Garden & Lawn

9 Best Garden Swimming Pools – Test Inflatable and Framed Pools

Last updated on November 28th, 2023

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My two kids love nothing more than playing in our garden swimming pool when they’re not in the outdoor playhouse, especially when we get the Charbroil gas BBQ out and invite their cousins to play. Over the last 13 years, we have tested many of the best garden swimming pools. Their favourite is this Intex 6ft x 20in Easy Set Swimming Pool, which is partly unique as it has one inflatable floating ring and is a reasonable size which I talked about in my inflatable swimming pool guide. Our one is 6ft, but you can get an 8ft version too. It’s also one of the cheapest and deep enough for them to swim in or at least have a good splash. They also love running through the lawn sprinklers too!

I have also had a couple of above-ground framed pools too in the past. My favourite, more for the size and how it fitted on my patio, was this Bestway Rectangular Steel Pro 9ft Rectangular Frame Swimming Pool. I think it’s maybe one of the best garden swimming pools with steel framed sides for the price. Having said that, my mum and dad have 9 grandchildren and a massive lawn. They have the Bestway 12ft Steel Pro Max Swimming Pool, which comes with a Filter Pump and is absolutely huge and maybe an extra £50 more if that. The kids love it! However, when pools get to that size, they require much more maintenance to keep them clean.

In my review, I have decided to include both inflatable swimming pools and steel frame above ground swimming pools. I will say that, paying more money for a garden swimming pool doesn’t mean your kids will have more fun.

I’ve found my kids have had as much fun in my Intex 6ft x 20in Easy Set Inflatable Swimming Pool picture below as they do in my larger Bestway Rectangular Steel Pro 9ft Frame Swimming Pool which is four times the price. The more expensive framed pools also take a lot more effort to get set up and need a semi-permanent location, and not really something you can just put up for the weekend.

Intex swimming pool connected to water filter pump and then a solar heat mat beteen the pump outlet and inlet of the pool
Intex swimming pool connected to water filter pump and then a solar heat mat between the pump outlet and inlet of the pool

Compare this to my Intex 6ft x 20in Easy Set Inflatable Swimming Pool pictured above which I can quickly put up over the weekend and take it down again. However, if I think I’ll leave the pool up for a few weeks on the patio, I usually attach the water filter pump and solar heat mat as shown in my picture above.

That being said, I do really like the steel frame garden pools if you have the space to leave them up. They are also usually deeper, larger and much more durable because there are no inflatable sections. Connect them up to a filter pump and maybe even a heater, and you for yourself a swimming pool at a fraction of the cost of a professionally installed garden swimming pool which costs thousands.

I do have a buyer’s guide further down. However, before I get into the more detailed reviews below. I will briefly highlight my favourite garden swimming pools, starting with this Intex Easy Set Swimming Pool. I think it’s a good choice for most people looking for a garden swimming pool. It’s deeper than most other kid’s inflatable swimming pools and well-made. What I also like is that only the top ring as shown below is inflatable which means it can be inflated in around 3-4 minutes and its ready to fill. This is with a hand pump too!

filling up Intex 6ft pool

I’ve had this one for around 3 years, but I have a friend who also owns the 8ft version, and he had his for 5 years before he replaced it. It’s definitely the most manageable pool to get set up! It takes about 3-4 minutes to inflate the top, and then you throw the hose pipe in and let it fill up. This takes around 2 hours, so I usually start filling up in the morning, and it’s ready for the afternoon.

Swimming pool connected to filter pump and heat map, a great setup
Swimming pool connected to filter pump and heat map, a great setup

I think it’s a great garden swimming pool and much better than most other inflatable pools that are really just shallow paddling pools. This is a 2ft deep swimming pool if you get the 8ft version. My 6ft version is just under 2ft deep but its plenty for my youngest kid at the moment. I also have 5he solar heat mat and filter pump and think they are well worth considering. I’ve been able to heat the pool to around 23-24 degrees when it’s been 20 degrees outside on a sunny day. If you have a bigger pool, say over 80ft wide, you can even connect the solar mats together. I talk a little more about the pump filter and solar heat mat. further down.

