31 Stock Tank Pool Designs and Ideas

Cowboy Pools Aren't Just for Cows and Cowboys Anymore

woman by stock tank pool
Dana + David
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    Repurposing Those Galvanized Tubs and Troughs

    cows drinking from water trough
    Paul Furborough / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Move over, above-ground and kiddie pools. Stock tank pools–those round, shallow, shiny galvanized steel pools that dominate sites like Instagram and Pinterest–are pushing aside more traditional alternatives to the standard in-ground swimming pools. They might be part of the farmhouse trend, industrial chic, desert bohemian, or a do-it-yourselfer's challenge. They're known as cowboy pools, hillbilly pools, trough pools, and are seen everywhere from urban rooftops to Texas backyards to glam...MOREping spots in the California desert. DIYers add decks, sink them into the ground, and come up with all kinds of creative solutions to personalize the pools and make them work for their outdoor spaces and lifestyles.

    Humble Origins

    The intended use for stock tanks is to fill them with water on farms and ranches for livestock—​cattle, horses, goats, sheep, etc. Some stock tankers say their parents or grandparents used them as makeshift pools since they were lying around the farm anyway. Smaller versions of those galvanized receptacles were used for what was known in the 1920s and 1930s as the Saturday Night Bath, a weekly ritual for rural residents who lacked plumbing, hot running water (or just running water), and/or a sewer system. To be clean and shampooed for church the next day, pots of water were heated on the stove, then poured into a washtub for a cramped but warm bath.

    Enjoy a look at a variety of stock tank pool designs, along with tips and how-to's, and get inspired!

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    Decorators' Digs

    little girls in stock tank pool
    @darcihaney / Instagram

    McMinnville, Oregon-based Matt and Darci Haney are owners of a design/build firm called MD Haney & Co., which renovates homes, refinishes furniture, builds custom cabinetry, decorates, offers workshops, and has an online shop. They enjoy their stock tank pool with their two daughters in a simple space they created with smooth stones, a wooden stool for access, and clean, clear water.

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    Just Ducky

    Dana and David Morris got by with an inflatable kiddie pool to beat the Houston heat for one summer, but, come the following spring, the couple decided to step up for a tank pool. In their blog, Dana + David, they chronicle the adventures of buying, transporting, and finding the perfect spot in their backyard. They also include detailed photos for installing plumbing for a filter, fixtures, and little extras to buy (that yellow rubber duck is actually a sanitizing dispenser).

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    Garden Pool

    stock tank pool ideas
    @ninnescah_made / Instagram

    While shopping for supplies at their local farm store, Megan and Aaron Austin's three children spied the stock tanks. "A pool!" they begged. The Austins did some quick mental measuring, realized it would fit, and added the tank to their order.

    They found the perfect spot for the pool: in the middle of a garden with raised beds that is fenced off to keep it safe from animals (including the family dog). Positioned by a water faucet, the tank is surrounded by smooth river rocks. To keep...MORE the water clean, the kids rinse their feet in a shallow bucket before entering the pool. When the water looks dirty, the Austins siphon it with a short hose and water the nearby garden beds. The siphon also works like a vacuum to help remove debris from the bottom of the pool. The tank also leans slightly for easy draining when they don't use the siphon. 

    "This system works very well for us, except when the kids have friends over to play," explains Megan. The Austins have tried vinegar and spa chemicals for cleanups, but after heavy use, replacing the water is the best solution. Would they recommend a tank pool? "Yes!" Megan continues. "We've had many hours of entertainment from such an inexpensive stock tank. Summertime in our area tends to be upward of 100 degrees most days and the cool water is refreshing."

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    A Splashing Success

    man jumps into stock tank pool
    Partickular / Flickr / Used with permission

    Yee-haw! Patrick's tank in Tucson made a big splash when he filled it up and tested the waters with some friends. He placed the pool on his brick patio near vintage motel chairs and a repurposed old bathtub.

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    Tropical Ohio Hideaway

    stock tank pool on deck
    @theparteeanimals / Instagram

    Michael and Cali Wartko of Akron, Ohio, love to travel in their spare time. But when they're home in the summer, they hang out with their dogs in the stock tank pool, which they glammed-up by pouring a gravel foundation and building a wooden deck to support the tank and keep it level. To maintain it, the Wartkos connected an above-ground pool pump and filter and shock the pool weekly. 

