Move over, above-ground pools and kiddie pools. Stock tank pools—those round, shallow, shiny galvanized steel pools that dominate sites like Instagram and Pinterest—are replacing more traditional alternatives to 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, and trough pools and are seen everywhere from urban rooftops to Texas backyards to glamping 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.
The intended use for stock tanks is to fill them with water on farms and ranches for livestock, such as cattle, horses, goats, and sheep. Some stock tankers say their parents or grandparents used them as makeshift pools since they were lying around the farm anyway. People used smaller versions of those galvanized receptacles in the early 20th century 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 properly clean and shampoo for church the next day, pots of water were heated on the stove and then poured into a washtub for a cramped but warm bath.
Enjoy a look at 31 of our favorite stock tank pool designs—along with tips and how-tos—and get inspired.
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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 quickly found the perfect spot for the pool: in the middle of a garden with raised beds fenced off to keep it safe from animals (including the family dog). Positioned near a water faucet, smooth river rocks surround the tank. To keep 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 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, whose website, Ninnescah Made, offers solutions to modern-day homesteading. The Austins have tried vinegar and spa chemicals for cleanups, but replacing the water is the best solution after heavy use. 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."Continue to 2 of 31 below.
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In Arizona, a stock tank serves as a cool spot to watch all the dogs running around the yard of this canine rescue facility. The surrounding deck makes the stock tank feel more like an in-ground pool, and the pergola provides some shade to the dogs on lifeguard duty. It can be a refreshing spot for both humans and pets alike.Continue to 3 of 31 below.
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In her blog Let's Add Sprinkles, Texan Katie Mansfield writes about decorating, recipes, DIYing, and the farmhouse lifestyle. Back in 2015, she was a pioneer of stock tank pools and offers many tips on design and safety. Among them:
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- If the metal sides get hot, give them a splash with a hose.
- If the water isn't treated, 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 6-feet-diameted x 2-feet-high tank.
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Kristina and Wayne handcraft wall art, wood shelves, nursery decor, and gifts from their backyard studio in Oregon, which they sell through their online shop, Dream State. When the temperatures climb, they enjoy a dip 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 the stock tank pool treated with sea salt and baking soda, and when the water gets murky, it's drained and then refilled. It only takes about one to three 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.Continue to 5 of 31 below.
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A Playful Reminder
There are plenty of ways to design your stock tank pool, though we typically focus on the outside. We love what Hannah Reesor did by changing things up and having a message imprinted at the bottom using a stencil painted with a flex seal. Not only does the result look great, but it serves as a reminder that these pools are for relaxing, not diving in headfirst.Continue to 6 of 31 below.
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Back in Time
Stock tanks aren't just for those who lean into a rustic style for their decor. In California, Jenny made a stock tank pool fit perfectly with the rest of her 1960s ranch-style home. A selectively landscaped yard adjacent to a fire area with butterfly chair seating makes this DIY pool a standout feature.Continue to 7 of 31 below.
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When Nashville-based best friends Savannah and Casey set up a stock tank pool the previous year, they thought it might be nice to 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 the heck out of your pool."
The DIY duo reveals instructions for building the bench, along with topics like camping, travel, friendship–and of course, all things stock tanks– in their popular blog.Continue to 8 of 31 below.
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Concord, California, residents Brandon and Ivana Scott created the ideal hideaway in their backyard. The stock tank pool, flanked by beautiful greenery and a high fence, gives the Scotts a dedicated space to relax. By following their lead and having a small garden nearby, you have a great place to enjoy each other's company and watch the herbs and vegetables grow.Continue to 9 of 31 below.
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The owners of this stock tank pool have made it such a feature of their yard, they've given it its own establishment: the Stoneway Swim Club. With an elevated deck outfitted with matching loungers, this swim club is worth the membership fees. Incorporating the half-deck look, the style is an excellent way to show off your pool and still have a space to lay out and sit when you're ready to get out.Continue to 10 of 31 below.
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All Black Impact
Not every stock tank has to be metallic or white–there are other options to choose from. This stunning setup by Carrie Divin on Life My Style Carrie is the perfect dose of dramatic flair and relaxation. This corner has all the essentials for an ideal summer evening: a table with stool seating, lush greenery, a built-in firepit, and, of course, an all-black stock tank. The black fence with string lights as the backdrop sets the tone and invites you to stay in the pool even once the sun begins to set.Continue to 11 of 31 below.
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Bamboo walling and water-patterned lining make this stock tank pool look like a natural part of the environment. Blogger Cuckoo4Design positioned it in the side of her yard and built a rock feature to curve around the pool and serve as a spot to sit and dangle your legs into the water. The combination of stone and bamboo gives a zen, spa-like atmosphere anyone would love to relax in.Continue to 12 of 31 below.
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If you're not a fan of the thin metal rims on stock tanks that make it difficult to lean against, rest assured you're not alone. While there are various ways to fix the issue, a budget-friendly solution is to use pool noodles to pad the lining. You can even go as far as to match the color to other outdoor decor items, like Mark Ferrito of New York did here with the orange pool noodles, table, and striped umbrella.Continue to 13 of 31 below.