Bestway Rectangular Steel Pro 9ft Rectangular Frame Swimming Pool ready to fill with water
Bestway Rectangular Steel Pro 9ft Rectangular Frame Swimming Pool ready to fill with water

I’ve also had this Bestway Rectangular Steel Pro Steel Framed Swimming Pool. I purchased it a few years back as my eldest daughter is too big for the other pool now. I’ve yet to have it up this year due to a new log store I built where I usually put it for the summer. I love this pool; it’s a good choice for anyone looking for something you can leave up over the summer that’s inexpensive. I paid less than a hundred quid for it, so I think it’s a bargain at this price. Again, it’s well worth getting the pump filter and solar heat mats with these pools.

Bestway 12ft Steel Pro Max Swimming Pool
Bestway 12ft Steel Pro Max Swimming Pool

If you decide a framed pool is for you, a couple of alternatives worth considering are this Bestway 12ft Steel Pro Max Swimming Pool which comes with the filter pump, my mum and dad actually have this model. It’s been a great pool for the summer holidays, really well built and its taken a beating from 9 grandkids this last couple of years. It does help if you had plenty of space for this, they always take up more space than you imagine.

testing the Intex 18ft x 9ft x 52 inch Rectangular Ultra XTR Metal Frame Swimming Pool
Intex 18ft x 9ft x 52 inch Rectangular Ultra XTR Metal Frame Swimming Pool

You could even consider this Intex 18ft x 9ft x 52 inch Rectangular Ultra XTR Metal Frame Swimming Pool, this comes with a Sand Filter, so you don’t even need to use chemicals, and it’s much lower maintenance. The downside, it’s expensive, but what a pool and what a fantastic setup! This can even be left up permanently. I would maybe install a polytunnel over it and then incorporate a 6kw heater. It looks like a professional setup and looks amazing.

Looking for more of a water park, I have yet to personally own this model. However, this Baralir Inflatable Bouncy Castle / Garden pool looks like lots of fun!

Also, check out my favourite inflatable bouncy castles in this guide for even more fun in the sun!

Pool filter pumps and heating

For most decent-sized garden pools, a filter pump is well worth considering and I personally wouldn’t be without one now. Combine this with chlorine tablets in a floating dispenser as shown in the picture below for a few quid, and it really will help keep the pool clean if you leave it up for any length of time.

Floating chlorine dispenser with chlorine tablet in that slowly dissolves keeps the water clean
Floating chlorine dispenser with chlorine tablet in that slowly dissolves keeps the water clean

I usually attach the filter pump and heatmap and then add a chlorine tablet to a floating chlorine dispenser if I’m leaving the pool up for longer than just the weekend, over the summer holidays for example. Then it ready to use every day and will prevent it from becoming green. If you still have issues with algae, you can also get Algaecide which helps prevent algae buildup on the walls and bottom of the pool.

My Intex 28604 530 GPH 220 – 240 V Cartridge Filter Pump – This filters the water to keep the water clean of debris. You might also want a pool skimmer to clean the surface of just use a small net I do.

Intex 28604 530 GPH 220 - 240 V Cartridge Filter Pump
Intex 28604 530 GPH 220 – 240 V Cartridge Filter Pump

Intex Eco-Friendly Solar Heating Mat – This is a great alternative to an electric pool heater that I have talked about here that can cost a small fortune to run. This only really works on sunny days, but I have found it to work really well on clear sunny days. Just recently, the temperature outside got to 20 degrees, but the pool temperature was 23-24 degrees by later afternoon. It’s super simple to install as it goes between the pump outflow and pool intake. Everything you need is included, and it literally only takes a few minutes to add.

Intex Eco-Friendly Solar Heating Mat
Intex Eco-Friendly Solar Heating Mat

Remember to practice water safety

Remember to never leave children on their own in a pool of any size, not even for a minute or two. Children can quickly get into difficulties, even in shallow paddling pools, and it can only take a second for something to go terribly wrong. I always make sure I can clearly see the pool and within arms reach so the fun remains safe. Remember, it’s not just about being nearby but being actively watching them while they’re in the pool. It’s simply not worth the risk. I always get the cool box out and get everything I need by the sunloungers before I let my kids get into the pool. That way, I won’t be tempted to pop back inside to get a drink.