    Other additions include curved wooden benches, a retractable privacy screen, zero-gravity chairs, tropical...MORE plants, tikis, and torch lights. A round hot tub cover keeps the pool clean and helps it retain its temperature. Magnetic pool lights add ambiance in the evening.

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    Lots of Extras

    built-in stock tank pool
    @j_jameswesner / Instagram

    Those hot Georgia summers got James and Kylie Case Wesner to consider installing a pool in their yard. Then Kylie found a how-to on Pinterest for stock tank pools. "I thought that was a better option for us and our two dogs without doing a full-scale pool," says James. He dug a hole to sink the tank, then leveled the surrounding ground. He also dug a small pit nearby to house an above-ground filter and connected the hoses to a pond waterfall tub. After realizing their dogs had difficulty...MORE accessing the pool, they built a wooden submersible bench, which made it easier for both humans and pets.

    After the tank pool was level, the Wesners built a pergola by sinking four 12-foot 6 x 6-inch posts into the ground. They also installed a retractable shade for intensely hot summer days. Once the pool and waterfall pond were positioned, they paved the space with flagstone and mortared them in place. Recent additions include a fully filtered and dog-accessible mini pool with string lights and plans for adding surround speakers (James is a multimedia producer).

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    Customized in-Ground

    stock tank pool ideas
    @jen_steelepayne / Instagram

    Jen Steele Payne, an Indiana mother of four boys who is into interior design and yoga, dug a hole in her yard and hooked up a filter and saltwater system to customize her pool. "Of course, I wanted it in-ground," she says. "Digging through tree roots and wheeling dirt 50 yards away–I prefer a shovel to a gym any day." 

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    Kids' Play

    children playing in stock tank pool
    @carrieellegaard / Instagram

    Missouri mom Carrie Ellegard wisely keeps her children and their friends entertained yet close by with a trough pool placed on a side patio. Ellegard made sure there was plenty of seating and tables to give her a place to watch them, umbrellas to keep everyone cool, and snacks and refreshments on hand so she doesn't have to leave the scene.

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    Joshua Tree Retreat

    The hippie, bohemian, festival lifestyle is reflected at the Joshua Tree Yacht Club, an Airbnb in the California desert that offers short or long-term rentals of vintage Airstream trailers with decks and stock tank pools. Owned by longtime fashion photographer Sasha Eisenman, the pools are like a gleaming oasis in the desert.

    Eisenman bought his Joshua Tree property in 2010 and added a 1973 Airstream and stock tank. "One of the things that drew me to the stock tank was precisely that,​...MORE aesthetically, it looks so good next to the Airstream, all that silver together, shining in the sun," he says.

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    Little Farm, Big City

    stock tank pool ideas
    @littlefarmbigcity / Instagram

    Kathryne likes to fix up her cottage and has a flair for decorating, as evidenced by her Instagram account, Little Farm Big City. Her stock tank is tucked in a corner of the yard on a flagstone patio with container plants and seating so that she can keep her eye on the kids.

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    Texas Trailblazer

    stock tank pool ideas
    Katie Mansfield / Let's Add Sprinkles

    Texan Katie Mansfield blogs about decorating, recipes, DIYing, and the farmhouse lifestyle in her blog, Let's Add Sprinkles. Back in 2015, she was a pioneer of stock tank pools and offers many tips on design and safety. Among them:

    • If the metal sides get hot, give them a splash with a hose.

    • If the water isn't treated with chemicals, clean out debris in the pool by watering nearby plants.

    • A decorative tent-style net, like IKEA's Solig, keeps mosquitoes away.

    • Four people can fit in a...MORE 6-feet-diagonal x 2-feet-high tank.

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    Natural Setting

    stock tank pool ideas
    @dreamstateshop / Instagram

    Kristina and Wayne create handcrafted wall art, wood shelves, nursery decor, and gifts from their backyard studio in Oregon. When the temperatures climb, they enjoy refreshing in the trough pool they updated in 2015 with a pea gravel patio, potted flowers, and a wooden deck for easy access. The crafty couple drilled a hole for a water spigot at the bottom edge of the pool for drainage and another hole to hook up a small pool filter.

