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What is the Best Small Pool Design for a Small Yard?

What is the Best Small Pool Design for a Small Yard?

Swimming Pool Design

With real-estate being a premium even in difficult economies, many backyards today simply don't have a whole lot of space. This being said, just because you have a small backyard doesn't mean you shouldn't consider installing an inground swimming pool. In fact, a small yard can really flourish with the addition of a small pool design and all it has to offer.

This article will discuss some of the common questions associated with installing an inground swimming pool in a small backyard, as well as some swimming pool designs for small yards.


What's the best small pool design for a small yard?

Vinyl liner and concrete pool shapes can be customized; fiberglass pools are limited to existing molds. Fiberglass pools appear to us to need the least maintenance. Freeform designs allow more patio space, and linear shapes maximize water space. Most accessories and options work with small pools just like with bigger sizes.


What is the best type of pool for a small backyard? (Concrete, Vinyl, or Fiberglass)

When considering which type of pool and pool design is best for your small backyard, there really isn't a strong advantage one way or the other, assuming you find the swimming pool size and shape you're looking for.

Example: Let's assume that you only have a 7'x21' area for the actual pool. Because fiberglass is built from molds and only come in certain sizes, and depending on who the fiberglass pool manufacturer is, it is possible that fiberglass wouldn't be an available option in this case.

Don't know which type of pool is the best choice for your small backyard? Our Pool Type Selector Tool can give you an idea of what pool type may be best for you with just a few questions!


On the other hand, vinyl liner and concrete inground pools can be whatever shape you would like, with very few limitations.

Occasionally, homeowners wonder if fiberglass pools will fit around their house because of size. In cases where the pool is too big to enter the backyard on the left or right side of the house, it is not uncommon to simply crane the pool over the house. This is rather easy to do in most cases.


Which inground pool design will offer the least amount of maintenance/work?

When it comes to small pools, it can be assumed that they take less time to maintain than large ones.

However, many variables come into play here: what type of pool you have, whether you have an automatic pool cleaner, what kind of landscaping surrounds the pool, etc.

Of the inground pool types available, fiberglass pools can be less maintenance on a seasonal and long-term level.


What is the best pool shape for a small backyard?

The best answer to this question is "it depends." 


Every backyard is different, and you have to work with what's available to you. But one key thing to remember is that curvy pools—like a kidney shape—lose some water space with their freeform characteristics, but they also allow for more potential decking space.


Here are some general pool shape pros and cons for you to consider:




  • Clean, modern look
  • Easier to do certain swimming activities (laps for example)
  • Easier to install automatic pool cover


  • Less “curve” appeal




  • Has a natural, flowing feel
  • Brings a little extra personality to your yard


  • Don’t have as much of a modern feeling as rectangle or even Roman in some cases
  • May sacrifice some swim room for curved edges




  • A “best of both worlds” - straight edges and curved ends
  • Classic vibe


  • May be slightly more difficult to include automatic cover (but likely easier than freeform)
  • May not find as many options out there as a rectangle or freeform


In our experience, rectangle pools are often the most popular pool shape overall. However, if you're limited on space and looking to at least have a lounge chair on your pool's patio, you will need at least 7 ft. of decking in that area. And if you'd like to fit a table with chairs, you'll need even more.

It is for this reason that freeform pools are very common in small backyards.

Still not sure how to choose a pool shape? Give our Pool Shape Selector Tool a try


What are the small pool trends we are seeing today?

Take a look at vacation places like Nags Head, NC; Myrtle Beach, SC; and others. Fiberglass pools have become very prominent in these areas, where the backyards are typically very, very small.

In Florida, fiberglass has grown quite a bit in recent years, but concrete pools still make up the very large majority of small pool installations in that state.

As for Texas...well, they don't tend to do things small in Texas!


Can small pools still have the same features that big pools have?

The short answer here is "yes."

You can add just about any swimming pool accessories or features you'd like to a small pool design. Features such as pool heaters, pool lights, and automatic covers are not limited by the size of a pool.

And if you're thinking about adding a tanning ledge or baja shelf, you can integrate it right into the design! You can create "premium" pools in small spaces as well – a plunge pool or cocktail pool are ideal small-yard pools that still retain an upscale vibe.


Examples of Designs We Have Available

Here at River Pools, we offer one-piece inground fiberglass pools and offer a line of designs including rectangular, freeform and roman shapes. The following are just a few examples of our designs in each shape that come in smaller sizes, as well as the features they offer:


Rectangle: D Series

  • Comes in 5 sizes (from 24 to 40)
  • Has tanning ledge
  • Deep end benches
  • Open pool interior
  • Automatic cover friendly


Freeform: I Series

  • Comes in 2 sizes (25 or 30)
  • Also can get a spa attached to either size
  • Comes with tanning ledge
  • Multiple entry points
  • Deep end seat
  • Open pool interior


Roman: L Series

  • Comes in one size (36, so not as small)
  • Spacious tanning ledge
  • Open swim lane
  • Open pool interior
  • Generous bench seat


Key takeaway:

  • Small backyards can work just as well for installing inground swimming pools as large backyards do.
  • The best type of pool for a small backyard really depends on what the end goal of installing the pool is.
  • Vinyl liner and concrete pools can be whatever shape you'd like, while fiberglass pools are a bit more limited in that area.
  • Fiberglass pools offer a lower amount of maintenance.
  • When it comes to what shape pool is best for a small yard, freeform pools are very common in small backyards, due to the fact that they allow space for decking, patio furniture, and landscaping options.
  • Small pools can still have many of the features that large pools can have.

What other questions do you have about small fiberglass pools, swimming pool designs for small yards, or installing an inground pool into a small backyard? Comment below to let us know.

If you're currently considering which type of inground pool would be best for your needs, download our free comparison guide, "Comparing Fiberglass, Concrete, and Vinyl Liner Pools in the Modern Age."




Want to learn more about fiberglass pool cost? Give our Pool Pricing Calculator a try! 


Editor's note: This blog article was originally published in March 2012 and has been updated and revamped for accuracy and appearance.

Editor's Note: Edited 10/31/22

Editor’s note (5/3/24):  
This article was written by Marcus Sheridan, (Partner, River Pools Virginia). The opinions expressed are those of the author. Any pricing information is based on information that was readily available at the time of publication.

River Pools is a brand of inground fiberglass pools produced via the River Pools division of the manufacturing facility in Fortville, IN. While our expertise is in fiberglass pool manufacturing, we are part of an extensive network of experts relating to all things inground pools. Our own collective experience from over the years spans manufacturing, project design, installation, and pool service. We often tap into this knowledge base and share information freely with homeowners, just like you, who are considering having a swimming pool installed in your backyard.