Last updated on June 15th, 2022
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If squishing yourself into your children’s inflatable paddling pool on hot summer days has lost its fun appeal, consider purchasing a garden swimming pool for yourself. All the pools in our review are above-ground structures, so you don’t need to dig a hole and pour a foundation. But you do need to make sure that the ground beneath the pool is absolutely flat unless you want a shallow end and a deep end to your swimming pool. Be very sure where you want to place your pool in your garden because 5,000+ litres of water is very heavy, and simply put, can’t be moved once filled.
We look at the Best Garden Swimming Pools in our review. All the pools we selected are above ground pools that don’t fall into the “inflatable” category. The pools we chose do have many features in common, and your decision may come down to the size, shape and capacity of the pool. We list the pros and cons of each model along with a brief discussion of the benefits of the most important features.
Our recommendation for each one highlights the best garden situation in which to use that particular swimming pool. Our Buyer’s Guide is a short overview of the general features of a swimming pool along with some considerations about the responsibilities of owning one.
Our Best Pick is the Bestway 12FT Steel Pro Max BW56416 Swimming Pool with Filter Pump. This is an average-sized oval-shaped pool (of the models that we have reviewed) from a well-regarded pool manufacturer. The filter pump cleans the water regularly and you can drain the water out, via your garden hose, to your flower and vegetable beds.
The Runner-up is the Intex 28202UK 10ft x 30in Metal Frame Swimming Pool with Filter Pump. This round pool is smaller and less expensive than our Best Pick. Two to four adults can comfortably fit into this pool which is easy to assemble.
Also, check out my favourite inflatable bouncy castles in this guide for even more fun in the sun
Garden Swimming Pools Reviews
1. Bestway 12FT BW56416 Steel Pro Max Swimming Pool with Filter Pump
The Bestway 12FT Steel Pro Max BW56416 Swimming Pool is an above ground pool for both adults and children over the age of three. The oval-shaped pool comes with all the fittings and fixtures required to put the structure together easily (and without tools) because the frame has a seal and lock system that just clicks together. This system stops the metal parts from rubbing on each other and causing damage due to wear and tear.
The construction of the frame is from steel that’s been painted with an anti-corrosion finish. Not only is the structure rust-resistant but it holds up to all kinds of weather. However, if you plan on using this Bestway pool as a saltwater pool, be aware that some online reviewers report that corrosion may occur as the protection is not designed for this level of harm from salt.
The PVC walls of this swimming pool are three-ply in that they have three layers. This reinforced layering consists of two outer heavy-gauge PVC layers and an inner layer of polyester mesh. Together, this fabric is puncture resistant and its strength adds to the rigid structure of the pool.
With the frame and the walls that form the pool structure, you also receive the filter pump. The filter removes dirt and debris, especially organic matter that floats or is dropped in from your garden. Online reports state that the filter pump is not really powerful enough to filter the almost 6,500L of water from the pool. You may want to consider buying a more powerful filter pump separately. This is a common complaint that we found for all the pools in this review.
Draining the pool is easy. Just attach your garden hose to the built-in flow control valve (adapter included) and direct the water to any part of your garden. Reuse the water to hydrate your flower and vegetable beds rather than let it run all over your grass or patio. A downside of the drain valve is that it’s on one of the pool walls and not at the base of the pool. This means that you’re left with some centimetres of water at the bottom of the pool that you have to manually bail out.
When assembling this, and any, garden swimming pool, it’s essential that it’s placed on very level ground. Consider purchasing some foam mats to go underneath the pool. As an added bonus, these give a soft surface for the swimmers to stand on and sit on when in the pool.
- Above ground pool with an anti-corrosion steel frame holds its oval shape rigidly for maximum enjoyment and durability.
- PVC fabric (white) for the walls is heavy-duty with three-ply walls that resist punctures and add to the strength of the wall support.
- The filter pump (included) removes all dirt and debris from the incoming water when you fill the pool, letting you relax in healthy, clean water.
- Drain the pool easily by attaching the built-in drain valve to a garden hose to direct the water out.
- Tool-less assembly makes it easy to put together soon after the summer weather appears.
- Includes an underwater patch to repair any tears or holes.
- Dimensions: 3.66m (diameter) and 76cm (depth).
- Capacity: 6,473L (at 90% full).
- Free UK phone customer service to answer any questions or resolve any problems.
