10+ Above Ground Pool Ideas on a Budget [DIY Swimming Pools for Cheap!]

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Summertime is when most of us need to cool off on hot and humid days. This year is no exception! 

I needed to get a pool set up quickly and started to research how. Where do I start? And how much cash do I need for an above ground pool?

These questions raced through my mind – and more questions came.

Do I build the pool myself? Do I buy it? Do I dig a hole, or do I get one above ground? 

I soon realized I was not the only one with these dilemmas around affordable pools. So – I wrote this epic above-ground pool ideas guide to help our fellow homesteaders who want to beat the heat.

Let’s look in more detail!

Above Ground Pool Ideas On a Budget

There are so many different budget-friendly ideas that I found. Here are some of the ones that stuck out the most.

  1. Stock Tank Pool
  2. Hay Bale Pool
  3. Pallet Pool
  4. Build a DIY Concrete Pool
  5. Create a Natural Pool
  6. Buy a Cheap, Easy-Setup Pool
  7. Turn a Container Into a Pool
  8. Convert a Boat
  9. Use an Old Dumpster and Turn It Into a Pool
  10. Build a Rock and Tarp Pool

Stock Tank Pools

Stock Tank Pool DIY
DIY stock tanks make the best DIY above-ground pools! Watch as Urban Farmstead walks us through the little-known nuances about above-ground pools built from the stock tank. They are easy, cheap, and durable. And they keep us cool!

After researching extensively, the least expensive pools are Stock Tank Pools.They’re 100% genius. If you want a backyard pool that you could set up in the summer and put away in the winter? Then this is your pool.

These are round galvanized tanks used for watering livestock, but many people have converted them into splash pools for the summer.

You can keep the tank as is. Just put water and chlorine floaty in for a start. But if you want to use it on a more permanent basis, you can add a pump and even a creepy-crawly.

Stock tank pools are easy to decorate; you can add style and class with a few well-placed items. You can find these galvanized tanks at feed stores, Walmart, Home Depot, Tractor Supplyand hardware stores.

The best thing about stock tank pools is that they make excellent above-ground pool ideas. And – they are cheap!

These pools are also lightweight, so they are easy to put in place but can take a lot of pressure when you add the water. So move it when into the place you want it before filling it up. They usually come in various sizes, from tiny to enormous. Most of them are two feet deep. These makeshift pools cost between $450 and $1,200.

Read More – Cool Backyard Stuff for Outdoor Adventure and Bliss! 21+ Ideas!

Build a Seasonal Hay Bale and Plastic Pool

Building a straw bale pool.

This idea is also very appealing if you have kids, as they can reinvent a different one each year. The clever concept is that you put a rectangular tarp on a flat piece of land. You then put hay bales all around the sides to act as walls. Then you put down a thick tarp, spreading it out until it is the shape of the pool you want.

Try not to go too high with the hay as it might topple over, and then you put a bunch of 5 to 10-liter plastic containers filled with water all around the sides on top of the tarp edges, tightly against the hay, and voila, you have a pool.

It is by far the cheapest above-ground pool idea I could find. Depending on the area, the cost will be $40 for two tarps and $30-$300 for hay. Also – don’t forget to collect all the old plastic containers you can find! Fill them up with water, and use them as weights.

You can also do a more permanent version of this with a wooden pallet above-ground pool. Instead of hay bales, you use wooden pallets, rounded wooden sheets, and a tarp. These look much more stylish than the hay version. You can go to Amazon to find good deals on pallets and rounded wooden sheets.

You can also build a DIY above-ground pool using cinder blocks, cement, or any heavy object that form the walls. These pools aren’t the most stable or long-lasting. But – they’re probably some of the least expensive to make by yourself.

Build a Natural Pool

How to make a Natural : Organic Pool in America

Buying an Easy-Setup Pool

It’s an upscale version of the hay pool. Easy-setup pools are premade and come with thick steel pipes and a small filter pump. A few companies make these pools, and the ones I found that were cheap but rather sturdy were Blue WaveIntex, and Bestway. They make the same kind of pool, but they differ in price.

The companies that make these pools also have steel sides that are not tarp but are a bit pricier. The swimming pools come in different colors that might help if you want a theme for your pool area.

These pools are set up effortlessly and come with clear instructions and a filter pump. If you need something better, you can buy sand pumps from Intex for $240, and they will last up to 5 years.

The Blue Wave 16-foot by 25-inch oval pool will cost you around $140.00Intex is more expensive for its 16-feet by 48-inches pool. They cost approximately $1,300 on average, but it is a 48-inch, not a 28-inch, so it has more volume.

(These companies do have specials you can look out for now and then.) Bestway also has an oval power steel 18-foot by nine-foot by the 48-inch pool for around $1,000 on Amazon.

Build a Rock and Tarp Pool for $40

DIY Pool!!! // $40 Homemade swimming Pool!!!

Building a Concrete Pool

Build a swimming pool for under $3000, not impossible
Here you see how to build a semi-above-ground pool without breaking the bank. It takes elbow grease. For sure! But – there’s no better way to unwind and relax after working all day in the hot and humid weather.

Getting contractors to build a concrete pool can be very costly. It can cost up to $50,000 if you hire someone to construct it. There is a better way to achieve a stunning concrete above-ground pool.

The best way to get more bang for your buck is to roll up your sleeves and take on a DIY project. I have found the best above-ground pool idea with instructions, and the man built the entire pool at a sloped backyard angle for $3,000. He even does a breakdown of the cost.

He built the pool on a slope, so he only needed extra support on the side that did not get connected to the ground slope. He constructed a massive swimming pool. Check out the links I put below to see how he did it.