Garden Swimming Pools Reviews

1. Intex 6ft x 20in Easy Set Swimming Pool

Intex Easy Set Swimming pool  - Addded a filter pump and solar heat mat but these are purchased separately
Intex Easy Set Swimming pool – Addded a filter pump and solar heat mat but these are purchased separately

Other the last 12 years, since my first daughter was born, I’ve had many garden swimming pools from small inflatable pools and even a couple of framed pools. However, this Intex 6ft x 20in Easy Set Swimming Pool, despite being one of the most affordable, is probably my favourite garden pool. 

Intex 6ft x 20in Easy Set Swimming Pool
This is how it comes (not including the mats)

I love how well-made this pool is, I have noticed that Intex pools seem to be slightly better than Bestway when it comes to materials, at least the inflatable pools. This pool is made from durable vinyl and has lasted around 4 years so far. It’s worth noting that the pool I have is 6ft (180cm) wide by 20 inches (50cm) deep.

I did consider the larger 8ft pool, but this would have taken up to much space on my patio. However, it might be a good option for you if you need a pool which is a little bigger. Just bare in mind that the 8ft pool would take around 2000 litres of water whereas this 6ft pool takes around 800 litres. At least, thats what my smart water timer with a water usage meter said.

filling up Intex 6ft pool

What I really like about this pool is how easy it is to put up, it simply doesn’t get any easier than this pool. The secret, unlike some of the other pools, can take an hour just to assemble the frame or have multiple chambers to blow up. With this Intex inflatable pool, I simply inflate the top ring, making sure it’s level first but once I’ve inflated the top ring (takes me a few minutes with my own lungs), I through in the hose pipe and let it fill up. 

Don’t get me wrong, I like some of the framed pools such as my Bestway Rectangular Steel Pro 9.1ft Swimming Pool (not used it in a couple of years though), but with all the hassle to get it set up, it really needs to be staying up. Now I usually put the inflatable pool on my patio as shown above with some foam mats underneath from B&Q. I have also had it on my lawn when we’ve had a bbq and needed the space. However, I don’t leave it on my lawn any longer than a couple of days as I put so much effort into my lawn. I don’t mind leaving it on the lawn for the weekend but any longer and it doesn’t do the grass any good.

triple-layered vinyl walls

As already mentioned briefly, the durability of this pool is very good, especially for the price. It has triple-layered vinyl walls. Like most inflatable pools, it’s certainly not immune from leaks, we have a cat, Daisy and I suspect this is how we got a leak in ours, this was easily fixed with a patched kit. Just something to keep in mind, have a puncture kit handy just in case.

Intex 6ft pool from above
Intex 6ft pool from above

I would recommend investing in some inter lockable rubber play/gym mats like I did which I got from B&Q. These are far cheaper than the rubber mats advertised specially for swimming pools and hot tubs!

Something I thought was worth pointing out, is that it does not come with a filter pump to help clean the water. However, it does have place to attach one which I think is worth doing. While not essential, investing in a filter system can significantly enhance the cleanliness and overall experience of using the pool.

In my case, I used this Intex pump filter I had from my 8ft framed pool and chemicals to maintain the water clarity and hygiene.

I also purchased a separate cover to help keep it clean and as mentioned earlier, the solar heat mat has also been a great addition. As you can see below, it helped get the pool temperature to around 24 degrees.

Pool temperature reached 26 degrees with the solar heat mat attached with an outside temperature of 23 degrees
Using the filter pump to empty the pool water into the raised beds
Using the filter pump to empty the pool water into the raised beds

I also used the pump to help empty the pool by unplugging the return pipe from the pool and inserting the plug that came with the pool so it can be used without a pump. I then leave it emptying into my raised beds or flower beds but the reach is limited by the tube length (the clear pipes that come with the pump).

Push fit attachment so you can attach a hose pipe and empty the pool more easily
Push fit attachment so you can attach a hose pipe and empty the pool more easily

It’s worth noting that it also has a plug with a push-fit attachment for a standard hozelock-style push fit to attach a hose pipe, as shown above.


  • One of the easest pools to errect in minutes, simply inflate the one ring and fill.
  • Convenient drainage via the plug at the bottom.
  • Robust construction using triple layers of vinyl for enhanced strength and insulation.
  • Selection of other sizes available.
  • Large capacity 886 Liters and takes around 3-4 hours to fill
  • Dimensions: 1.83m (6ft) (diameter); and 51cm (20inches) Deep.


