Unless you have a huge backyard, significant funds (seriously—thousands or tens of thousands of dollars), and the time to keep it pristine, installing a pool is not achievable. At least, that’s what my parents told me growing up, every time I wished for one on a hot summer day. For the pool-less like us however, there were other creative, pack-it-away-when-you’re-done means of keeping cool that were, let’s say, more nostalgic (and fun): slip-n-slides, kiddie pools, the good old sprinkler.
Lately, though, everywhere I look, I’ve been seeing another alternative that’s a little closer to the real thing: stock tank pools. First, there was one on the Instagram story of a friend, charmingly set onto a patio with fairy lights strung above. Then a second. And a third.
What were all these stock tank pools, I wondered, and how could I get one?
I did some digging and found that stock tank pools are actually pretty standard farm fixtures. They are made from galvanized metal (sometimes, plastic), are generally round or oval-shaped, and are traditionally used to hold water and feed for livestock. (They’re basically “oversized metal buckets,” as one article puts it.) Thanks to an extended stay-at-home directive, some ennui, and lots of ingenuity, they exploded in popularity as a relatively simple alternative to a pool. Less swimming pool, more plunge or soaking pool (they’re typically only about two feet deep, but can go up to about 10 feet in diameter for round tanks), they have the potential to turn your home into a pretty great vacation spot. And at a fraction of the cost involved in digging up your backyard to build a swimming pool.
They’re also far less tedious to install: All you need is some sturdy and level ground to set it up. However, it’s not as simple as buying one, plopping it down, and filling it up. This site has a pretty good overview of how to go about it. The tutorial reiterates that it’s also equally important to know how to maintain your pool: You need to treat your pool once a week to keep consistent chlorine levels, and replace the filter every couple months.
Stock tank pools are also a lot better looking than their hardy origins suggest. True, they were originally designed for agricultural purposes, not to "look good," but that's exactly what I like about them: their simple, minimalist look. Leave them bare-boned, paint them, or build a deck around them—they'll look pretty good no matter what. If I ever move out of New York City, I just might get one myself.
A corner of designer Bri Moysa’s cement patio becomes a pool deck thanks to a stock tank pool (painted black) and a mini wrap-around deck. Note the hooks on the fence for keeping towels handy.
This Instagrammer’s minimal stock tank pool is softened with a couple of potted plants, no involved landscaping needed.
No need to hem yourself in with any one pool vibe, either: Erin Barrett, designer and owner of Charleston-based Sunwoven, paints her stock tank pool every summer, which we think is such a fun idea. We are fans of this year's choice: a serene pale turquoise, but here are a few shots from summers past.
A petite deck built around the curve of the pool via @stonewayswimclub in Austin that's just big enough for two loungers (and provides a place to sit for those who just want to dangle their feet in). Or you could have a rubber duck for company.
Stock tank pools can be set in the ground, too, like this mini oasis spotted on Stock Tank Pool Authority. An umbrella, cacti, and lounger complete the picture.
A bright stock tank setup via Andria Garcia. Word is that the metal keeps water cool, even on summer days. What would keep it ever cooler? A vine-like climbing plant grown to cover that beautiful trellised roof.
Proof that these pools look pretty darn good left undone: this white one in a super-minimal desert setup via Joshua Tree-based wedding photographer Victoria Bonvicini.
A stock tank pool with a cute-as-a-button mural and some "No Diving" stickers? Yes please. Head on over to @heywanderer for a full patio DIY breakdown.
The owner of this enviable pool actually found it on a movie prop sale! Talk about great luck. What also caught our eye? That adorable flamingo beverage cup holder—we could think of a million beverages we'd like to sip as we soak.
This pool setup in a Joshua Tree retreat takes things to the next level. Seemingly everything's better in Joshua Tree.
An oasis if there ever was one! We love the styling of this backyard—and have our eye on those comfy-but-stylish outdoor lounge chairs. Safe to say: If this was ours, we'd never leave.
Look at the Scandi sauna-like vibe on this! And that tiered seating means that you can go from lounging to dipping in literally one step.
A teeny stock tank pool via Stocktankstore—outfitted with an ad-hoc outdoor shower setup and set in a secluded spot—becomes an extra refreshing place to spend a summer afternoon.