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51 Awesome Backyard Pool Designs & Ideas: #23 is So Cool!

Lounging by the pool and taking a nice dip now and then can really make summer the best part of the year. Of course, it’s not often anymore that you find a plain, rectangular pool in the backyard. Most backyards have been designed around more interesting pool ideas. If you’re looking to dress up your pool, whether for a specific occasion or for a permanent design element, consider these 51 backyard pool designs and ideas that can really add character and intrigue to your pool, as well as to your entire landscape.

1. Underwater Glow

Something that adds pizzazz to any pool is lighting. Install underwater lighting for a fluorescent glow. This not only adds atmosphere and intrigue to any existing or new pool. It also makes even backyard pool designs for small yards seem larger and deeper. Consider multicolored lights that change with a timer or randomizer to keep the party rolling through the day and night.

2. Fish Tank

Installation of an inground pool can be a big project, while an above ground pool is a somewhat less involved renovation. Like this one, you can get creative with the design and turn your entire design into a showcase. Learn what it’s like for your goldfish, swimming in a literal human-proportioned tank. You could even have decorative plants and rocks put in the corners!

3. Shaped for Your Delight

People have gotten more creative with the shapes of modern pool designs for small yards. Rather than settling for a rectangle or the popular kidney shape, consider designing something that is meaningful to you. This violin shaped pool probably belongs to someone who loves music, plays the instrument, or frequents orchestral performances. Take advantage of a renovation to create a design that’s after your own heart.

4. Tropical Villa

Who says you have to stay at home to enjoy your backyard pool? Create an oasis that reflects a tropical villa in your own yard, allowing you to lounge in the Bahamas while enjoying the pool in private, at your own home. Tiki torches can double to reduce the bother of insects, and the umbrella offers shade during the hottest and brightest hours of a summer day.

5. Long & Narrow

Sometimes, it’s hard to find accommodating inground pool designs for small yards, but depending on the size and shape of your yard, you can consider the long and narrow style shown here. Adjust length and width to accommodate for the dimensions of your yard, and include plenty of space to swim laps or just relax in the pool without giving up your entire yard to the design.

6. Fire Features

Fire on water creates a centerpiece for conversation as well as a spectacular element for your own enjoyment. It doesn’t take much – a source of energy (propane or gas) and a little bit of elbow grease to build the décor. This can be added onto any pool to give it a warm, exciting glow that also helps make it a beautiful place, even in winter when it’s too cold to swim!

7. Waterfalls

The sound of water rushing over any surface and spilling into a pool below captures everyone’s attention and sends their imaginations soaring. Transport to a jungle or beneath a cliff every time you head to the pool with your own miniature version of one or more waterfalls in your design. You don’t need a lot of room, either, making it a great choice for modern pool designs for small yards.

8. Rock Walls

Coming in several versions, you can have a natural – or natural looking – rock wall incorporated into your pool design. Consider an embankment, a pile of large stones, or an actual wall of rocks. Limestone makes a pretty white backdrop, or a mix of gray stones can give your pool a mysterious appearance that intrigues visitors and makes you feel at peace. Consider installing one of your waterfalls over the rock wall.

9. Fragrant Occasions

Looking for a special way to enjoy a romantic evening? Your pool can help you set the stage! All you need is a big bag of rose petals, and you’re set to go. Sprinkle over the surface of the water, and set up your candlelight dinner poolside. After the meal (and waiting for food to settle, of course), take a dip amidst the silky, fragrant petals with that special someone!

10. A Dip in the Pond

One of the trends in outdoor design is to make it feel natural. One way to keep your pool feeling like it belongs in nature rather than looking like a manmade structure is to create it to emulate a pond. You can even add features that resemble lily pads or have small statues of frogs, toadstools, or other growing things that are part of a pond environment.

11. Poolside Seating

Never overlook the importance of your poolside seating. You don’t have to use the typical plastic loungers and wicker seats. Find something that represents your style, including teak furniture or even more permanent fixtures, like stone and concrete benches. The seating you choose creates the atmosphere as much as the pool itself, so choose wisely, especially if you aren’t the sort to change it up frequently.

12. Cocktails, Anyone?

When you go to Cancun and several other luxury hotels in tropical areas, you can have cocktails served poolside. Why not bring that idea home to your own pool? Your poolside bar doesn’t have to take up a lot of room and can be accommodated even with the most compact inground pool designs for small yards. It’s great for your own relaxation and even better for entertaining!