  • The filter pump is not included, but it’s optional and probably worth investing in one.

My conclusion

My experience with this Intex 6ft x 20 inches Inflatable Swimming Pool has been largely positive. The truth is, my kids love it just as much as any expensive pool thats 10x the price. I love that it’s very easy to set up, probably the easiest of any pool. It’s not puncture proof but it’s pretty good. From my standpoint, it is indeed one of the simplest and most versatile garden swimming pools on the market and one I recommend and would buy again. A great pool!

2. Bestway 12FT BW56416 Steel Pro Max Swimming Pool with Filter Pump

Bestway 12FT BW56416 Steel Pro Max Swimming Pool with Filter Pump

This Bestway 12FT Steel Pro Max BW56416 Swimming Pool is an above ground pool for both adults and children over the age of three and it’s one of my favourites. I like that it 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. This really is a good quality pool and a great option if you have the space where it can be left up for summer. If you want something you can just put up for the weekend, this is probably not a the right pool, an inflatable pool is a much better option.

The construction of the frame is 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 (not sure why you would), however, be aware that corrosion may occur as the protection is not designed for this level of harm from salt. 

Strong steel frame and heavy-duty PVC walls

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 (much stronger than any inflatable pool), and its strength adds to the rigid structure of the pool.

With the frame and the walls that form the pool structure, it also comes with a filter pump. The filter removes dirt and debris, especially organic matter that floats or is dropped in from your garden. The filter pump is pretty basic and is not really powerful enough to filter the almost 6,500 litres of water from the pool. I would recommend considering investing in a more powerful filter pump separately.

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.

Our recommendation

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. I like that it’s not too large for the average garden and your ability to reuse the pool water.

If you have a reasonable-sized garden and a family or friends who like to be in the water, this is a great pool to consider.

Read next: Best inflatable water slides for your garden

3. Bestway Rectangular Steel Pro 9.1ft Frame Swimming Pool

Bestway Rectangular Steel Pro 9.1ft Frame Swimming Pool

This Bestway Steel Pro 9.1ft Rectangular Frame Swimming Pool is similar to the Bestway 12FT BW56416 Steel Pro Max Swimming Pool I’ve just reviewed, except for the shape, size and price. By this I basically mean its a steel framed pool with similar material design.

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. 

Bestway Rectangular Steel Pro 9.1ft Frame Swimming Pool assembled
Bestway Rectangular Steel Pro 9.1ft Frame Swimming Pool assembled

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 some of the larger pools in this review. But it still has a respectable footprint of 3m by 2m.


  • 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.

Our recommendation

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. Baralir Inflatable Bouncy Castle / Garden pool

Baralir Inflatable Bouncy Castle Water Paddling Pool

I wanted to include something a little differnt than the usual garden swimming pool and I think this Baralir Inflatable Bouncy Castle is such a great pool/play centre, think of it as a cross between a bouncy castle and a paddling pool. If you have young childen, ideally older than 3 but younger than 10 then will will provide hours of fun splashing around.

I like the way all its features are situated within a large splash pool, and that’s why i’ve decided to include it here in my review. What you do need is plenty of space. At around 4 meters wide (13ft) by a little over 3 meters (10.5ft), you need a decent size area but being that it can be included in less than 3 minutes, its super easy to get setup. 

Here’s what this bouncy castle play centre contains:

  • Large splash pool (think of it as a paddling pool)
  • Trampoline/bouncy castle with safety net around it; floor made of sturdy 840D Oxford cloth
  • Long slide with spray over it
  • Water cannon (aimable)
  • Hidden cave (under the slide)
  • Crawling tunnel (under the slide and castle)
  • Castle (again with mesh walls for safety)
  • Climbing wall (under the castle)

As you have probably guessed, this is a lot of fun for children in the summer and will. provide hours of fun. Its worth noting its also very durable, decent materials including 840D Oxford cloth for the floor as well as 420D Oxford fabric. This materials reminds me of the heavy duty materials they use on the premium cantilever parasols I’ve reviewed in the past.