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One of the easiest ways to dress up a stock tank pool is by adding brightly colored accessories–whether they are in or out of the water is entirely up to you. You can take a page from real estate agent Lauren Karsten, who punched up the yard and pool at her Grand Rapids, Michigan, home with colorful floats, toys, and lawn chairs.Continue to 14 of 31 below.
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Pool Party Vibes
Instagrammer Sunwoven turned her stock tank pool into a feature of her ready-for-company backyard. With colorful yellow siding and a swan float, it's the perfect summer party centerpiece. You can obtain a similar vibe by adding outdoor string lights, a collection of lounge chairs, and an umbrella or other shelter to provide shade.Continue to 15 of 31 below.
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Paradise in the Deep South
Since the family dog often takes dips in the pool, engineer Kenneth Cardon regularly cleans the filter of the above-ground pool pump he attached to his stock tank. Cardon uses chlorine tablets and occasionally shocks the stock tank pool with liquid chlorine as maintenance. His biggest challenge: keeping leaves from large oak trees and Spanish moss out of the pool. As a solution, 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 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."Continue to 16 of 31 below.
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Protection and Privacy
When it gets hot in Gainesville, Texas, the owner of The Red Pony Boutique likes to cool off in privacy in her trough pool with a lattice-top wood screen, an 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.Continue to 17 of 31 below.
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Something to keep in mind about owning one of these pools is storing the mechanisms and other accessories like hoses and cleaning supplies that can keep things running smoothly. You don't have to leave all of the additional hoses and hookups out in the open. The duo behind Real Sisters Fixer Uppers built a nifty bench-deck combo to hide the unsightly plumbing.Continue to 18 of 31 below.
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Cool in the Sand
Dig down into the ground, situate your stock tank accordingly, then add a wood platform and some sand: You've got yourself a backyard beach. A few rolled towels and a spa-worthy tray of water and snacks make this stock tank pool setup into a desert oasis.Continue to 19 of 31 below.
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You can create a stunning retro backyard sanctuary with a few vintage touches. This 1940s-built house in Richmond, Virginia, is the perfect example, including a "hillbilly hot tub," string lights, a pink parlor-style dining set, and a hammock.Continue to 20 of 31 below.
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Tropical Ohio Hideaway
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 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.Continue to 21 of 31 below.
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Easy Access All the Way Around
Placing a stock tank on top of a bed of smaller rocks is a common sight; however, it can make it slightly difficult to get in and out. Kaari Sommers has the perfect solution: placing larger flat stones all the way around to step on. Regardless of which side you want to enter or exit, you have easy access.Continue to 22 of 31 below.
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Lounging and Swimming Together
Lisa made her stock tank pool into a transitional space. Take a dip in the stock tank pool, grab a towel from the basket, drip dry on the patio, and then kick back in the butterfly chair with your feet up on a pouf. Adding a side table where you can place a drink and a book makes for the perfect summer day.Continue to 23 of 31 below.
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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 level up with 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).Continue to 24 of 31 below.
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Private Swim Club
With privacy walls up, this stock tank pool is for you and your friends only. Adding personal signs and signature seating—like those adorable hammock chairs—are unique touches that make your backyard feel like an entirely different place. A nice added touch is to keep a stocked bar area nearby to create refreshing beverages while you're relaxing in the water.Continue to 25 of 31 below.
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Shielded from the Sun
If you live in an area surrounded by towering trees, an umbrella won't keep unwanted leaves from cluttering your oasis. The solid rooftop of this shelter keeps the swimmers cool and the pool clean of any falling debris. The wood planks on the siding make the pergola more of an architectural feature—a genius touch.Continue to 26 of 31 below.
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There are many ways to customize your stock tank pool—ask Jen Steele Payne, who dug a hole in her yard and hooked up a filter and saltwater system to hers. Trading traditional jugs of chlorine for easy-to-use salt cells allows for less maintenance overall, so it was worth the initial effort it took to install. "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."Continue to 27 of 31 below.
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You don't have to go all out when deciding how to decorate; sometimes, simple is best. The small privacy screen for the stock tank pool may not be necessary for this fenced yard, but it's a great addition, providing a spa-like atmosphere and even offering swimmers some shade. Add a few hooks and you double its use as a spot to hang towels.Continue to 28 of 31 below.
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Historic Garden Touches
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 stock tank garden pool with an old-fashioned pump-style spigot, detailed with images in their blog.Continue to 29 of 31 below.
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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 canister filter that he attached to the tank with a pool filter hose and then hung the return line on the back of the 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.Continue to 30 of 31 below.
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Made in the Shade
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, and some portable spa steps. The offset oversized umbrella is a particularly notable touch, allowing the entire stock tank pool to remain in the shade without much hassle.Continue to 31 of 31 below.
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Erin Barrett of Sunwoven shows us how versatile and stunning stock tank pools can be. We love this bright orange one that adds a vibrant dose of cheer to the backyard space. Often, people focus on changing the decor surrounding their pool to personalize the space, but why not look to changing the pool itself? On her Instagram page, Erin notes that she switches the paint color of her pool as a way to refresh her backyard every year.