    They keep it sanitized with sea salt and baking soda and when...MORE the water gets murky, it's drained and then refilled. It only takes about 1 to 3 days to warm up, depending on the temperature (probably less in warmer regions). During the winter it's empty and the spigot is left open. Following a thorough cleaning in spring, it's good to go for another season.

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    The Real Thing

    stock tank pool
    @brokelens / Instagram

    Dry land, a windmill, and a wide and shallow livestock tank filled with water for the animals are featured in this beautiful scene. Tyler Pierce, who writes the blog, Single Ingredient Life, and who "occasionally rides his bike in places where I shouldn't," according to his Instagram profile, was inspired by this stock tank pool.

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    Customized Bench

    stock tank pool with bench
    Hey Wanderer

    When Nashville-based best friends Savannah and Casey set up a stock tank pool the previous year, they thought it might be nice to just sit around the pool with their feet dangling in. But not on that uncomfortable edge! "Can't blame a stock tank- it's not really what it was made for!" they wrote in their blog, Hey Wanderer. "Anyway, we decided to build a bench this year. It has been fantastic! Being able to sit on the edge with your feet in the water means you'll be using...MORE the heck out of your pool."

    The DIY duo reveal instructions for the building the bench, along with all sorts of other things in their popular blog.

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    California Dreamin'

    stock tank pool ideas
    @ivanascott / Instagram

    Concord, California, residents Brandon and Ivana Scott created a nectar spot in their backyard for their family to relax, have fun, and watch their herbs and vegetables grow.

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    Pool for a Shipping Crate House

    stock tank pool ideas
    @art_le_duke / Instagram

    Lacee Duke is an Austin, Texas, artist who used her creative talents to build herself a house made from a shipping crate and a stock tank pool she equipped with a sand filter. Located in an area known as Slaughter Creek Acres, Duke says of her new digs (which she refers to as Baby Shippy): "I'm digging the relation of making a habitable living space out of a once-barren and harsh environment." 

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    Peeking Cherubs

    A separate patio was built to house a stock tank pool environment that includes an electric and solar-powered umbrella, tropical plants, a funky cherub statue, and pea gravel for the backyard, owned by Tara Joie Beavers of Coatesville, Pennsylvania. Tara is a blogger who lives in an old farmhouse and sells vintage and eclectic items on her Etsy shop, Rascals Rarities.

    To install, the CountyLine pool is a 10-footer placed on a raised platform of leveled gravel, then surrounded by smooth river...MORE rock. PVC pipe plumbing from The Home Depot and a pool filter from Walmart help keep the water clean, along with chlorine tablets and baking soda to control pH levels. 

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    Paradise in the Deep South

    stock tank pools
    Kenneth Carden

    Since the family dog takes a dip in the pool, engineer Kenneth Cardon regularly cleans the filter of the above-ground pool pump/filter he attached to his stock tank. To maintain pH levels, Cardon uses chlorine tablets and occasionally shocks it with liquid chlorine. His biggest challenge: keeping leaves from large oak trees and Spanish moss out of the pool. Cardon bought an oversized 10-foot round pool cover for around $15 on Amazon. For winter maintenance, he came up with the idea of using a...MORE queen-sized air mattress to float on the water, which keeps the cover from sinking or collecting debris from the oaks.

    "The problem-solving and low cost of all of it has been intriguing for me," says Cardon. "Plus, my black lab thinks it's great."

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    Bluegrass Evenings

    It's hard work to run the organic Infinity View Farm in Kentucky with 44 animals and beehives. So at the end of the day, Erin Smith and her husband, Jason Redmon, relax in their 8-foot stock tank pool. "It's a great way to close the day," says Smith. Naturally, the plastic-free farmers use very little, if any, chemicals in the tank. Redmon runs the manual skimmer daily to keep it clean and it only needs to be filled once each season.

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    Summerville Garden Pool

    stock tank pool with goat
    @jenpanehalpelayo / Instagram

    Hawaiian natives and high school sweethearts Jennifer Panehal and Chris Pelayo bought a historic 1850s farmhouse in Summerville, South Carolina, which they write about on their blog, Flowertown Charms. The married DIYers set up a garden pool with an old-fashioned pump-style spigot—​all detailed with images in their blog. Be sure and check out their menagerie of goats, big fluffy dogs, chickens, and cats.

