Building your own garden pool is a fun family project but be prepared for some hard work and some expense. When you see the finished product and get to enjoy your garden pool, however, I think you will agree it was worth the work and the expense.
First, Choose the Location of Your Garden Pool
The very first thing you need to do is decide where you want your garden pool and understand the limits that the location puts on your pool. Plan how the pool will fit in to the rest of the area as far as traffic, sunshine or shade and overall effect. Plan on paper, using graph paper to scale. Athough this may feel like a pain now, it will save you lots of work, including a possible ‘re-do’ later.
For our garden pool, we chose a space approximately 35 inches across and 50 inches long, right by the front door of our house, where it gets morning sun only.
Second, Buy the Pool Liner
Once you have decided where the garden pool will go, start looking for a pool liner. There are many things you can use for a pool liner. A pre-made liner is easiest. But anything from that to a free form that you dig and line with 4- or 6-mil plastic-or even cement!-will work!
For ours we chose a “cowboy bath tub”, a 110 gallon stock tank which cost about $60 at a local hardware store. It is oval, is wider at the top rim than the bottom, and is made of 100% recycled black plastic. Most importantly, it fit the area we had for a pool and it fit the budget.
Third, Dig the Hole
I know this sounds obvious, but this is the hard work of building a garden pool. Dig deep enough to bury the whole pool to the rim. If your design allows, you could put the pool at ground level and fill in around it. But for sure, your garden pool will need support of some kind on the sides simply because the water that fills it is so heavy.
Also, because of the weight, in the bottom of the hole, spread about two inches of sand. This sand makes leveling the garden pool much easier. More importantly it made a smooth even surface for the bottom of the pool. No stones or other sharp objects can stick up through the bottom once it is full of heavy water. Once you have the pool liner in place, check to see that the rim of the pool is level in all directions. Now all that’s left is to fill the pool.
For our garden pool, we buried all but the top 8 inches. Even though it is very thick material, we put two inches of sand under it to help level and protect it. Our sidewalk was so close, however, we had to chip some of the cement away to keep it from poking in the side of our liner.
Finally, Surround and Accessorize the Pool
The final step, once you have the garden pool in the ground and filled, is to make a garden in and around it! We had already decided to surround the pool with brick, to match our house and then place plants to soften the edges. In planning we left room for plants in pots so we can change out what is there according to the season. We also put some gold fish in the pool, which, according to a friend here in Dallas, TX says we will not have to take out come winter. His have survived and multiplied over many years. Finally we bought some water plants and a small pump for a recirculating fountain, to complete the garden pool. We are thinking about adding an underwater light as much for safety as anything else: the pool is right next to the path to the front door.
Overall, our pool cost about one hundred dollars in materials, and the electricity for running the pump will be maybe a dollar a month more on our electric bill, if that. Depending on what you use for the liner (the biggest expense) and what kind of electrical features you want (next biggest expense), it could cost more or less for you. But the enjoyment of digging and leveling and bricking and such was more than worth that much already. And the value of the future evenings enjoyed sitting by that garden pool with at cup of coffee or cold drink, and the value added to our home, is just icing on the cake.