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Backyard Pool and Hot Tub Ideas 2022

Backyard Pool and Hot Tub Ideas 2022

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Aerial shot. R40 rectangle pool by River Pools with a square spillover spa and tanning ledge add-on.

You may be stumbling onto this article because it’s hot where you live and you want a pool. Or, maybe it’s colder outside and your mind is stuck on a fancy hot tub. Either way, you’ve made it here, and welcome! We’d love to go over some backyard pool and hot tub ideas, whether you’re in the market for one or both. 

We thought the best way to go about this would be to start with hot tub pros and cons, inground pool pros and cons, and then get into if it’s worth having both and what your options are.


Here at River Pools, not only do we love crafting and installing inground fiberglass pools, but we also have a passion for pool education. When homeowners decide they want an inground pool, It can be overwhelming. Trust us when we say we’ve seen it before: the uncertainty, the questioning and even the doubt as homeowners decide what pool is right for them. Seeing how difficult this decision can be first hand, we realized a long time ago that - while sure, we care about our fiberglass pools - we really care about helping homeowners pick a pool that will let them spend time with the ones they care about. Even if it isn’t fiberglass.


Anyways, let’s get on to the main event: pros and cons of hot tubs and inground pools.


Hot Tubs and Inground Pools - Pros and Cons

You’ll probably hear this with most things in life: everything has its pros and cons. The same is true for hot tubs: the advantages and disadvantages of hot tubs are a real thing, but how much one outweighs the other will depend on your situation and what you’re looking to get out of hot tub ownership.


Let’s start with the pros: 

  • It gets hot. Obvious, we know, but even if you put a heater in your pool, a hot tub tends to get into higher temperatures and be better suited for soaking in them.
  • They have therapeutic qualities. This can be argued for pool swimming, as well, as water exercise has been shown to provide a great workout. But, similar to when you take a hot bath to soothe muscles or aching joints, the hot water a hot tub provides can have the same effect - but in style. The jets that come in hot tubs also can be great for relaxation.
  • Your yard may not get as messy during install as it would with a pool. Don’t get us wrong - installing any inground feature of this nature is going to cause some disturbance. But to be fair, the hole needed for an inground pool is much more significant than that of a hot tub.
  • Lower maintenance costs compared to a pool. Less water means less chemicals needed to maintain it.


And here are some potential cons:

  • They’re not very big. Lap swimming isn’t something that’s going to be happening very much in a hot tub (or much swimming at all for that matter). If you decide that you want to try out that new water aerobics routine you saw online, your hot tub probably isn’t going to cut it.
  • They’re more limited in your design choices. Since you’re limited on space, this means you’re not going to be able to get some of the fancy features you might find in an inground pool, like tanning ledges. (You might not need one, but hey, it’s nice to have that choice, right?)
  • You may need to obtain a permit. You may have been saying to yourself “I’ve heard of permits for swimming pools, but do you need a permit for a hot tub?” This will depend on the regulations where you live. Some places may only require a permit if it holds over a certain amount of gallons of water, so always double check with a builder if you’re considering a hot tub. 


Inground pools are a little different, since they are, well, much bigger than a traditional hot tub.



  • They provide space for you to move and swim freely, but also lounge. How much swim room is available versus lounge space will depend on the design of your pool, but generally speaking, you’ll have much more room than a hot tub regardless of what size the pool is.
  • They create a statement. This isn’t to say a hot tub can’t do the same, but an inground pool tends to catch eyes and give your yard an auto-luxury boost.
  • They offer more unique design options. Inground pools can feature tanning ledges, courtesy ledges, zero entries and more depending on the pool type and what manufacturer you choose.