However, if you have the room in your home in the colder months or even in summer, you can take this play centre inside. Instead of using water, use it “dry”, with the soft plastic balls used in playrooms in the pool instead. This to me is an excellent idea, or maybe you want to put it up on a overcast summer day, but its not really warm enough for adding water. No problem, just add some playballs instead, you know, the type you see in ball pools at play centers. There affordable on amazon and the kids will love it, especially the younger ones.

And I just want to point out the safety features of the parts of this play centre. The high parts have mesh walls for safety, as does the opening to the bouncy castle/trampoline. So the children will be safe, though I always recommend supervision at all times, especially around water!


  • Combination outdoors bouncy castle, slide, paddling pool and more for kids.
  • Features are: trampoline; climbing wall; long slide; water cannon; splash pool; water spray; hidden cave; and crawling tunnel.
  • For children from 3 years to 10 years old.
  • Installation takes three minutes.
  • Comes with a repair kit, 10 ground stakes; hose assembly kit; pump; and carrying bag.
  • Can be used dry with balls in the pool instead of water.
  • Max weight load: 145kg.
  • No more than 4 users at one time.
  • Has protective nets for high features.
  • Dimensions of base: 3.2m (length); 4m (width) and 2m (height).

My recommendation

The Baralir Inflatable Bouncy Castle is so much more than a garden swimming pool. To be fair, its not really a garden swimming pool, its more of a paddling pool but with extra features. Based within a large splash pool, the bouncy castle sits alongside a slide, crawling tunnel, climbing wall and much more. More than enough to keep your kids entertained for many of the hot days of summer. And as this play centre can also be used “dry”, with soft play balls instead of water, the excitement and thrills can continue indoors for the rest of the year or even in the garden on cooler days.

5. Intex 18ft x 9ft x 52 inch Rectangular Ultra XTR Metal Frame Swimming Pool

Intex 18ft x 9ft x 52 inch Rectangular Ultra XTR Metal Frame Swimming Pool

This Intex 5.74m x 2.74m x 132cm Rectangular Ultra XTR Metal Frame Swimming Pool is, without doubt, a swimming pool and I have included this as a friend of mine actually owns one. However, it’s expensive but what a pool, he actually installed a polytunnel over his pool.

This above ground rectangular pool holds almost twice as much water as the second largest pool in my review (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.

Intex 18ft x 9ft x 52 inch Rectangular Ultra XTR Metal Frame Swimming Pool
Intex 18ft x 9ft x 52 inch Rectangular Ultra XTR Metal Frame Swimming Pool

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 I believe 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).

Our recommendation

This Intex 5.74m x 2.74m x 132cm Rectangular Ultra XTR Metal Frame Swimming Pool is the ultimate above ground swimming pool in my 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.

I 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.

6. Intex 57190NP Swim Center Family Lounge Pool

Intex 57190NP Swim Center Family Lounge Pool

If you’re looking for a pool you can relax in with a drink while the kids play safely, then this Intex 57190NP Swim Center Family Lounge Pool is well worth considering. It’s a reasonable size, just under 8ft wide, but I love the striking transparent blue vinyl with the underwater vibe. What I like about this garden swimming pool is the seating which is plenty of space for two adults, plus the cup holders are perfect for bottles. 

Getting the pool up and running was straightforward, just like my Intex 6ft Easy Set Swimming Pool was, but this pool does take much longer to inflate, I recommend getting a small electric pump (thank me later). It takes around 20 minutes to inflate as it has a three-tiered structure but is segmented into two air chambers, each with its own valve. 

Because this is quite a big pool at around 7.5ft wide, filling the pool is a bit of a waiting game, as it is with most decent-sized garden pools. I would say, it takes around two hours if you have reasonably decent water pressure.

Something else I wanted to mention, but this goes for all inflatable pools, not just this one. You might notice that the pool is slightly deflated in the cooler mornings and evenings but feels more inflated as the day warms up. This is often mistaken for a puncture, and people think the pool has lost air. However, this is often not the case. Air expands in the heat and contracts in the cold. This is what causes the inflatable paddling pools to become less firm. With this in mind, it’s also a reminder not to overinflate the pool, as the air inside will expand as the day warms up.

Now, let’s talk about the best part, relaxing and enjoying the pool. This is where the Intex 57190NP is different from the other pools in my review. The built-in inflatable bench is very comfortable, making this pool a game changer, especially if you can relax in it with no kids. We can dream! 

