Charleston, South Carolina - Image Provided By: Heritage Pools LLC - Image Shown: Fiberglass Harmony, Milan Majestic Blue

Charleston, South Carolina - Image Provided By: Heritage Pools LLC - Image Shown: Fiberglass Harmony, Milan Majestic Blue

Inground Pools for Small Backyards

January 21st, 2022 by

Summer is just around the corner, and it’s the perfect time to start thinking about installing a small in-ground swimming pool. While many homeowners dream about having their own personal oasis to share with family and friends, those with smaller backyards may feel as though it’s an unattainable dream. If this has been a concern of yours, we’ve got great news: no matter how compact your space is, there’s a way for you to enjoy some fun in the sun and water. The flexible designs, shapes, and sizes of a fiberglass or vinyl liner pool make it possible for you to design a gorgeous centerpiece for your property. 

In this guide, we’ll answer some of your most frequently asked questions about small inground swimming pools, from minimum space requirements to the most popular pool shapes for compact yards. And if you still have questions, the expert team at Latham is here to help. Not only can we provide you with answers to all your FAQs, but our custom-made swimming pools can also be crafted to meet your unique specifications, delivering superior quality and durability at any price point. With value-adding features like lights, steps, tanning ledges and more, you can truly design the swimming pool of your dreams — even with limited space. 

What Is Considered A Small Inground Pool?

The average size inground swimming pool is larger than 600 square feet. A small, or ‘boutique’ swimming pool is typically considered to be one that is 600 square feet or less. Depending on the shape, size, and design, a small inground swimming pool could still be used for aquatic exercise, as well as purely for recreation. While waterfalls and other water features may be incorporated into a smaller-scale swimming area, diving is not recommended. A small pool will usually be no more than 5 or 6 feet deep. This ensures that homeowners get the most usable space out of their pools.  

How Much Backyard Space Do You Need For A Small Pool?

Many homeowners want to know, “Can you put an inground pool in a small backyard?” The answer is absolutely yes! As you might be surprised to learn, as little as 1,200 square feet of backyard space provides enough room to install a stunning pool. Not only is it possible to install a pool in a small yard, but with today’s innovative technology, there are more design options than ever before to choose from. 

We’ll talk about those design options in a moment — but before we go over the aesthetic possibilities, it’s important to review some basic safety considerations. For example, in order to ensure safe installation and use of your pool, you’ll need to select a model that isn’t too large, small, shallow or deep. You’ll also need to calculate the dimensions of your yard, plus the access area where the pool will be installed, which plays a role in determining how large of a pool you can build safely. 

Before putting in a small inground pool, we strongly recommend discussing your construction needs with a pool expert, or using one of Latham’s trusted apps for pool owners, such as our AR Pool Visualizer Application. We’ll also discuss yard and pool sizes in detail later on in this guide, providing you with additional information about how to plan your pool safely. For now, let’s take a look at some of the most popular shapes for small inground swimming pools. 

What Shape Is Best For a Small Swimming Pool?

Because every backyard is different, there’s no black and white answer to what pool shape is best for a small yard. While some may dislike the fact that curvier kidney-shaped pools lose some water space, others love that this allows for more decking space for lounge chairs and patio furniture. Working with a design specialist to assess your property and demands will enable you to come to the right solution for your home. However, there are some fiberglass pool shapes and designs that easily lend to being used in a small backyard.

Small Backyard Pool Designs

Limited space doesn’t have to limit your design options. From classic to modern, there’s a wide range of looks and styles available for small inground pools. But how should you choose the best style to meet your needs and specifications? For example, what style is best if you want to swim laps? Keep reading to learn about three of our most popular small pool design options, including cocktail pools, freeform pools and lap pools.

Cocktail Pool

The cocktail pool, also known as a plunge pool, is essentially just a tiny version of the traditional backyard swimming pool. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes, though you usually find them in rectangular forms. The cocktail pool is a great option for the homeowner with a small yard who just wants to be able to take a dip.

Latham released a fiberglass design for a cocktail pool in 2018. This pool measures 10′ by 16’ with a depth of 4’. It has built-in benches on 3 sides and stairs on the fourth. It’s a great way to add a shimmering centerpiece to a small backyard.

Cocktail pools are mostly for leisure, for having a soak on a hot day or bringing a few friends over for a pool party. For those who want a backyard pool for exercise or therapeutic reasons, then you may want to check out our next kind of pool.

Explore Latham’s Most Popular Cocktail Pool Options:


Freeform pools are popular designs for smaller backyards. Their curvilinear designs actually pack more swimming area into less perimeter footage than a rectangular pool. Also, these eye-catching shapes offer a bunch of different options for decking around the pool. Latham manufactures several small freeform fiberglass shapes that are perfect for smaller yards. Our smallest kidney-shaped design takes up less than 150 square feet of space. 

Some freeform designs aren’t great for lap swimming, so keep that in mind when you’re choosing or designing your own backyard pool. However, they do offer many places for seating, and the curves of the design lend themselves to the addition of decorative water features or a spillover spa (if you have the room).