- The filter pump is not very powerful.
The Bestway 12FT BW56416 Steel Pro Max Swimming Pool is an average-sized above ground swimming pool that has a strong rust-proof steel frame.
The three-layer walls have a central layer of polyester mesh for strength inside two layers of heavy gauge PVC for durability. Draining the pool water into the growing plants and trees in your garden lets you be environmentally friendly and frugal in your water use.
The Bestway 12FT Steel Max Pro Swimming Pool is our Best Pick of the Back Garden Swimming Pools. We like that it’s not too large for the average garden and your ability to reuse the pool water.
If you have a regular urban garden and a family or friends who like to be in the water, this is the best pool in our review for you.
Read next: Best inflatable water slides for your garden
2. Intex 28202UK 10ft x 30in Metal Frame Swimming Pool with Filter Pump
The Intex 28202UK 10ft x 30in Metal Frame Swimming Pool with Filter Pump is slightly smaller than our Best Pick model. It’s also more affordable.
With the same depth of water, it holds two-thirds of the water capacity. However, two to four adults can still use the pool at the same time and have fun or relax comfortably.
This above ground pool is circular and has a white powder-coated steel frame and blue PVC walls. The colour and style are reminiscent of the paddling pools you may have had as a child. The PVC fabric used is strong, long-lasting and easy to clean. Three layers of fabric in the walls give the pool its rigidity and hold it in shape, as well as being resistant to being punctured.
Assembling the pool is quick and easy – just put the frame pieces through the channels on the walls and lock it all into place by slotting them together. No tools are needed. If you do need some extra instructions, visit YouTube for the manufacturer’s videos.
This pool comes with a filter pump for keeping the water clean and debris free. However, some online reviewers report that the filter gets gunky quickly. The filter doesn’t rinse clean very well and has to be changed frequently, adding to the cost of maintaining the pool.
The drain valve for this Intex swimming pool is at the base of the pool so most of the water drains away. You may have to lift the (now empty and lightweight) pool up on one side to drain out the last few drops. However, there’s no mention on the seller’s website of being able to drain the water anywhere other than directly under the pool, so your lawn may get a bit soggy there.
- The circular above ground pool has a white steel frame to form the shape and hold it all together.
- The walls have three layers and are constructed from PVC that is long-wearing, weather-resistant and puncture-resistant.
- Assembly is easy – just lock the frame into place without the need for any tools.
- A filter pump is included and keeps the water clean and free from dirt and other garden matter.
- The drain plug is built into the bottom of the pool to easily let the water out when you want to replace it or put the pool away.
- The pool is large enough for two to four adults to relax and have fun in.
- Suitable for children over the age of six, but still with adult supervision.
- Dimensions: 3.05m (diameter) and 76cm (depth).
- Capacity: 4,485L (at 90% full).
- Have to change the filter frequently.
The Intex 28202UK 10ft x 30in Metal Frame Swimming Pool is one of the smaller garden swimming pools in our review. It’s suitable for those with less space in their garden to put their pool, yet it still holds two to four adults and a number of kids over the age of six with adult supervision.
This round pool has a white steel frame and bright blue three-ply PVC walls that emphasise the joy of summer as well as being strong and durable.
The Intex 28202UK 10ft x 30in Metal Frame Swimming Pool with Filter Pump is the Runner-up in our review of the best above ground swimming pools for gardens. We like its smaller size and its bright colour.
If you have a smaller garden or have a limited budget for this swimming pool, this could be the pool to choose.
Read next: It may be warm outside but what about indoors? – Check out the best bladeless fans here
3. Bestway Rectangular Steel Pro 9.1ft Frame Swimming Pool
The Bestway Steel Pro, 9.1ft Rectangular Frame Swimming Pool is similar to our Best Pick, the Bestway 12FT BW56416 Steel Pro Max Swimming Pool, except for the shape, size and price.
To recap, Bestway swimming pools are made from steel frames painted with anti-corrosion paint. In this case, the colour is white. The three-layer PVC walls have outer layers of heavy-gauge PVC enclosing an inner layer of polyester mesh. This provides structure as well as strength and durability. In this Bestway swimming pool, the walls are a bright blue colour that stands out against the fresh white frame.