The only possible issue is that the pool’s drainage plug is at the bottom. The problem is it’s flush with the bottom of the pool, and it would be better if it was slightly above floor level, like on some of the other pools, so that it’s easier to drain the water.


  • Easy to inflate and perfect for the whole family as it also features comfortable bench seating with a headrest on one side.
  • Transparent blue vinyl in three inflatable rings.
  • Two separate air chambers, each with its own valve.
  • Two cup/bottle holders on the edge of the pool.
  • Comes with a repair patch.
  • Easy to inflate with an electric pump (around 10-20 minutes).
  • Fairly large capacity at 590 litres, fill up in around 2 hours.
  • Dimensions: 2.29m (length), 2.18m (width), and 76cm (depth).

My conclusion

Overall, it is a fantastic choice for those hot summer days when you only want to cool off and relax. The pool’s family-friendly design and features make it a great choice for both adults and kids. I really do like how they incorporated the seating into the pool, which is unique to this pool in my review.

7. Intex 28202UK 10ft x 30in Metal Frame Swimming Pool with Filter Pump

Intex 28202UK 10ft x 30in Metal Frame Swimming Pool with Filter Pump

This Intex 28202UK 10ft x 30in Metal Frame Swimming Pool with Filter Pump is slightly smaller than the Bestway 12FT BW56416 Steel Pro Max Swimming Pool with Filter Pump I reviewed earlier. 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.

Our recommendation

The Intex 28202UK 10ft x 30in Metal Frame Swimming Pool is one of the smaller garden swimming pools in my review thats what you might describe as a propper garden pool as in not inflatable. 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.

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

8. Bestway Power Steel Deluxe Rattan Look Pool 12ft x 100cm

Bestway Power Steel Deluxe Rattan Look Pool 12ft x 100 cm

This Bestway Power Steel Deluxe Rattan Look Pool is the third Bestway pool in my review and how good does this pool look. I 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 I 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.

Our recommendation

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.

I 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.

9. Intex Dinoland Play Center Inflatable Water Play Paddling Pool

Intex Dinoland Play Center Inflatable Water Play Paddling Pool

This is another paddling pool I personalised and owned and lasted a few years, the Intex Dinoland Play Center Inflatable Water Play Paddling Pool. If you have very young kids it’s definitely worth a look if you want a paddling pool for splashing around in that is also shallow but still has a small slide and water sprinkler. My kids had hours of fun in this pool when they were much younger until it finally got punctured but we had already replaced it by then as they were too big for it at age 6 and 12.

This dinosaur-themed water play centre is made of vinyl and did with a repair kit for any tears and splits that occur but never used it.

The variety of activities in the play centre suits children of various ages. Smaller kids will like coming down the slide and landing comfortably on the mat in the water at the bottom like my youngest daughter did. The spray on the dinosaur arch can be turned on or off to give them more splashy fun on their ride down. My kids weren’t keen on the sprinkler being on as the water was cold. You basically attach the hose pipe to the pool using a hozelock-style push connector.

Inflating this water park does take time, however as each part of the pool needs to be blown up separately, so it’s a bit fiddly.


  • Dinosaur themed pool your kids will love with build-in water slide and sprinkler.
  • Constructed of vinyl and comes with repair kit.
  • Contains six balls to play with by passing them through the dinosaur arch.
  • Contains two inflatable rings to toss over the dinosaur’s nose.
  • The central arch is a water sprayer after you hook up the garden hose.
  • Has slide down under water spray into open water.
  • Recommended age: 2 years and up (Personly, I think it’s best suited to ages 2-4 max).
  • Dimensions: 3m (length), 2.3m (width), and 1.1m (height).

My recommendation

This Intex Dinoland Play Center Inflatable Water Play Center was one of the first paddling pools I purchased for my eldest daughter when she was maybe 2 or 3. She had hours of fun in this although she didn’t like the sprinkler as the water from the hose pipe was too cold. Overall, it’s a great little pool.

Buyer’s Guide

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.

Intex 28684 Electric Above Ground Pool Heater 2.2 KW
Suitable for 8' - 12' (2.44m - 3.66m) above ground pools

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.

Final Conclusion

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.

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 2024-07-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at

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