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    One-Person Pool

    stock tank pools
    @the_man_in_the_chair / Instagram

    When Charles Crespi moved from a Boston home on a large lot with an in-ground pool to a much-smaller home in Las Vegas, he realized that building a new pool would be too costly. Inspired by a stock tank pool he saw on Pinterest, Crespi went to a local farm supply store and bought an oval model—8-feet long by 2-feet high and capable of holding 360 gallons of water. 

    He added an Intex cannister filter that he attached to the tank with a pool filter hose, then hung the return line on the back of the...MORE tank. He plugged it into a timer and ​ran the filter for a few hours each day. Other than mild evaporation from the Las Vegas heat, he says it was maintenance free. "Overall, I did this whole project for about $300, including flagstone and a few LED solar lights around it," says Crespi. 

    The DIYer recently sold his Vegas house. "The buyer really liked the pool so I sold him that too; it stayed with the house," says Crespi. "I'm currently planning a new water feature project at my new house in Vegas now that I have a larger yard."

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    Neon Dreams

    stock tank pools
    @lauren.karsten / Instagram

    Dog-loving and -rescuing real estate agent Lauren Karsten punched up the yard and pool at her Grand Rapids, Michigan, home with colorful floats, toys, and lawn chairs. 

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    A Touch of Mod

    stock tank pool ideas
    @themightyburro / Instagram

    Four large concrete pavers, some stumps, an umbrella, and a vintage butterfly chair give a mod vibe to the patio and tank pool pad at the Los Angeles home of set designer Patrick Dunn-Baker and Erika Leon.

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    Protection and Privacy

    stock tank pool with cover
    @theredponyboutique / Instagram

    It gets hot in Gainesville, Texas, so the owner of The Red Pony Boutique likes to cool off in privacy in her trough pool with a lattice-top wood screen, umbrella in a galvanized container, and some colorful towels. The cover helps keep the pool debris-free and is a smart, safe idea when children are around.

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    Made in the Shade

    stock tank pool design ideas
    @debjeanadams / Instagram

    Deborah Adams is a real estate agent in Phoenix with an eye for design. She dressed-up her own backyard stock tank with a ceramic stool and lanterns, float, poolside chair, offset umbrella, and some portable spa steps.

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    Padded Edge

    stock tank pool ideas
    @bar607 / Instagram

    ,That orange padded rim is made from pool noodles, which picks up the orange table and striped umbrella. Owner Mark Ferrito of New York built a raised deck for his stock tank pool, which is enjoyed by his family, friends, and dog.

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    Personalized Pool

    stock tank pools
    Julia Restin

    Julia Restin found a spot for her pool between the lawn and mulch and added pavers to make sure no bark chips get in the pool. To add personal style and comfort, she added noodles on the edge (nice for leaning against), a fun wrought iron candelabra, hanging glass ornaments, and a skull.

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    Pint-Size Pool

    stock tank pools
    Jamie

    School teacher Jamie Stephens lives with her husband and their two children in a pretty house she loves to decorate and photograph inside and out. A friend helped her haul the tank home on a trailer. The pool is a big hit with children, who find there's plenty of room to actually swim.

     

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    Big Floatie

    boy playing in stock tank pool
    @debdamico31 / Instagram

    Salem, Oregon mom Deborah D'Amico likes to tackle DIY projects on her own, including a mini-forest in her backyard with enchanted string lights. Her son, Gianni, enjoys a tank pool that sits in her yard for a quick splash or relaxation with a ride-on inflatable.

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    Vintage Charm

    A 1940s-built house in Richmond, Virginia, is the perfect setting for vintage outdoor decor that includes a "hillbilly hot tub," string lights, a pink ice cream parlor-style dining set, and a hippie-era hammock.

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    Dunkin' Cowboys

    stock tank pools
    @shelly.a.childress / Instagram

    Deep in the heart of Texas, the sons of Shelly Childress are genuine cowboys in training. When chores are done, it's time for a dunk in the big-wide tank.