To assemble the pool, just insert the poles into the channels on the top of the wall panels and then into the bright blue connectors. You don’t need to use any tools to do this. The filter pump to remove all the unwanted bits that seem to come and float around in the water is included in your purchase. The usual complaint of the filter pump being underpowered is found in online reviews for this product, even though it’s a smaller pool.
And now for the differences. The shape of this pool is rectangular and it’s the smallest pool in our review. At a depth of 66cm, it’s shallower than any of the other models we look at. And the water capacity of 3,300L (at 90% full) is almost half that of our Best Pick. But it still has a respectable footprint of 3m by 2m. This is, by far and as of November 2020, the least expensive pool in our review.
- Anti-corrosion steel frame for this above ground rectangular pool gives protection from rust and from the weather.
- Three-ply walls made of heavy-duty PVC are strong and resistant to punctures and slashes.
- The filter pump cleans the water from dirt and organic garden matter when you run it, leaving you with a clean and clear pool to soak and play in.
- A built-in drain valve lets you attach your garden hose to drain the water to your flowerbeds and vegetable garden so you don’t waste the water.
- Snap together the frame in no time for a quick tool-less assembly.
- Dimensions: 3m (length) x 2m (width) x 66cm (depth).
- Available in different sizes to suit the area available for water sports in your back garden.
- Capacity: 3,300L (at 90% full).
- Filter pump is too small for the pool.
The Bestway Rectangular Frame Swimming Pool, Steel Pro, 9.1 ft has all the features of the larger Bestway pool that’s our Best Pick, but in a smaller size and different shape. At half the water capacity of our Best Pick, the other differences are that it’s a rectangular pool and is shallower. This may suit those who want to relax more than swim and those who plan on being in the pool mostly with their children. It’s also the most budget-friendly pool in our review (November 2020) which may play a role in your decision-making.
We recommend the Bestway Steel Pro 9.1ft Rectangular Frame Swimming Pool for its small size, child-friendly depth and its affordability.
4. Bestway Power Steel Deluxe Rattan Look Pool 12ft x 100cm
The Bestway Power Steel Deluxe Rattan Look Pool is the third Bestway pool in our review. We do highly recommend this brand for the high quality of their products and the features that each pool comes with. This rattan look pool really is a deluxe version of the previous models we have reviewed – both in features and style.
The basis of this round above ground pool is the usual Bestway features – powder-coated anti-corrosion steel frame (brown this time) and a triple layer PVC wall, also in brown to match.
However, the walls have a stylish woven rattan look that represents a woven fabric rather than just smooth polyester. This helps this somewhat large pool to blend into your garden landscape, especially if you already have rattan furniture. The usual strength, stability, rust and puncture protection, and long life are built into these materials and the structure. Assembly is simple and tool-less, simply snap everything together.
The filter pump in this deluxe swimming pool has an anti-microbial filter cartridge to keep the water clean down to the microbe level as well as from the usual debris from the garden and passing wildlife. However, even with this deluxe purchase, some online reviewers aren’t happy with the power of the filter pump for the water capacity of 9,465L.
The addition of a ladder to enter and leave the pool is a welcome safety feature. With rungs on both sides of the ladder, the depth of 100cm of the pool is not a problem and will help children and those with limited physical mobility. As always, the manufacturer recommends that all children have adult supervision and kids under three years old not be allowed in the pool.
- Above ground round pool has a frame made of steel coated with a brown anti-corrosive paint as protection from rust and inclement weather.
- The pool walls are made of three-ply heavy duty PVC with a woven rattan look for style and strength.
- The filter pump includes an antimicrobial filter cartridge to keep the water clean and healthy.
- The ladder to enter the pool has rungs on both sides so adults and kids can lower themselves safely into the pool as well.
- A built-in drain valve lets you water your garden with the water you drain away through your attached garden hose.
- No tools are needed to set up this pool frame because it just snaps together.
- Dimensions are: 3.66m (diameter) and 100cm (depth).
- Capacity: 9,465L (at 90% full).
- The pump is not powerful enough.
The Bestway Power Steel Deluxe Rattan Look Pool is definitely a pool in which to throw pool parties for your family, friends and neighbours. The rattan look of the walls blend into any garden landscape and may even match your patio furniture. With a depth of 100cm, this pool is designed for adults to immerse themselves on sunny days or to float and drink cocktails on balmy evenings. With such a high wall, the ladder allows guests to step elegantly into the pool rather than clambering over the side and making a big splash as they fall in.