Explore Latham’s Most Popular Freeform Pool Options:

Lap Pool

Although lap pools can be rather long, a shorter design might be just what you are looking for in a small backyard pool. Lap pools tend to be relatively narrow (our fiberglass offerings are 12′ wide)  and come in a variety of lengths. A 24′ by 12′ lap pool offers plenty of room to swim laps without exceeding 300 square feet.

If you want a pool for exercise purposes the lap pool is a great design, especially if you don’t want all the extra bells and whistles you get with a swim spa. Again, these do have to be a little longer than the other designs on the list, but on the right plot of land a small lap pool is an excellent option.

Explore Latham’s Most Popular Lap Pool Options:

Small Inground Pools FAQ

Now that we’ve compared some of our most popular pool shapes and looked at the benefits of each, let’s go over some factors you’ll need to consider before installing your pool, such as the size of your yard or whether to choose vinyl instead of fiberglass. In this section, we’ll answer your most commonly asked questions about small inground swimming pools, including: 

  • What type of pool is best for a small yard? 
  • How small (or large) can an inground pool be? 
  • How much yard space do I need to install a pool? 
  • What other factors should I think about when designing and installing a small swimming pool? 

What Considerations Should Be Made For My Pool?

Before planning the layout for your swimming pool, it’s important to discuss your preferences with your local pool builder.  Be sure to evaluate how much time you and your family anticipate spending in and around the pool, and how important it is that you have a grassy area within your yard where the kids are able to run and kick a soccer ball around. These types of things can help your designer to determine how the swimming pool should be laid out, what size restrictions there may be, and how to best optimize your landscape so that it’s tailor-fitted to suit your every whim.   

What’s The Best Type Of Pool For A Small Yard?

Having the ability to play around with different shapes is crucial to maximizing your space for a small swimming pool. A fiberglass pool is a great option because there are so many different shape, size and design combinations available. Even if you’ve got an oddly shaped backyard, you can make it work! Fiberglass also enables you to get multiple uses out of your pool. In addition to keeping you cool, you can also add waterfalls, streams, and spillways that allow it to double as an attractive water feature, or even build in a tanning ledge to save more space.

How Small Can You Get an Inground Pool?

The minimum size for an inground pool depends, in part, on the shape and style you select. For example, the smallest dimensions that we generally recommend for a kidney-shaped pool, like our dazzling Jamaica model, are approximately 10′ x 20′ with a minimum depth of 3’2″ to 5′ — small enough to fit in almost any outdoor space, but large enough to let you and your loved ones enjoy the pool safely and comfortably. Small in size but big on fun, the compact Jamaica occupies less than 200 square feet of space. Other typical size options for small pools include:

  • 8′ x 24′ 
  • 10′ x 20′
  • 12′ x 14′
  • 12′ x 24′

To explore more space-saving ideas, check out our Backyard Style Book or Pool Shapes Hub, where you’ll find design specs, image galleries, and other helpful tips to help you create your ideal look. 

How Small is Too Small for a Pool?

As we’ve explored, there are many small inground pool options that are perfect for compact yards, such as our Jamaica, Milan and Fiji models. However, it’s important to find the right balance and avoid building too small. For instance, if the pool is not deep enough, it could be difficult for you to swim comfortably, which may prevent you from being able to exercise in the pool. If you intend to swim laps, you will generally need a minimum depth of 4 to 5 feet, versus a minimum depth of around 3 feet for floating or soaking. 

To get the most enjoyment — and the best value — out of your new backyard investment, you should talk to a pool installation professional, who can help you use your space efficiently without sacrificing comfort or fun. Depending on which design styles you prefer, whether you’d like the pool to feature seating, the shape of your yard, and other factors, our expert team can provide you with detailed sizing recommendations.

How Big of an Inground Pool Can I Fit in My Yard?

While you want to make efficient use of your yard space, it’s important not to build your swimming pool too close to your home — otherwise, problems like leaking or splashing could lead to electrical safety issues. For example, under federal regulations, you are required to ensure a distance of at least 10 feet between the edge of your pool and the outer wall of your home. However, some municipalities have stricter criteria, requiring a distance of 25 feet or more. These types of distance requirements automatically limit how large you can build, regardless of the size or shape of your yard. An independent pool builder can help you understand the specific regulations in your area and help you find a model that adheres to these requirements.

You’ll also need to be mindful of property lines, possible zoning issues, the need for deck or porch space, room for outdoor seating and even the placement of trees in your yard. You may also want to consider maintenance expenses, which are usually lower for smaller pools. 

Generally speaking, we recommend building no larger than 12′ x 24′ for lawns that measure 1,200 square feet or less. If your lawn is larger than 1,200 square feet, you may want to consider installing a more spacious pool, subject to factors like your local zoning regulations. As a rule of thumb, it’s wise to limit your pool to occupy no more than about 25% of your yard space. Whether your lawn is large or small, we recommend consulting an expert to help ensure that you choose an appropriate size for your needs.

Find The Best Small Pool Design For Your Backyard

The most important takeaway from this article is that even if you have a small backyard, you can still have a great backyard pool. Start dreaming big for your small backyard with our Plan Your Pool resource and Pool Cost Estimator

Meet Our Expert

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Jeremy is the Director of Digital Marketing for Latham. He loves working within a company that has a strong culture built on camaraderie and revolutionizing the industry.

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