13. Floral Elements

The landscaping around your pool should be a part of your pool design. Ignoring this element of your backyard can lead to boredom with the concrete structure meant for pleasure. Dress it up with colorful and fragrant flowers that add aesthetic pleasure. Tulips, roses, and hydrangea bushes are all great choices for easy poolside landscaping.

14. Blending with Nature

Take the natural element a step further, surrounding your pool with the appearance of belonging in the ecosystem. Rocks and gravel can make a great segway from the yard to the pool, looking more like a pond or river running through the open field than a dugout made of concrete. Utilize other natural elements to build out the design and keep up the illusion.

15. Evening Light Shows

The right outdoor lighting choices can really affect the atmosphere of any backyard space, and the way the lights reflect off the pool’s surface creates a certain aura. Consider installing multicolored spotlights for that added emphasis on style, as well as soft whites that give an ambient, daylight glow even in the dark, both making your pool more appealing for a nighttime swim!

16. Lane Pools

Don’t feel like you have to head to the gym or the community center to swim laps. Even if your pool is mainly intended for pleasure, using it for exercise is definitely a convenience you shouldn’t ignore. At the same time, backyard pool designs with a lap lane don’t have to look like utility pools, either. You can have a decorative design that still incorporates a lap lane for your use.

17. Abstract Art

As mentioned before, you don’t have to settle for a rectangular pod of a pool in your backyard. And you don’t have to have a specific shape in mind. It could be a great deal of fun to create your own design, even if you just take some paint and splash it on paper, calling it art. The abstract shape could be used to design your pool for installation. Or, utilize natural elements around your traditional pool to create an abstract shape, giving it a unique design.

18. Water Sports

Who says you have to go to the lake to play around? You can find ways to emulate the joy of being at the lake right in your own backyard. There are plenty of games and equipment you can get to make your pool a great place to have a good time, including poolside basketball hoops and beach balls!

19. Small & Cozy

Modern pool designs for small yards are no longer in short supply. You can now incorporate all the elements you like into a tiny space, not giving up on beauty or functionality while still accommodating the need for fitting in a tight area. Whether your yard is shaped oddly or just doesn’t have the space for a full sized Olympic pool, you can still find joy in a private swim.

20. Swimming Fireside

So many people want to bring the outdoors in, but what about bringing indoors out with you? Consider installing a fireplace or a fire pit right beside your pool, allowing you to lounge in the water late in the season. Stay warm while taking advantage of the last vestiges of summer before you have to clean and close the pool for the winter with flickering flames.

21. Sandy Beaches

Another way to complete the outdoor look is to create an entrance to your pool that reflects the tropical environment of a beach. Consider the sand landing leading into the water to give a true ‘beach shore’ effect to your pool design. This works best for inground pools and can be incorporated into designs for all size yards.

22. Nontraditional Tile

Many people tile their pools, both for aesthetic and practical purposes. In this case, you can create your own tile design, giving your pool a little extra flair. Try a particular pattern, or have a picture designed that can be recognized looking down or around the edges. You’ll find it more appealing than a simple blue or white coloring. Don’t like design? Try a single color that sparks interest – maybe all black instead of white.

23. Sloped Entry

Who said all pools have to be entered with steps? Try a low graded slope down into the water’s edge. This could also help with handicapped entry into the pool as well as creating a very different space than most with your design. You could continue the slope all the way to the deep end, if you wanted, with various stages of slope to change the depth.

24. Covered Comfort

Maybe the UV rays are a bit much where you live. Especially in the south, where there are long, hot, dry summers, you may consider adding an awning to at least one end of your pool. There are tons of designs available, both fabric and wood (and even plastic or bamboo) that can create a particular style that agrees with your taste.

25. Bright Colors

Incorporate brilliant colors into your pool and its surroundings for a happy, lively design. consider brightly colored furniture or furniture pads for the chairs and table at poolside, and think about tiling a design in orange, green, or purple instead of white and other washed out colors. Make it a party of its own, just by including splashes of color.

26. Heavenly Hot Tub

By adding a hot tub to your pool design, you create a space that’s usable even in the dead of winter. Take a dip in the heated portion of your design in frigid temperatures and feel relaxed, still enjoying the elements of your backyard and pool when you can’t actually go for a swim. And if the summer nights get a little cooler than expected, slip into the hot tub to warm up!

