Natural stone, water features, creative shapes: no matter the size of your backyard, you can have that pool you've been dreaming of if you follow our expert tips.
We bet you can't wait to have your own pool to dive into, but don't make the mistake of thinking of it as a standalone element. Instead, for a superior result and a paradisiac corner that you'll never get tired of, start with a bigger vision that takes the rest of your backyard into consideration.
How can your pool complement it? What vibe would you like to inspire as soon as you hear the sound of the water? And what space challenges can you turn into creative opportunities?
To help you get there, our team of exterior designers have brought you a wide range of small backyard pool ideas you can experiment with.
1. Add a pergola next to your backyard pool
If you live in a particularly sunny area, you need a flexible way of enjoying the sunshine while also having some shade to read outside or for whenever the weather gets too hot.
A backyard pool and a pergola are a winning combination, and the latter will elevate your entire garden.
Place some furniture underneath its open roof to create a special corner to relax or catch up with friends.
2. Complement it with the right seating area
Unless you’re really tight on space, you don’t want your new backyard pool to be in a dead corner: ideally, it’ll become the place around which you’ll gather with your family member and friends whenever you’re catching up outside.
3. Turn it into a relaxing paradise with some hammocks
Secretly wishing you were sipping a cocktail in Bali? Your new pool can bring very similar vibes right to your doorstep.
Use a tall fence (especially wooden options) to close that area from the outside world, go big on plants and greenery, and think outside the box when it comes to seating solutions.
Instead of the usual deckchairs, wouldn’t it feel even more relaxing to hang around your pool (literally)?
4. Add a light to your small backyard pool
When you think of your new pool, we bet you’re picturing a bright summer afternoon, but your watery heaven can come to life when the sun goes down, too.
As well as creating a charming ambiance by placing smaller lighting fixtures around it (such as torches, lanterns, or recessed floor options), consider adding a light to the actual pool, perhaps choosing a color that complements the rest of your palette.
5. Plan your pool around your greenery
While your pool will undoubtedly revolutionize your backyard, it doesn’t have to get in the way of your beautiful plants and flowerbeds.
See how this irregular-shaped pool is designed around the edges of the small stone wall behind it?
If you do something similar in your backyard, you’ll also get to feel like you’re properly plunged in nature whenever you go for a swim.
6. Create different layers
If you have a long section of raised flower beds or if your backyard follows a bit of a slope, that’s an excellent opportunity to take your pool idea to the next level… literally.
For example, you could have a larger main section at the bottom to relax and have a little swim, and a smaller pool on top where you can sit around with your friends.
7. Experiment with transitional decor
Your new pool area could be a balanced blend between the tidy sleekness of contemporary styles and the coziness of traditional decors.
Then, add a homely feel through your garden decor, like these charming lanterns and warm-colored cushions.
8. Aim for a Mediterranean feel
Imagine having the most picturesque European summer right in your backyard.
When planning your new pool, you could surround it with natural stone tiles, large terracotta pots, and loungers or furniture with particularly ornate lines. Wrought iron pieces tend to be the best for a bit of a French country twist.
Bonus Mediterranean points if you add some climbing flowers, too.
9. Create a sleek, contemporary pool and backyard
If your home is a brochure-style example of contemporary decor, your pool can become its natural extension.
Stick to clean lines and, if possible, a simple rectangular shape. You can then complement it with garden furniture in the same style, such as neutral hues (especially black, white, grays, and light brown shades), sleek shapes, and functional pieces.
10. Optimize a really narrow area
Don’t you dare think that you can’t have a pool just because your backyard is too small!
Look at how well this household has optimized their particularly narrow outdoor area with a thinner but long pool.
Save even more space by making the most of the existing fixtures around it: wouldn’t it be so refreshing to jump right into your pool from one of your doors, like in this case?
11. Reinforce your building’s European vibes
If your architecture already showcases some European influences (such as stone walls or clay roof tiles), your pool could help you emphasize them.
Think natural stone, large pots, and a yellowy or greenish pool light that creates a nostalgic feeling for past summers in idyllic settings.
12. Take your windows into consideration
Of course, you’ll be outside when enjoying your pool, but that doesn’t have to be the only way.
If the layout of your house allows it, place it right in front of a large window, french door, or glass wall, so that you get to gaze at it when you’re sitting indoors too.
This is especially recommended if you’re creating a well-designed area with plants, lights, and other aesthetically pleasing fixtures.
13. Consider an infinity pool
We bet you’ve already seen them in some exotic photos on Instagram and tried to picture how it would feel to relax in one.
An infinity pool has at least one edge over which the water can flow. By implementing it in your garden, you’ll create an illusion of space and could even turn that side into a small waterfall.
14. Experiment with round shapes
When picturing backyard pools, we tend to think of simple rectangular shapes. In some cases, however, round designs might be a better choice for you.
First of all, they’re visually appealing and more harmonious by getting rid of sharp edges. Circular pools can also help you optimize round corners, carve a separate section into a large area, or meet specific design requirements like in the case of this wooden patio.
15. Create a small and rectangular backyard pool
Backyard pools aren’t only used to swim back and forth: unless you’re training for the Olympics, don’t let a lack of width stop you.
If your space is limited, think of them as a spot to relax in the water, even by sitting down. You can then make that area more appealing and charming by implementing other space-saving ideas, much like these cohesive tall pots with plants.
16. Place it next to your patio
Picture this: you’re catching up with friends underneath your patio roof, enjoying a refreshing drink, and then you all decide to head for a swim.
This setup means that you wouldn’t even need to take up more room with additional loungers: perhaps you could opt for some lightweight and versatile patio furniture that you can temporarily move into the sunshine whenever you wish to sunbathe, too?
17. Introduce a splashing waterfall…
There are several ways to complement your new pool with a charming waterfall. You could use it to connect the layers of a pool designed that way, implement an infinity edge, or have a separate stone-style feature that feeds into it.
Or how about something that will make the entire neighborhood jealous, like this delicate but attention-grabbing waterfall falling from the roof?
18. … or other water features
Here’s the thing about waterfalls and water features: they’re charming and hypnotizing to look at, but you’re mainly going to fall in love with their calming sound.
These gushing or bubbling harmonies will help you feel at peace and relaxed as soon as you step outside. And just imagine how soothing it would feel to sunbathe or read while hearing these gentle water features in the background!
19. Have a pool where you can sit and catch up
If you haven’t got the largest backyard section left or aren’t able to dig into it to introduce a traditional pool, think vertically.
A round or square Jacuzzi-style feature would be ideal to sit in the water with a drink, perhaps when catching up with friends or throwing a small party.
20. Make the most of your views
Green trees, maritime landscapes, or some mountains in the distance: if your house looks onto a relaxing or breathtaking scenery, why miss out on it when you’re chilling in your new pool?
As long as the layout of your house and garden allows it, you should definitely try and plan it in a way that lets you make the most of those views when you’re swimming around or relaxing, too.
21. Aim for a distinctive palette
Building and decorating a cohesive-looking backyard can add to a sophisticated sense of style and balance, and your new pool can actively help you do that.
In fact, you can use it to create or reinforce your existing palette. So, don’t forget to take its surroundings into consideration when designing your new pool.
For instance, this model with several light blue shades looks divine next to those brown tiles.
22. Have your own exotic paradise
Your pool area can help you switch off from the outside world and feel like you’re always on vacation.
A trick is to go crazy with plants, and especially tropical and exotic ones like palm trees or cycads.
Consider surrounding a couple of your pool edges with them so that their green leaves will be all you can gaze at when you’re relaxing.
23. Blend your small pool with the rest of your backyard
Not a fan of the most contemporary-looking pools with straight lines? Rather than relying on the newest cutting-edge design, your pool can almost feel as if it formed spontaneously like a pond.
To achieve this charming vibe, choose irregular shapes, and surround your pool with natural stone tiles and walls.
Another trick is to add steps in the same material to smoothen the transition between the pool and your garden.
24. Create different sections
To avoid a messy or crowded result, you can plan your backyard design strategically and optimize your existing space by dividing it into different sections.
How can you do it tastefully? Use hedges, natural elements, small walls, or even contemporary solutions such as rows of recessed floor lights or these plexiglass panels.
25. Place your small backyard pool next to some sheltered seats
Leaving your garden furniture out all the time might require more maintenance if it rains a lot.
Not up for moving it every time? Opt for a pool next to a sheltered element like a pavilion or gazebo.
Not only will it be a functional solution to relax in the shade without having to worry about the weather, but it will add to the rest of your garden decor, too.
26. Have a jacuzzi within your pool
Are you known for your creative decorative flair? Not up for compromising when it comes to your unique vision? Your new backyard pool doesn’t have to be an exception to the rule.
If you’re torn between a large pool where you can go for a swim and a fancy jacuzzi to chill out with a drink, the right layout will give you both… for the floor real estate of one!
27. Make the most of your wasted space
Just because you haven’t got enough room for a traditional recessed pool, it most certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t fit one at all!
A game-changing trick? Planning it around your existing features, and especially a spot with different levels.
As you can see in this example, pressing a pool against two existing vertical surfaces can help you fit one even in backyards where space seems to be a pickle.
28. Optimize it for al fresco parties
If one of the reasons behind your new pool is to throw the most memorable parties, leave plenty of room along at least two of its edges, and include a light: that way, your guest can walk around it comfortably and safely.
Planning on serving dinner, too? Allow enough space for a table and chairs, perhaps by breaking free from basic geometric shapes, like this design with an additional corner.
29. Complement your annex
Whether it’s your office or an additional seating area, your annex can be a great place to start when planning your new pool.
First of all, you’ll get to gaze at it when you’re sitting inside, which always makes for a relaxing view.
The pool could also complement its architecture and symmetry: we love how this one is aligned with its wide entrance.
30. Prioritize sunbathing around your pool
Make the most of your backyard’s layout so that you can include a pool while leaving a larger section of floor space to create your own stunning sunbathing area.
31. Make it the star of the show
If you haven’t got many plants and weren’t looking to introduce additional large features, your backyard could literally be all about your new pool.
In that case, be bold with its size and shape, but don’t forget to leave room for the right furniture for you to enjoy it with your other household members and friends.
32. Turn your classical dream into a reality
Have you always been fascinated by Roman baths or the majestic architecture of ancient Greece? Then this new pool can be your excuse for a classical revival.
As well as plenty of plants and greenery, consider playing with columns, urn-shaped pots, and materials like marble or terracotta.
33. Design a sophisticated small backyard pool area
Attention to detail can really pay off and elevate your backyard. For example, how about a pool in a less predictable shape, like this octagonal masterpiece with rounded corners?
This entire backyard is delightfully symmetrical—from the position of the loungers to the largest pots—and yet it includes some elements that break it consciously.
The result? A majestic setting that looks like the garden of a five-star hotel.