smallest Size for Inground Swimming Pools?

What qualifies for the smallest possible inground pool size is one that requires less than 200 sq ft (18.5 sq meters) or 10,000 gallons (37,855 liters) to cover the area.

These can include vinyl pool kits that are anywhere from 10×10 ft (3x3m), 12×18 ft (3.7×3.7m), and 8×24 ft (2.4×7.3m). However, the smallest inground pools are usually of rectangular shape, with as many as small as 6×8 ft (1.8×2.5m) with poured concrete.

Many small-sized pools are 5 feet (1.5m) deep or less. But the depth of the smallest ones can vary from 24 to 72 inches (61 to 183m). Bare in mind that swimming pools of such small sizes are not recommended for diving.


What Is the Best Type of Inground Swimming Pools?

There are three different categories that exist for inground swimming pools. These are vinyl liner, fiberglass, and concrete. Each of them is classified by their specific material of construction with various pros and cons. Depending on the homeowner’s budget and what they want is what will ultimately dictate the best type to purchase for constructing their inground pool.


Vinyl liners are the most popular in the northeastern region of the world. There are three different varieties of vinyl liners. Of these, the first one includes a steel wall vinyl that is typically created with stainless steel or galvanized panels. The second one includes a liner made of polymer/composites, and the third one includes cement.

Of all the vinyl liners, the most popular include cement and steel wall pools as the greatest advantage to these types is that just about any style or shape can be built with those materials. This is due to the fact that steel and cement are structurally sound and can be easily molded and cut into any look, dimension, or feel.

Unfortunately, steel wall liners are liable to oxidize and eventually corrode. Above all, it is not recommended to use this type of material in the event that you live in an area with a high water table or tone that does possess soil capable of holding water.

Polymer/composite pools are far more limited due to the locking and pinning system utilized to assemble panels. This provides more restrictions in terms of their structure, yet they possess a far longer lifespan in comparison to steel wall pools.


Fiberglass pools are common but they are not the best option in comparison to other types as they are one piece. They are developed in a controlled environment that is inside a factory, then shipped directly to the house of the buyer. During the construction of such as pool, a precise hole is initially dug and then the pool is lifted and inserted directly into the ground. Many of these types of pools come bundled with a standard set of love seats, benches, and sun decks.

The greatest benefit of owning a fiberglass pool is the fact that it has a much faster installation period in comparison to other types as well as extremely low maintenance costs over the long term.

In terms of price, fiberglass inground pools can be put in the middle despite the fact they are often ranked the most inexpensive from a consumer point of view. Although they may not be as expensive as concrete pools, they are often more costly than vinyl liners. The greatest drawbacks to fiberglass pools include shape and size as they cannot be customized and generally fail to come in a multitude of varieties.

What’s more, they cannot be utilized as diving pools nor come in the shape of an L or T due to their need to be transported in a single piece form. Finally, the majority of manufacturers only offer them in 2 to 6 color variations.


Concrete pools, often termed shotcrete or gunite pools are the last of the three types. Considered a more higher-end than most, concrete pools do not possess any of the limitations of the prior two types, complete with an interior finish that can include a colored or white plaster. Other finishes exist as well including but not limited to pebble, smooth glass bead, and quartz, creating a unique product each time.

Concrete pools can also include porcelain, glass, or ceramic tile bands that are surrounding the entire pool. They might also be specially constructed with perimeter overflows, negative edges, or built-in bars and benches.


In general, of the three different inground pool types, vinyl liners are considered to be the most economical, and fiberglass ones are thought to be the middle ground. Concrete type pools are the most expensive as a result of the labor and material costs. Each of the three types clearly possesses its own pros and cons with the correct choice depending on budget and the features that the buyer considers most important.


How to Choose the Inground Pool Depth?

Various factors influence the recommendations for the depth of an inground swimming pool. Individual choice, the pool’s purpose, and its users have an effect on the entirety of the design process.

As the pool’s depth is a personal choice of the homeowners, it is a very important aspect of choosing a swimming pool for a backyard. You must pay special attention to the safety measures in order to prevent accidents and injuries at all costs. Shallow waters can cause injuries if you attempt diving. On the other hand, deep waters can lead to drowning for children and poor swimmers.

If the pool is supposed to be used by both adults and children, it should measure a minimum depth of 3 to 5 ft (0.9-1.5m) with a length of 25 ft (7.6m). Most adults are happy with the 3 to 5 ft standard depth, where the height of the shortest member determines the ideal maximum.

Small children and toddlers should be provided with a space no deeper than 2 ft (0.6m) as the area in which they splash or walk in, doesn’t need to be too big. Anyhow, in many cases, kids have separate pools but for those who are good swimmers, they can have an L-shaped design.

The water should be sufficiently deep to enable the swimmers free movements and so they don’t scrape their limbs on the pool’s floor. Advanced swimmers often find that the length should be larger than the depth of the pool. In this case, a depth of 3.5 ft (1.07m) should be considered the minimum.

For any sports activities like volleyball or basketball, the water’s depth should allow individuals to maneuver with ease as well as stand up or swim at will. Consequently, the depth should be consistent over the given area to make the game fair, and anywhere between 3.5 to 4 ft (1.07 to 1.22m) is best.

