12 above ground pool ideas to help you cool off all summer long

These fun and easy above ground pool ideas will transform your backyard into a summertime oasis

above ground pool ideas
(Image credit: Hey Wanderer)

Above-ground pools are a highly practical solution for cooling off in the backyard. Unlike their in-ground swimming pool counterpart, above-ground options are typically a budget backyard idea, much easier to install, and can be disassembled if you’re a renter or are considering selling your place.

That being said, the typical above-ground pool isn’t exactly as aesthetically pleasing as a heavily landscaped built-in swimming hole. But that’s not to say that an above-ground pool has to ruin the carefully curated backyard aesthetic that you have going. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Below, we’ve pulled together a handful of really cute and functional above ground pool ideas that will take your yard to the next level in terms of style. These Instagram-worthy design ideas not only look great, but most of them are very easy and affordable to DIY if you’re ready to put in a little work and get creative.

From strategically placed plants and Edison bulbs to stylish tiles and even your very own swim-up bar, these smart and aesthetically-pleasing above ground pool ideas will help you cool off all summer long without sacrificing your decor style.

1. Add brickwork for an instant facelift

Adding brickwork to the exterior of your above ground pool might seem like a lot of work at first glance—but it’s actually quite simple and economically feasible with the right tools. Consider building up your own facade using mismatched bricks or opt for brick adhesives to make the task even more straightforward.

2. Add greenery around your pool

Strategically placed greenery and planters can take your above ground pool from boring to tropical in an instant. Whether you’re working with a built-in deck or your pool stands alone, adding planters or landscaping the perimeter of your pool will make it look much more permanent and sophisticated.

3. Add a deck to the perimeter to make it look built-in

Don’t have a deck just yet? You’d be surprised by how much of a difference adding a wraparound deck to your pool makes to the overall backyard. Not only does it make it much easier for guests to get in and out (no ladder required!) it also gives the appearance of actually being a built-in pool.

4. Try adding cute lighting to create a cozy atmosphere

Here’s an easy one for you: just add lighting! A cute string of Edison bulbs will run you well under $100 but the effect will blow you away. What’s more, adding strategic lighting will actually allow you to get more use out of your pool as it will make midnight dips much more appealing.

5. Consider adding a canopy for shade

Like stringing lights along the perimeter, adding a canopy above your pool will not only enhance its aesthetic appeal but actually allow you to get more use out of it. A simple canopy will help filter out the harsh afternoon sun, creating the perfect environment for a dip without worrying as much about the harmful rays.

6. Try adding a funky tile for style

If you’re set on tackling a DIY project, consider adding a funky tile to personalize the style of your pool. Whether it’s on the pool’s exterior or around the deck, a playful tile offers an easy way to make your above ground pool look much more sophisticated and fun.

7. Consider a stock tank pool

You don’t need to go big in order to cool off this summer! Stock tank pools have been increasing in popularity over the years due to their affordable price tag and super chic look. Whether you paint it, add your monogram, or just leave it as is, this affordable option will turn your backyard into an industrial-cool space in a hurry.

8. Create thoughtful landscape edging

If the side of your above ground pool is exposed but you crave a minimal aesthetic and aren’t all that keen on DIY… do landscape edging! This super simple hack involves the bare minimum when it comes to gardening and maintenance. Simply level out the perimeter of the pool and add a layer of landscaping rocks.

9. Go for spa-inspired woodwork

This one might require the help of professionals but it's well worth the extra legwork if you’re hoping to foster a sense of zen in your backyard. Building up spa-inspired woodwork will instantly transport you to your favorite Scandinavian wellness retreat—without leaving home.

10. Place your pool among the trees

A lot of people assume the placement of their above ground pool absolutely needs to be as close to the patio door as possible—but if you have an area in the backyard that’s lined with trees, you might want to consider placing your pool there instead. Not only will it provide natural shade, it’ll feel like an intimate outdoor escape.

11. Consider adding a swim up bar

Possibly one of the simplest but most effective above ground pool ideas: add a swim up bar! All you’ll really need is a table tall enough to edge over the side of your pool and you have yourself the perfect spot to drop off a pitcher of margaritas before jumping in.

12. Go tiki-inspired for a fun look for less

Turn your above ground pool into a tiki bar with a few simple items that you can easily find at Target or Walmart! All you’ll need is enough bamboo privacy screens and festive artificial flowers to cover the perimeter of the pool and you’re in business.

Kaitlyn McInnis
Kaitlyn McInnis

Kaitlyn is an experienced travel and lifestyle writer with a keen interest in interior decorating and home optimization. An avid traveler, she's currently splitting her time between her apartment in a century-old châteauesque building in Montreal and her cozy chalet in the woods (that she built with her own two hands... and many YouTube tutorials!). Her work has been published in Travel + Leisure, Tatler Asia, Forbes, Robb Report Singapore, and various other international publications.