Those round, galvanized steel pools are making a splash all over social media, on websites, in magazines, and maybe even a neighbor's yard. Known as stock tank pools, they are a fun, inexpensive, and versatile way to put a pool in your yard without taking out a loan. Discover 14 compelling reasons why a stock tank pool—aka cowboy pool, hillbilly pool, trough pool, plunge pool—might be your next outdoor project.
They Don't Take Up Much Space
Most stock tanks are about 8 feet in diameter by 2 feet high; smaller models include a 6 footer, while others stretch to 11 feet or more. A tank can sit on a deck, patio, or in a small yard. Just don't try to use it indoors unless you want to flood your home.
They Have That Down-Home, Farm Connection
'Stock' stands for livestock—you know, cows? Stock tanks are used as giant water bowls for cattle, horses, goats, and pigs. Gardeners use them as large raised containers for healthy soil in which to plant vegetables, herbs, and flowers. A raised container has the advantage of being up off the ground, away from critters like squirrels, raccoons, and even your dog, who may be tempted by loose, fertilized soil. They're also good for areas in which soil is less than ideal.
They're Built to Last
If stock tanks are manufactured to withstand the elements out in fields, through sun, snow, wind, and rain, they should be tough enough to hold up for a few months each year. Made of galvanized metal, you can expect little to no rust.
They Are Inexpensive
Well, they aren't the price of an inflatable kiddie pool, but that's not what you're going after. As an alternative to the cheaper kiddie and above-ground pools, stock tanks add appeal to your yard or outdoor space and are more subtle, unless you like the look of inflatable blue stuff.
A Do-able DIY Project
If you aren't handy or don't know what to do with a hammer and a hoe, don't worry. At least not too much. Depending on whether you dig a hole and sink it in-ground or build a surrounding deck for easy access, understand the scope of the project, your DIY abilities and enthusiasm, the amount of time the project will take, and extra costs for decking, a filter, or pergola. Many bloggers and DIYers provide instructions on their sites.
Sasha Eisenman, a fashion photographer and stock tank pool owner, positioned his tank pools on above-ground decks to keep desert debris from blowing in them. His advice: "Just don't forget you have to build your deck strong enough to hold the roughly 6,000 pounds of water in that tank. That's crazy-heavy. So build the decks strong. There's lots to be said for the simplicity of the silver metal tank, the DIY quality etc. In a way, it's kind of cooler than a 'real' pool."
They're Easy to Clean
Tank owners have come up with all kinds of solutions for maintaining their pools, from attaching pond, above-ground, or regular pool filters to manually sweeping with a net, to regular draining and refilling. "At first, I was draining mine frequently to keep the water fresh, but with an 8-foot tank that doesn't really make sense, so eventually I added a large pump and filter unit," says Eisenman. "It was all just trial and error. It worked great and together with chlorine tabs and a hand net, my tanks stay crystal clear all summer."
It's Fun for All
Children love a shallow pool in which to cool off. As with any container or pool of water, make sure they are supervised at all times. A child can drown in just a few inches of water. Make sure your stock tank pool has a secure cover that an inquisitive child can't pry open.
When the lights go down, your spouse or partner and maybe some adult friends can join you for a lighthearted evening sipping beer, enjoying the moon and stars, and hanging out.
They're Photogenic and, Yes, Trendy
You, your friends, colorful inflatables, floppy hats, and sparkling beverages are a fun way to pass a warm summer day and post pictures on Instagram. Eisenman receives lots of texts inquiring about the set-up of his tank pools and, as a photographer, has noticed the trend has spread. "If you look on Airbnb in Joshua Tree now, you'll see lots of these tanks. Like, you almost have to have a stock tank pool or you just 'ain't' cool—everyone has one!"
They Add Style
Not the unobtainable, look-how-much-we-spent look, but a well-curated style that is fun, clever, welcoming, and something you'll actually enjoy beyond its Instagram popularity.
You Can Maintain Their Temperature
Finding or making a secure cover should be a serious consideration before buying if you have children. "Having the stock tank pool out here in the desert where summer high temps are 100 to 110 degrees, is simply a game changer, and a life-saver," says Eisenman. "It is so nice to be able to dunk into that pool. The amazing thing is that, even in the hot weather, the water stays cool, I think, because the silver reflects much of the sun. They are just super refreshing on the hot days out here."
They're Easy to Find
You can buy a stock tank from a farm supply retailer like Tractor Supply or online from Amazon, who will deliver it to your door (according to your zip code; check before buying).
Notable brands include:
Despite nicknames associated with hillbillies and cowboys, stock tanks don't just have one look or appeal to one type of person. They can be urban, industrial, farmhouse, country, boho, hippie, desert, and probably lots of other yet-to-be explored styles.
They're Easy to Store
When swimming season draws to a close, the tank can be drained, cleaned, and rolled for storage in a garage, shed, basement, or wherever you store your stuff.
They Go Where You Go
If you decide to move, you can take your tank pool with you to the next place. Unless, of course, your design was so awesome it helped sell your house. Charles Crespi, of Las Vegas, recently sold his house and, "The buyer liked the pool so much it ended up staying there," he explains. "Now that I have a much larger yard I'm going to do something bigger—maybe use a heavy duty pond liner and make it a freeform shape. The possibilities are endless."