Cheap DIY swimming pools

Updated April 17, 2017

Having a swimming pool in the back yard is the perfect way to relax with the kids on a hot summer day. But most in-ground swimming pools cost over £6,500, and above ground pools often have to be taken down in the winter to prevent weather damage. An easy and cheap alternative is to build your own DIY in-ground swimming pool.

Purchase a livestock water trough. This is the cheapest and easiest way to make a swimming pool at home. It can be installed either in ground or above ground. Livestock water troughs come in a variety of sizes up to 700 gallons. These tanks have rounded edges and are made from a high density polythene, which stands up to the weather.

Obtain required permits. Installing an in ground pool will require a permit from your city. Even if you decide to make it an above ground pool, the city government may require you to have a permit, so discuss your pool plans with the city before installing your new DIY pool. Some cities may consider a pool under 1,000 gallons to be a fish pond or koi pond, in which case it should not require any permits.

Dig a hole for the pool. The hole needs to be as deep as the water trough and at least 2 inches wider around all the sides. Using a shovel is the easiest way to accomplish this digging, but it will take several hours to complete.

Fill the bottom of hole with 2 inches of sand. The sand needs to be level and smooth before the water trough can be put into the hole.

Insert water trough into hole in ground. This will require the help of two to four people as the water troughs can weigh up to 54.4 Kilogram. The pool will now sit two inches above the land, which gives the option of adding decorative stone pavers or cement around the pool.

Fill the empty space around the water trough compactly with sand. It may be necessary to let the sand sit overnight and naturally compact, and then add more sand on day two.

Add paving stones around edge of pool. Using simple paving stones in any design you would like, place them around the edges of the pool and out at least four feet to allow for a sitting area near the pool. You can take the paving stones out farther in order to make a more elegant seating area with lounge chairs.

Install pool filtration system. You can use a basic pump and filtration system from any above ground pool. These can be purchased at a pool supply store or discount superstore, or you can look for a used one in the newspaper. Installation will vary depending on the style of pump. You will need to secure the main pump to the ground and guide the filter hose into the pool. There will be a clamp to help keep the hose on the side of the pool. If you do not want to keep the pump right near the pool, you can hire a plumber and electrician to help install the pump farther away from the pool.


It is possible to keep this pool above ground. These large water troughs are designed for farmers to keep above ground, and they will hold up to the weather nicely. You will have to purchase a pool ladder to get in and out of the pool if you choose to keep it above ground.


If installing the pump farther away from the pool, it is advised to hire the plumber and electrician for this task. It can be dangerous to bury electrical cables if you are not an experienced electrician, and obtaining proper water flow is difficult to manage when placing the pump farther away from the pool.

Things You'll Need

  • 700-gallon water trough
  • Sand
  • Shovel
  • Path paving stones
  • Above ground pool pump and filtration system
  • Pool (fish pond) permit
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About the Author

Lindsay Zortman has worked as a writer since 2001. Her work focuses on topics about cancer, children, chemical dependency, real estate, finance, family issues and other health-related topics. She is a featured writer with the National Brain Tumor Foundation. Zortman is a nationally certified counselor and holds a Master of Arts in counseling from the University of South Dakota.