Why less is more

by brittney_cutler_2 | June 27, 2022 4:00 pm

Incorporating a smaller pool will allow builders and homeowners to maximize on space. Photos courtesy Aqua Med Pools

Five reasons to add smaller pools to backyard designs

By Annie Brock

Backyards are no longer just plants and landscaping. They have become an extension of the home, with decks, patios, outdoor seating, firepits, and of course, swimming pools. But, when outdoor living spaces are smaller, homeowners do not want them dominated by a pool, at the risk of sacrificing areas for entertaining or year-round relaxation. As a result, there is a growing demand for smaller pools.

Not only do these compact options serve as spaces to cool off in the summer, but they also leave enough room for other backyard elements on homeowners’ wish lists. Smaller pools can also be equipped with jets, which allow users to swim against the current for fitness training or rehabilitation. Savvy builders have recognized these trends and are now designing outdoor living spaces which incorporate smaller pools, firepits, outdoor kitchens, patio seating, and hot tubs, so homeowners can enjoy their outdoor living spaces year-round.

The standing depth of smaller pools makes them ideal for adults, kids, and pets.

Smaller pools make backyards feel bigger

With the popularity of more functional outdoor setups, most homeowners already have an idea of how they would like to lay out their backyards. Jason Branco, owner of Aqua Med Pools in Dighton, Mass., says most of his clients are working with smaller spaces. However, they have done their research and established their favourite designs based on what they have seen online.

“Not only do my clients want to have multiple features and entertainment areas in their outdoor living spaces, but they are also attracted to the lower price point of smaller pools—which gives more of their budget to other features like spas and exercise options, as well as patio areas and firepits,” he says.

Branco installs fibreglass pools, which he started offering a few years ago, to stand out from his competitors who primarily offer vinyl liner pools. At least 50 per cent of the pools Branco installs for his clients are smaller models. These pools are 2.8 m (9.5 ft) wide by 5.9 m (19.5 ft) long, have a constant depth of 1.3 m (4.5 ft), and hold around 16,277 L (4300 gal) of water. Consumers are attracted to the consistent standing depth because it makes the pool ideal for socializing, playing games, and lounging in the water.

Smaller pools can be equipped with jets for fitness training or rehabilitation. Photo courtesy Thursday Pools

“These pools also have elongated benches on their left and right sides, which extend out from the steps, making them ready for all kinds of entertaining for kids and adults,” says Branco. “The seating areas can even be outfitted with therapy jets for a spa-like effect.”

Smaller pools can also accommodate automatic covers, which attracts clients looking for an easy open and close. Additionally, automatic covers help ensure no one will enter the pool without knowing the code to unlock it. This makes the pool safer and lowers the need for maintenance, as the cover will keep debris out of the pool when it is not in use.

In terms of placement, most builders recommend during the design stage that the pool be placed at the farthest edge of the property, to help make the backyard look as big as possible. This also allows the design to accommodate spas, firepits, and seating areas, which makes the configuration more functional—especially in the winter months when the pool might be closed.

Smaller pools leave room for spas or hot tubs

Incorporating a smaller pool into the design gives the builder the opportunity to suggest including a spa in the backyard. This can be very attractive to homeowners looking to enjoy their outdoor living space year-round. For areas with colder winters, pools are usually closed, while spas or hot tubs can remain open. Most builders agree when they design the outdoor living space, it makes the most sense to put the spa or hot tub closer to the house, so the client does not have to go too far from their back door. Branco says he has also been installing many fibreglass spas because they match the look of the pool, and are built into and flush with the patio, giving the space a more finished look.

Smaller pools are great for exercise

Some active consumers are looking to get more fitness benefits from their pools. As a result, they have been asking builders about including lap pools in their backyards. Much of this demand is coming from those who are between 50 and 70 years old. However, many of these clients are also empty nesters with smaller backyards. Due to this constraint, it is rarely possible to install a true lap pool, as it would take up too much space and become costly to heat and maintain. As an alternative, builders are offering to install swim jet systems on smaller pools, to provide the same exercise benefits of lap pools at a fraction of the space and cost.

Branco says requests for exercise swim jets have increased in the last few years. They are an ideal option for clients looking to add an exercise feature to their smaller pools. Many older, active adults are being told they should swim for rehabilitation or to vary their exercise routines, since swimming is not as stressful on the body. The system also includes a built-in light-emitting diode light (LED), giving the pool an added selling feature.

It is important for builders to know these exercise jets must have their own dedicated pumps, separate from the rest of the pool equipment. In most pump applications, there can be at least one 45-degree angle from the pool pump to the pump house. But, in the case of the jet system, the pump will need to be less than 7.6 m (25 ft) from the pool’s edge, so the pressure to the jets is not compromised.

Smaller pools are lighter on the wallet

Savvy builders are also informing their clients of the cost and energy benefits of these compact pools, in addition to their lower price point. Their smaller heating systems, along with their simpler and smaller filters and pumps, make these models more energy efficient and cost effective. These pools are also easier to landscape around, which will help reduce the expense of hiring a landscaper.

Smaller pools help builders maximize their installation schedules

Fibreglass pools are quickly becoming the pool of choice, especially for busy pool builders or service professionals who want to start installing pools. With smaller fibreglass pools readily available to builders, it is easy for them to take on more with just a small crew and an excavator. The quick installation of these smaller pools will have clients ready to swim faster and allow builders to add more jobs to their schedules.


The growing demand for functionality has inspired clients to make the most of their outdoor living spaces. Incorporating a smaller pool into the design will allow builders and homeowners to maximize on space and budget, as well as include other must-have features—regardless of the size of the backyard.


Annie Brock has helped independent pool dealers grow and thrive for more than 27 years. Her pool industry experience includes positions in retail merchandising, design, and executive management. Brock is currently the director of business development for Thursday Pools, where she helps existing dealers achieve their growth goals, while also onboarding new independent dealers. She can be reached at a.brock@thursdaypools.com

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