  • You’ll more than likely need some sort of permit. Similar to hot tubs, what permits you’ll need will depend on your location and any local regulations in place for private residence pools. Your pool builder will often be the best source to find out what permits are needed and if it’s your responsibility to obtain them.
  • Your yard will probably get a lot more messed up during the installation process. This is something we like to be transparent about with customers: when we install inground fiberglass pools, there is going to be a mess to clean up. The excavating, hauling dirt, plumbing and all other things that go into the install are untidy in their very nature. Your yard won’t look this way forever, and it’s all a means to an end - the end being a beautiful pool.
  • Higher maintenance costs than a hot tub. Like we said, there’s more water to manage and maintain here than in a hot tub, so you’ll likely spend more on chemicals to keep it balanced. How much you spend on pool maintenance will depend on what type of pool you go with. Click here to see our resource hub comparing the three inground pool types, or click the button below to download our three inground pool types comparison eBook (it’s free!)


Download Our Pool Type Comparison eBook!

Is It Worth it To Have Both?

So, we compared having one over the other, but is it worth it to have both? Theoretically, can hot tubs be used as pools? Well…we’d say no, not really. But maybe this depends on how you define pool usage: if you see a pool is a place to sit, unwind and float/relax, then yes, a hot tub would certainly be able to serve that purpose. However, you won’t have as much room to swim in a hot tub as you would an entire pool. It may be worth it to have both in your yard if you plan on using them for different purposes: for example, you plan on lap swimming in your pool and relaxing after a long day in the hot tub.


Options for Inground Pools and Hot Tubs

Besides getting a pool and hot tub separately, there’s also options for pool and hot tub combo designs. When working with concrete or vinyl, which allow for custom designs, you have the opportunity to create a pool with a spa within it if you so desire. Since fiberglass pools come pre-made and pre-designed, you would have to locate a manufacturer that carries a pool-spa combo design in their line. As an example, this is the X36 pool model by River Pools. This is a rectangle pool with a hot tub and tanning ledge, all in one.


Aerial shot of X36 pool model rendering by River Pools.


There are certainly designs out there that offer this duo, some may be freeform while others are rectangle pool designs with a hot tub. There’s also a level of convenience to owning a design like this, as it’s easy to shift from pool to tub to tanning ledge in any order. Plus, everything is packaged as one and doesn’t require extra excavation outside of the pool shell itself.


Leaning more towards keeping the two separate? No problem - there are many, many options you can choose from. When it comes to fiberglass, there are choices out there to suit all sorts of fancies - modern rectangular pool designs, carefree freeform designs, classic Roman designs. 


Aerial shot of M35 pool model by River Pools.

Aerial shot of I30 pool model by River Pools.

L36 pool model by River Pools in a landscaped backyard.


Each style of pool creates a different feeling, so it’s best to decide if you’re going for a more modern/clean look (rectangle), a natural look (freeform), or a classical/historic look (Roman).


See What Fiberglass Pool and Spa Designs We Have To Offer

Spas often will come in either square or circular designs with the option of adding a spillover. What exactly is a spillover spa, you ask? It’s exactly what it sounds like: a spa that is specifically cut and designed to allow water to overflow into your pool like a waterfall. Here’s a nifty little diagram that shows how spillovers work versus a regular spa:


Illustrated infographic that shows how water flows through a filtration system with a heater in a regular spa versus a spillover spa.


A spillover pulls water from your pool, circulates and heats it, then releases it back into the pool. Folks tend to choose this option because of its elegant feel.

Closing Thoughts

We hope this gave you all the inspo you needed to come up with some backyard pool and hot tub ideas. In the end, both pools and hot tubs are great options when you want somewhere to unwind and have fun. Like we mentioned at the beginning, our goal is to help homeowners create a space where they can bring together the ones they love. If you’re looking to invite over your coworkers or book club peeps for an evening of recouping, an inground pool is (in our opinion) the perfect place. Or maybe you like to keep it low-key, and your idea of a perfect evening is relaxing with your partner at home - so a hot tub is calling your name. Either way you go, we hope you use it to have some great times with great people.


No matter which direction you choose, if you’re interested in pursuing it with fiberglass, consider trying out our pool cost calculator for an estimate on your pool (or hot tub) project, or you can request pricing directly with a River Pools dealer in your area.


Here’s a few more resources in case you’re not quite sold on fiberglass just yet: