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Great Pool Designs for Small Backyards

  Feb 27, 2019 / by John Faulkner

Backyards keep getting smaller and smaller. Heck, all kinds of things are getting smaller. Tiny houses are all the rage. We all carry tiny super computers in our pockets. There are toy-sized breeds of animals. It feels like everything is getting downsized these days.

But, while backyards are shrinking, demand for backyard pools is not. Much like you can now find a puppy that fits in a tea cup, you can find a pool that fits in a small back yard.

In our article “How Small of a Pool is too Small?”, we established that the average size of a backyard swimming pool is 600 square feet. For the purposes of this article, I’ll try to constrain the designs to no more than 25 feet long and half that in width, so roughly 300 square feet. Some of the designs we’ll look at will be even smaller than that. Such as...

Cocktail Pool


The cocktail pool, also known as a plunge pool, is essentially just a tiny version of the traditional backyard swimming pool. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes, though you usually find them in rectangular forms. The cocktail pool is a great option for the homeowner with a small yard who just wants to be able to take a dip.

Latham released a fiberglass design for a cocktail pool in 2018. This pool measures 6’ by 10’ with a depth of 4’. It has built-in benches on 3 sides and stairs on the fourth. It’s a great way to add a shimmering centerpiece to a small backyard.

Cocktail pools are mostly for leisure, for having a soak on a hot day or bringing a few friends over for a pool party. For those who want a backyard pool for exercise or therapeutic reasons, then you may want to check out our next kind of pool.

Swim Spa


The swim spa is another design that has risen to prominence in recent years. The earliest swim spas - or countercurrent swimming machines, as they are sometimes called - were basically aquatic treadmills, allowing for lap swimming without the need for a long lap pool. Eventually someone added more spa components and more seating, and the swim spa that we know today was born.

The swim spas that Latham offers, the Hydro Zone DXL and Hydro Zone E, are a little larger than the cocktail pool. They measure 18’ long by 8.5’ wide. The Hydro Zone DXL has a built in spa so you can soothe your achy muscles after your swim. These designs also have benches so you can sit and enjoy the water when you’re not exercising. They are extremely versatile pools, especially when you consider their size.



Freeform pools are popular designs for smaller backyards. Their curvilinear designs actually pack more swimming area into less perimeter footage than a rectangular pool. Also, these eye-catching shapes offer a bunch of different options for decking around the pool. Latham manufacturers several small freeform fiberglass shapes that are perfect for smaller yards. Our smallest kidney-shaped design takes up less the 150 square feet of space. 

Some freeform designs aren’t great for lap swimming, so keep that in mind when you’re choosing or designing your own backyard pool. However, they do offer many places for seating, and the curves of the design lend themselves to the addition of decorative water features or a spillover spa (if you have the room).

Lap Pool

Panama-1 fiberglass lap pool

Although lap pools can be rather long, a shorter design might be just what you are looking for in a small backyard pool. Lap pools tend to be relatively narrow (our fiberglass offerings are 12' wide)  and come in a variety of lengths. A 25' by 12' lap pool offers plenty of room to swim laps without exceeding 300 square feet.

If you want a pool for exercise purposes the lap pool is a great design, especially if you don't want all the extra bells and whistles you get with a swim spa. Again, these do have to be a little longer than the other designs on the list, but on the right plot of land a small lap pool is an excellent option. 

The Choice is Yours

These are just some examples of pools that play well with a small backyards. Also, I know I mostly referenced fiberglass designs. Latham Pool produces a number of fiberglass models that fit into tight spaces, like Blue Hawaiian's Sandy Cove or Trilogy’s Discovery. Other types of pools, like vinyl liner swimming pools, can be designed with almost any shape, so your local pool builder should be able to come up with something that will fit your backyard. 

The most important takeaway from this article is that even if you have a small backyard, you can still have a great backyard pool. And while you might have to compromise on size, you don’t have to compromise on style or features.

Find a Local Latham Pools Dealer

Topics: Pools, Fiberglass Pools, In-Ground Pools, Pool Fitness, Latham Pool Products, Swimming Pool Ideas, Pool Design Ideas, Pool Design Trends

John Faulkner

Written by John Faulkner

John is one of the newest members of Latham Pool Products marketing team. His background is in journalism, but he has worked in marketing for manufacturing companies for several years prior to coming to Latham. He is also a big music fan, enjoys video games, and likes to travel when he can.

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