We recommend the Bestway Power Steel Deluxe Rattan Look Pool if you entertain frequently in your garden or just have quite a few family, friends and neighbours who intend to drop by on hot days.
5. Intex 18ft x 9ft x 52 inch Rectangular Ultra XTR Metal Frame Swimming Pool with Sand Filter, Ladder, Cover & Ground Cloth
The Intex 5.74m x 2.74m x 132cm Rectangular Ultra XTR Metal Frame Swimming Pool is, without doubt, a swimming pool. This above ground rectangular pool holds almost twice as much water as the second largest pool (the Bestway Power Steel Deluxe Rattan Look Pool). Surprisingly for its size, shape and style, you assemble this Intex pool without tools, by snapping together the components (Easy Lock system), the same method used with any of the other pools we look at.
This large swimming pool has a powder-coated galvanised steel frame that’s rust-resistant and long-lasting. The pool walls are grey PVC with three layers for puncture and tear resistance. The interior of the walls is a blue and white tile pattern that definitely resembles a brick-and-mortar swimming pool.
The proprietary Krystal Klear Water Filtration and Sanitation system uses a sand pump to remove unwanted particles from the water. It’s easy to clean this filter because you just rinse the debris out of the sand. (Note that you have to provide your own sand, but it lasts for five years.) The Hydration Aeration Technology (also proprietary) keeps the water crystal clear. The control valve for these actions has six functions, including filtering and rinsing, and also recirculating the water.
Along with the pool structure, you receive a ladder for entering and exiting the pool. As the pool height is 1.32cm, everyone needs this to get in and out. The depth of water in this pool and its length (5.74m) makes it possible to swim lengths of a few strokes. As the pool frame needs to be on completely level ground, and optionally ground that’s also soft for comfort, there’s also a ground cloth in the set to place underneath the pool. And to keep out bugs and leaves, use the pool cover that is also included when the pool isn’t in use.
- The large rectangular swimming pool comes with accessories to make your pool sessions more convenient and comfortable.
- Powder-coated galvanised steel posts form the long-lasting and rust-resistant sturdy frame.
- Snap the frame components together without the need for tools or locking pins.
- A safety ladder with rungs on both sides lets you enter and leave the pool with minimal effort and without harm.
- A ground cloth and pool cover also come with your purchase to save you the hassle and expense of buying them.
- Place the pool on the included ground cloth for stability and use the included pool cover to keep garden and bird material out of the water.
- Krystal Clear Sand Filter Pump keeps the water, well, crystal clear and healthy for you and your guest’s safety and enjoyment.
- Ultra XTR pool system claims to give your clearer water, higher tear resistance and more bending strength than its competitor pool brands.
- Dimensions: 5.47m (length) x 2.74m (width) x 132cm (depth).
- Capacity: 178,203L (at 90% full).
The Intex 5.74m x 2.74m x 132cm Rectangular Ultra XTR Metal Frame Swimming Pool is the ultimate above ground swimming pool in our review. And it’s also the largest and most expensive. But it does include accessories – ladder, pool cover, ground cloth – that you might otherwise buy separately. It’s also the closest to a more permanent pool too.
The filter pump efficiently uses sand to screen out particles and debris from the water. With a wall height of 132cm and a length of 5.74m, adults and children can swim lengths of a few strokes in this pool. Even the inside of the liner has a similar blue and white tile pattern to imitate a real swimming pool.
We like the Intex 5.74m x 2.74m x 132cm Rectangular Ultra XTR Metal Frame Swimming Pool for its size, its seriousness as a swimming pool and its high quality, easy to maintain filtration system. If you have a large garden and family members who want to learn to swim or to improve their strokes, this is the swimming pool for you.
In our reviews, we give you the Pros and the Cons of the products we look at – and the Buyer’s Guide is no different.
All of the pools in our review have similar features. They all have steel frames, heavy-duty PVC walls, a filter pump and a built-in drainage valve. These features do have variations, including price, which we’ve identified in our individual reviews. Choosing which one to buy often comes down to the size, shape and capacity of the swimming pool, plus the price.
However, buying the pool is often just the start of your swimming pool needs. Some accessories are optional but others are more “must-haves” to ensure season-long enjoyable water experiences.
