It seems like everyone and their mother has a stock tank pool these days. During the early pandemic, they took the world by storm as an affordable alternative to an in-ground pool that was more aesthetically pleasing than a big blue vinyl monstrosity above-ground. A quick search on Pinterest will show you endless ways that people have customized them and made them their own. Even HGTV has listicles with ideas.
We were on the early side nearly three years ago when we decided to jump on the bandwagon and get our own stock tank pool setup. The blog I posted about it then has all of our plans for the back yard from that summer, which have changed pretty significantly since building the carriage house. We ended up covering up the sinking concrete pads that were in our yard when we bought our house, and building a big, beautiful deck. Here are our updated plans from March of this year. These first two photos are from our first STP install.
When we decided to set it back up again this year, we needed to move the pool to the corner of the yard next to the new deck. This gives us more space in the yard, and will also allow us to build a connecting deck around the pool–something like this.
Last time we set up the STP, we used sand to level the ground, and then used a white quartz gravel around the edge. This looked SO good when we first installed it, but after the leaves started falling and getting stuck in the gravel, it was impossible to keep it looking sharp.
This time around, we used a fine gravel to level the ground instead of sand, and we tucked the pool into the corner of the yard. We’ve already had our deck guy come out to measure around the pool for an extension of the new deck to fit around the pool. We’re planning on this coming right up to the lip of the pool, but not quite covering it. This way, if we need to replace the tank, we’ll be able to access it without having to tear up the deck. We’ll leave the side of the deck with the pool equipment under it open for easy access, and surround that area with easily moveable plants.
We cleaned up the tank, but haven’t done any touch-up paint since we’ll be covering it with a deck anyway. I’m not even going to pretend to know how the pump and salt water work, because that’s Jonny’s department, but this blog has been incredibly helpful both times we’ve DIY’d our stock tank pool. We have an 8′ galvanized metal stock tank, and it’s the perfect size for 2-4 adults to lounge.
After a clean up, we got a truckload of sand and leveled it out in the area where we wanted to put the pool. This step is crucial–don’t skip it! The ground in this spot looks level in the photo, but from one side to the other there’s about a 6″ difference, which would be pretty obvious once water was in the pool. We leveled the sand by dragging a long 2×4 across it in all directions until it was smooth and a level set on top of the 2×4 showed that it was even. I think if one of us had tried to do this step alone, it would have been incredibly frustrating. It was helpful to have one of us on each end of the board to keep it balanced and be able to push and pull the sand across the ground.
After the ground was leveled and the tank was clean, Jonny reinstalled the pump, and we filled it up. It took about a day to shock the water (we use salt water), and then it was ready for us to use.
Our daughter is obessed and thinks the stock tank pool is the best thing ever. She’s 16 months old now, so it’s really the perfect height for her to stand and waddle around (obviously we’re always in the pool with her, and she’s never, ever unattended around water). Hank, on the other hand, fell in once when he tried to jump on top of the pool cover when we first got it set up, and has never been interested in swimming with us again.
A couple winters ago we also used the STP as a hot tub. Jonny hooked a gas tankless water heater (meant for camping, not residential use) up to it, and this worked well, but took a long time to heat the water and used nearly an entire tank of propane with every use, so it got expensive pretty quickly. This year, we’re planning on getting a smaller electric heater that we can control with our phones, and thinking about insulating the sides of the tank in order to help it retain some heat. I’m picturing cozy fall hangs out here, with string lights, hot toddies, a fire in the fire pit, and a dip in the stock tank hot tub.
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