27. Central Seating

Your pool doesn’t have to be the center of your design. When building the idea behind your pool, let the seating be the focus, and wrap the basis of your pool’s shape and size around the seating area. You can even have the seating in the center of the pool, if you like, making it a bit more unique and incorporated as an element of the pool.

28. Pebbles & Pearls

Especially in areas where it’s not easy to keep a green lawn, consider building a showcase of gorgeous pebbles and shiny stones in pockets around the pool. Make one color your theme, or choose to mix the shades for a sparkling array of jewel-like pizzazz. You can even have a fountain or a fire feature centered among the stones to give a little added inspiration to the design.

29. Grecian Inspiration

The Greek were fond of their public pools, and they decorated well. Maybe a few Grecian column-inspired pedestals featuring flower pots or other elements of design set around your pool could add that extra something it lacks. If your design seems bland, you might also incorporate some sort of Grecian design into the steps leading into your pool. Just another way to increase your enthusiasm about making use of your pool!

30. Cobblestone Approach

Dress up the walkway from your back door to your pool with a cobblestone pathway. The Romanesque inspiration can really dress up your entire landscape design and become a constant theme. Many modern pool designs for small yards utilize cobblestone for the edging of the pool as well, deflecting from the concrete blandness of old.

31. Dining and Diving

Don’t settle for cheap patio furniture, especially if you’ve worked up a beautiful pool design. create your own outdoor dining space to reflect the same elegance and style you put into the pool. It’ll make you more eager to spend time in your backyard, enjoying the meal and then taking a relaxing swim. You’ll likely end up spending a great deal more of your summer outdoors!

32. Candlelight Dips

Fire features don’t have to be singular. Make your pool a place for romance, meditation, and relaxation by adding candles around the edges of your pool. Use real candles or opt for gas ones that are lit by remote control, you don’t even have to leave the water to set the stage for a peaceful dip and time to reflect on your day. This can be especially soothing if you’ve worked long hours or been traveling.

33. Graduated Levels

Set up your pool like a multilevel pond, with waterfalls constantly moving the water from higher levels to lower ones and then pumping back to the top. This keeps the water flowing and more filtered, as well as creating an interesting design. This can also be good if you have small children, since you can cordon off part of the pool that is shallow for their use and have less risk of accidents.

34. Heated Bliss

Never underestimate the power of heat! Are you one of those people who has that urgent desire to go for a swim in the dead cold of winter but not someone who cares to become a member of the Polar Bear Club? Then consider having a heated pool, allowing you to use the facilities year round, without going into hypothermia.

35. Tiki Hut Pool House

Another way to create a backyard oasis that reminds you of the tropics is to build a tiki style pool house. It adds character that is reminiscent of the islands and offers a bit of shade for you and all your pool supplies so that you can get out of the sun for a while and still enjoy your swimming pool.

36. Concrete Design

Stamped concrete and other concrete designs create style in and around your pool. Use it to get a unique design and feel to the pool itself or to decorate the decking around the pool. This is especially cool when you live in a place that vegetation doesn’t grow easily, such as parts of California and Nevada.

37. Inspired by Nature (moss and grass)

If you want the feel of a pond ecosystem but don’t want to go all the way by turning your pool into a swimming pond, consider designs that incorporate more wild grass and moss. Rock encropments can be great resources for placing these organic materials for continued cultivation and beauty, and they look more natural when incorporated into the design in this manner.

38. Seasonal Sensations

Don’t forget about your outdoor space just because it’s cold outside and you can’t swim. Pick up some outdoor décor that keeps your backyard beautiful throughout the changing seasons. Lots of red and green can make your yard festive for Christmas, and you can even have red and green lighting for your pool that shines brightly during the holiday season.

39. In the Shallows (wading pool)

Maybe you aren’t big on swimming and just like to enjoy the cool, crisp water up to your knees, or to sit in it for a while. A wading pool is a great option for this use, and you can find lots of wading pool designs for small yards, since they are easily incorporated into smaller spaces.

40. Lazy River

A different take on a backyard space, the lazy river wraps around a small, enclosed area, even when it has an odd shape. It’s also great for relaxing, as well as for someone who likes to swim laps without getting bored of the straight line back and forth. Take advantage of a design that can be installed in even the smallest of yards without overtaking the entire space.