Optional, and not so optional accessories
Here’s a list of some accessories to consider:
Heating the water
How warm is the water from your outside water tap that you use to fill or top up the pool? How cold does the water in the pool get overnight? How long do you have to wait for the sun to warm up the thousands of litres of water in the pool before you or your kids won’t shiver after getting in?
You may have to consider buying a heater to keep the water in your pool comfortably warm. Select from electric, gas and even solar heaters for swimming pools. Each has its own pros and cons for how much it costs to run, how long it takes to heat the water and when you can use it.
Below are two pool heaters that are worth considering and will work with our recommended pools. Just pick the matching brand name.
Keeping the pool clean
Pool vacuums allow you to vacuum up the debris. Your filter should do this but not all filters are powerful enough to keep the water perfectly clean or they become full quickly. The last thing you need is for your filter becoming clogged up and not working at all. Pool vacuums let you remove twigs, bugs and leaves easily from the bottom of the pool. For smaller pools, you can also use a manual skimmer or a net to scoop out all the debris.
In reviewing user comments about the swimming pools in this review, we came across many comments (for all the models) that the filter pump just wasn’t strong enough. The only exception is the Intex 18ft x 9ft x 52inch Rectangular Ultra XTR Metal Frame Swimming Pool with Sand Filter. This is the most expensive pool in our review and has a sand filter. For other pools, consider upgrading your filter system if it just doesn’t meet your needs.
Taking a step back, an alternative is to stop stuff from falling into the pool in the first place. A cover to put over the pool may be a necessity, especially if you have trees all around your pool area or many birds and insects that come to visit your garden. And even then, some dirt and debris may make their way under the pool cover and into the water. \
And then there’s the choice of how to sanitise the water. Chlorine – what kinds, how to do so and how often? Alginate if you have the misfortune to attract algae to your swimming pool? Regular testing of the water keeps the pool sanitary and safe.
Keeping the pool level
All the advice out there, from manufacturers and from users, says to place the pool on an absolutely level surface. You may need to level your lawn or solid surface by putting down plywood sheets, a floor mat or even artificial grass. Multi-task by making the base surface something that’s comfortable to stand on when entering, leaving and playing around the pool. Remember that the base of the pool stands on that surface too, so it needs to also be soft for you to sit on when you’re in the water.
Keeping you and your family safe
Apply all the safety rules about being around water for you and anyone else who uses your swimming pool, especially kids. Adults should always supervise children and others who are uncomfortable around water.
Don’t forget about the damage that the sun does. Waterproof suncream, reapplied frequently, is a must for everyone. You can buy a cantilever garden umbrella or parasol to cover the swimming pool to keep out the sun so that the swimmers don’t get sunburned. Or consider a waterproof shade sail.
Only the deepest pools we review come with a set of steps for entering and leaving the pool. With the others, everyone has to climb over the side, unless you provide a chair, box or steps for them to use. This could be dangerous for kids and people with limited physical ability. Investing in a set of steps may become one of your necessary purchases.
Having a swimming pool in your garden for adults and children alike could change how you view the hot summer months. From laying back in the water to relaxing through to really wet watery games with splashing and water cannons, a swimming pool provides months of fun for the whole family (and maybe the entire neighbourhood). Add in a water heater for the cooler days and ambient lighting for the twilight hours, and your water fun season stretches out from late spring to early autumn.
The best back garden swimming pool that we found is the Bestway 12ft Steel Pro Max BW56416 Swimming Pool. This easy to assemble, oval-shaped pool is a mid-size pool that isn’t too deep for children, but deep enough that you can still have fun.
Our Runner-up choice for the best swimming pool for gardens is the Intex 28202UK 10ft x 30in Metal Frame Swimming Pool. This pool is smaller than our Best Pick and its round shape offers a comfortable area for water games for everyone. It’s also a more budget-friendly model.
If you decide, after reading this review, that an above ground swimming pool is not what you’re looking for, after all, we have reviews that offer alternatives. Consider some inflatable structures for your outdoor summer water fun. Perhaps an Inflatable Hot Tub for you or an Inflatable Water Slide For Your Garden for your kids.
Or perhaps make your swimming pool area a destination spot for entertaining by updating your patio furniture. Check out our Best Garden Rattan Furniture Sets and Best Outdoor Sofa Set Ideas reviews for some ideas.
Last update on 2022-03-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API