The aforementioned measurement is also ideal for waist-high depth in which individuals are simply entering the pool to lounge or cool off.

In the event that someone likes jumping feet-first into the water, the depth of 4 ft (1.22m) or more is required as this will largely eliminate the possibility of injuries. Also, this depth will be sufficient to absorb their impact.

When diving (head first), avoiding a head and spine injury is crucial. Thus, the deep end of the pool should be no less than 10 ft (3m) deep to allow a space between the diver’s body and the bottom floor.



Choosing the Location: How Far Does a Pool Have to Be From the House?

After you have selected your pool, you can start positioning your inground swimming pool in the right location in the backyard. Think carefully about how far you want the pool to be located from your house.

The greatest factor that has an effect on the distance of a pool from the house are building codes. The distance is determined by a so-called setback, i.e. how far a pool can be from the house and property lines. The distance of a setback varies by zone area and neighborhood, and it is regulated by the building permits division of local governments.

In some cases, this distance can be as small as 3 to 5 ft (0.91-1.52m), or as large as 10 to 20 ft (3.05-6.10m). Rivers or streams that run through the property are likely to increase the setback to as much as 50 ft (15.24m) or greater in resource protected areas or designated wetlands. Regardless of the circumstances, it’s recommended that homeowners contact their local building and zoning department directly to check the requirements for their specific home address.

However, it’s worth mentioning that a pool should never be installed less than 4 ft (1.22m) away from the house foundation. Depending on the pool’s depth, this could cause the pool structure to interfere with the 45-degree bearing slope of the house foundation. Besides, if the pool was located closer than 4 ft, there would be little space to safely walk between the pool and the house.


Most Popular Inground Pool Shapes and Designs for Small Yards


Rectangle Pools

They have a classic shape and are most preferred by pool designers because this shape will never go out of style. Due to lack of space, most small backyards tend to adopt this shape for their swimming pools. Rectangular pools provide clean edges designed to reinforce the elegance of the property and to perfectly coordinate with its surroundings.


Lazy L Pools

This type of pool is shaped like the capital “L”, where one end of the L is smaller and narrower. The other end is wider and this is where people mostly hang out. The L-shaped pool is suitable for small backyards with unique space needs.


Lap Pools

A lap pool is an excellent choice for those who enjoy using the pool for exercise and swimming laps. It can provide any length and width the user regards as necessary. A lap pool may become a beautiful oasis when designed with the right landscaping.

Also, if the design is changed to an “L” shape, the pool is going to include areas both for lap-swimming and for activities or games.


Freeform Pools

They are shaped to the visualization of the designer and their contours don’t need to conform to the rules of geometry. Freeform pools are the most customizable and space-friendly which makes them an ideal choice for the majority of properties.

A freeform pool blends in seamlessly with its surrounding natural setting and can mimic a secret oasis, tranquil waterway, or a tropical lagoon.

Homeowners who want to incorporate their pool into an asymmetrical space that’s already formulated should choose the freeform pool type.


Geometric Pools

Geometric pools are most appropriate for modern and contemporary properties as they are full of squares, triangles, rectangles, and other thoroughly developed shapes. They rely on the precision of mathematics for their good looks. Their designs feature specially added elements such as spillways, fountain bubblers, plantations, overflows, stairs, or vanishing edges.


Kidney-Shaped Pools

They offer a soft, retro look that can be used with a great number of architectural styles. The irregular shape of the kidney-shaped pool offers a more natural lake feel. This is why a kidney-shaped pool is very popular among homeowners.

Pool designers like to use this shape as a foundation for creating other, more fancy projects, and customizing it by adding accents like glass tile, textured finish, natural coping, colorful plaster, or even an artificial waterfall.


Do You Need to Have Insurance on a Pool?

As insurance for a given pool is directly covered under the personal liability section of any homeowner’s policy. Thus, separate insurance for the pool itself is not needed.

Due to the fact that swimming pools can be dangerous and very risky, despite precautions taken, insurance companies and agents advise pool owners to increase their personal liability limit from the standard 100 thousand to 300, or even 500 thousand. This is for the purpose of protecting homeowners in the case of a tragic accident or death, which will result in medical and legal costs.

On top of that, homeowners are urged by most insurance providers to buy a separate “umbrella” policy as well. This can provide up to 1 million in personal liability protection and will supplement the personal liability policy.

Additionally, homeowners must also check whether their insurance policy covers damage to the pool itself, for example from installation or adverse weather conditions.

You should also ensure that the pool installation company or manufacturer is insured. These companies and contractors often have their own specific pool insurance policy that decreases their liability should an accident happen.


Key Takeaways,

You don’t have to give up on having your dream swimming pool if you don’t own a large backyard. Inground pools come in all sizes and shapes, and remember that a bigger pool doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better.

Small inground pools will work for the vast majority of backyards provided that they follow distance regulations and accommodate the aesthetics with the surrounding landscaping and furniture.

The different pool types are meant to work perfectly with all homeowners’ ranging budgets, yard sizes, and other limitations.

Saying that, an inground pool can be a substantial investment for every homeowner, especially if it includes custom features such as an adjacent jacuzzi. But the return on investment for homeowners and their families who enjoy splashing in water and swimming is enormous on inground pools.