41. Pool Party Fun and Games

Everyone loves a pool party in the middle of summer, and you’d be lost without the equipment to start a few games. Keep your guests entertained with a variety of pool games, from diving games to competitive volleyball, basketball, and other party games. You can even practice on your own time, getting a head start so you can beat all your friends!

42. Wave Pool

You don’t have to travel to the beach to find great waves that relax and massage your muscles. With a little additional equipment, you can have your own wave pool in your backyard. Talk to an expert to find out more about modern pool designs for small yards that include wave technology, and spend time letting the water roll over you.

43. High Dive Desires

While a number of homeowners’ associations and insurance companies prohibit high dives, you can still install a diving board on the edge of your pool. Of course, opting for something that is rich in design can make it less of an eyesore, so consider a nontraditional diving board, perhaps with a waterfall that keeps it feeling a bit more natural in your pool space.

44. Pool Playground

Got kids? Check out playgrounds that are made to install inside a pool! Put it in the shallow end for safety purposes, with a slide that falls into the deeper end of the pool, and watch your children and their friends go to town. It’s a great way to play and expend energy so that your children don’t get restless during the hottest part of year!

45. Small Splash Park

The new trend in public parks is a splash pad, and you can bring this technology to your own backyard. It gives you and your family privacy without worrying about other children getting in the way, and it’s another option for your kids and their friends, whether entertaining at a pool party or just having a few visitors to ease the boredom of a long, hot summer.

46. Swimming Service (floating trays)

Take entertainment and relaxation to the max with floating service. You can enjoy your favorite meal or cocktail while lounging in the pool, not having to hold it the whole time, and you can serve guests fresh food without forcing them to leave the comfortable cool water. They also add splashes of color to your design, giving it that extra spark!

47. Barbecue & Outdoor Kitchen

What’s a pool party without great food? Build your outdoor kitchen or set up your barbecue area so that it’s easily accessible to the pool. It keeps it far enough from the back door to avoid the dangers of starting a fire while also keeping it convenient while you take a dip – you don’t have to plod all the way across a hot deck to check on the food!

48. Place in Your Space (pool in deck)

Consider inground pool designs for small yards that incorporate the pool into your deck. You don’t waste a lot of space that could be used for gardening and other vegetation, and you have the convenience of stepping out your backdoor directly adjacent to your pool space. Plus, when entertaining, you can more easily maintain conversation with guests both in the pool and seated on the deck.

49. Canoes & Camping

Rather than buying a bunch of plastic floaties that can flip over easily, think about having a small canoe in the pool. It’s great for relaxation and lounging while also offering you a seat on the water where you can read a book or magazine while still getting your vitamin D with some time in the sun.

50. Enclosed Space

If you live in an environment that isn’t conducive to a lot of time in a pool, with long winters and short summers, you can overcome this obstacle by enclosing your pool (and if it’s truly cold, adding a heating element to the water). Especially in a small space, it’s a simple process and doesn’t require a lot of material. Plus, there are a number of options for materials to use

51. Surf & Turf

Technology has come a long way, and now, you can even surf in your own backyard! With a little gravity control, you can have a standing wave in your pool that allows you practice your technique for the next time you hit the California coast. It doesn’t require a lot of space, so you can even incorporate the technology into backyard pool designs for small yards.

Conclusion

Don’t assume you have to settle for traditional appeal in your backyard. Pools aren’t just for swimming anymore. They are inspired of the need for a specific, interesting backyard landscaping (and hardscaping) design. Your pool should be a work of art that pleases you aesthetically as well as offering you a way to cool down and relax in the heat of summer. Incorporate some of these ideas into your design, or come up with one of your own modern pool designs for small yards. With a little thought and creativity, you can create your own unique idea for a complete outdoor pool space.

About The Author

Candace Osmond

Award Winning Designer, Candace Osmond has been in the industry for over a decade. She studied Interior Decorating & Design and is also an accomplished writer and multi-published author. When she's not typing away from the comforts of her desk, Candace can be found travelling to warm destinations, tending to her garden, or enjoying the outdoor haven that is her backyard. Candace currently resides in the breathtaking Maritimes of Eastern Canada with her husband, two beautiful kids and one slobbery bulldog.

1 Comment

  1. Joseph Browne

    Great article and very well explained. I believe in professionals so this is a very useful article for everyone. Many thanks for your share.

    Reply

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