Container Pools

How to Install a Shipping Container Pool | Ask This Old House
We love this DIY above-ground pool idea. Container pools! Check out this video from This Old House showing how they work. These pools are tremendously sturdy – and will probably last for many years.

A container pool is an excellent above-ground pool idea and can work on a medium budget. You will have to remember some things when opting for this option. The container will need cleaning.

Also – consider the removal of paint that has toxic chemicals in it. And how and where you will need the container to get moved.

Then when it is in the place you want it to be, you will have to repaint it with special paint that is rubberized and will stop rust. Some people build it up with wood at the sides and put a deck with stairs to give more support and look classy.

If you use a contractor, they build a ready-made pool off-site and install the container in the spot you want. The average cost of a container pool through a contractor starts at around $16,500ish. It is a bit more than some of the other ones we have discussed so far. But this is the best way to do it if you don’t want to tackle a DIY project like this.

Read More – Does Smoke Keep Mosquitoes Away? What About Fire? Or Essential Oils?

Making Your DIY Above-Ground Pool Look Fancy

I have seen some stunning pools that you would not guess were cheaper than a standard in-ground pool. I have seen some tremendously clever ideas that look stunning for pool decoration.

Find some of the best above-ground pool ideas below this text.

  • You could build a pallet deck and stairs to make your above-ground pool look good, help support it, and help it last longer. 
  • You can put an outdoor bar, tables, and chairs on the deck to make a lovely pool area.
  • Some people use faux rocks they bought at places like the Dollar General Stores or Walmart. Buy rounded wooden sides and stick the rocks onto those sides. Attach them to the pool and add some plants, and you have a beautiful, affordable oasis that looks good.
  • You could build a tiny bar against the pool’s frame and wrap it in thin bamboo to give a Hawaiian theme.

The ideas are endless. You can also plant plenty of herbs with white flowers or herbs that grow in the shade to add more life to your pool area.

above ground pool on concrete pad hot sunny day
This pool looks so comfy – and inviting! Building an above-ground pool by yourself is a ton of work. But – we think it’s one of the best ways to cool down after working on the ranch all day. Perfect if you need to relax after removing weeds from your garden, planting fruit treesfeeding chickens, or watering herbs.

Unique Pool Ideas

Sometimes, you find that your ideas dry up. And the creative flow has left the room.

But don’t worry!

Here are some out-of-the-box creative and unique pool ideas.

Boat Pool

Build Mini Boat Swimming Pool (Using wooden 100% )

If you find yourself out of ideas on creative pools, Why not look at older fiberglass boats. That’s right, I said to use a boat as a pool, I saw this on Pinterest, and I loved the idea; you could have so much fun.

Turn it into a pirate ship and make people walk the plank. Or make it look like a sailboat. There are so many ideas that you could come up with and explore.

Dumpster Truck Pool

recycled pools louisa dawson dumpster pool
Dumpster Pool Image via InHabitat

With a little a lot of scrubbing, decontaminating, and repainting, some people create a gorgeous pool using old dumpster skips. It is such a unique shape and looks. Some people buy the whole truck and ride around with their friends in the back, chilling in the pool.

Above-Ground Pool Ideas on a Budget – FAQs

Above-ground pools are one of the best ways to upgrade your summer – while cooling off and having fun!

But – as you know, the cost of backyard decor items has skyrocketed with everything else.

So – we’re answering some of the most common swimming pool FAQs that you may encounter.

We hope these questions help you!

above ground pool on green tarp sunny day
Need to save money on a pool? You can buy a cheap above-ground pool on Amazon or Tractor Supply for a few hundred bucks. That may be the most economical way to build an above-ground pool. Without shelling out thousands on manual labor costs or spending an entire week building an above-ground pool from scratch!

How to Build An Above Ground Pool on a Budget?

It’s easy to build an above ground pool on a budget and make it look good. Consider the following ideas.

  1. Use pallets, a thick tarp, and rounded wooden sheets 
  2. Concrete can get used for a stable above-ground pool foundation
  3. Buy an easy setup or tailor-make your pool
  4. Use straw and plastic 

After I sifted through the best above-ground pool guides and looked at ideas for affordable above-ground pools, what I found was amazing. 

Homesteaders can get surprisingly creative when faced with keeping within budget limitations. The above-ground pools that I found with the best quality and are most affordable are what I will be sharing.

What Is an Above Ground Pool?

An above ground pool is what it sounds like, a pool you either build yourself or buy at supermarkets and hardware stores. Above ground pools are (much) less work and a less expensive yard accessory than building a standard in-ground pool.

What’s nice about an above ground pool is that some of them you can take with you if you move. It is less permanent, even if it is extra work.

prefab above ground pool near forest
Everyone knows the price of materials has increased over the last few years. But – you can still save money on building an above-ground pool if you assemble it yourself. If you hire a third party to construct your above-ground pool – expect to pay more for the cost of materials. In addition to the cost of labor!


There is nothing as relaxing on a hot summer day as a nice cool swim! 

And erecting a sizeable above-ground pool isn’t rocket science. It’s made so much easier these days with many different ideas and options available, and the best thing is that most of them are budget-friendly. 

I chose to opt for an easy setup round pool. It was what would suit my family the best. 

We will also put in a deck and small tiki hut as soon as possible! 

What would suit your family the best? I usually advise that our friends go to Walmart or Tractor Supply to see if they have cheap above-ground pool kits. These companies might have sales around the summertime. Also – check BJs and Home Depot too.

I’ve noticed that the inexpensive pools don’t last that long. But – they only cost a few hundred bucks, and they are a fast way to start swimming.

What about you?

Which DIY above-ground pool idea do you like the most?

Let us know in the comments below!

And – thanks again for reading.

Have a great day!

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