Everyone loves a pool, right? It’s an irrefutable fact. What a lot of people don’t love are the costs and responsibilities that come with installing and owning a pool, especially in Northern Virginia, where there are just a handful of months each year where the pool is fun and fabulous.

Digging one into your backyard will cost tens of thousands, and the resulting concrete hole full of water is similar to a fussy baby in terms of its upkeep: it needs constant attention, rebalancing of chemicals, straining, and fixing finicky malfunctioning components. So, while you should be lounging on a unicorn-shaped float drinking a beer, you’re sweating to death and getting a sunburn on the back of your neck as you study a pH strip. No way, man. There has to be a better way, one that doesn’t involve hundreds of dollars in letting other people deal with your maintenance. There’s a hip new trend going around, and it may be just the ticket to some hot summer splashing without the big commitment: it’s the stock tank pool. 

Stock tank pools were not invented by 2018 hipsters, even if they are blowing up Pinterest right now in every carefully-curated backyard. Farm kids have been bathing and cooling off in animal watering troughs for as long as these galvanized metal tanks have existed, which is over a century. The tanks come in a variety of sizes, from four feet to eight feet wide, and they are shallow, about two feet deep on average. They were created for large numbers of farm animals to have clean drinking water, but they have developed a new life as a way for young families across Northern Virginia to enjoy the fun of a pool without the cost. 

A stock tank pool costs a few hundred dollars to set up. There are websites that sell kits with everything you need to get going, but it’s no bigger than a weekend project to set one up yourself. You can find the stock tank that’s perfect for you out of many shapes and sizes at most farm and feed stores or their online sites; more and more are also popping up on Amazon.com. The laziest way is just to fill it up from your hose, but getting a small filter set up will keep you from having to constantly empty and refill the pool to keep mosquitoes and nastiness away. Yes, you will have to chemically treat the water, but this is a much easier deal than an in-ground pool. You won’t be able to fit the whole family, but your kids will have a safe and fun place to play all summer long. Even better, you don't have to worry about the effects of the pool on your home value, because it'll only last as long as you want it to!

Quick Stock Tank Pool Tips

  • Make sure your pool is lined with weather-resistant coating so that it will not rust and you can enjoy your stock tank for many years to come. 
  • Talk to your local pool supply store about the chemicals you will need.
  • Make sure you choose a stock tank that has a side spigot for easy emptying. 
  • Even though stock tank pools are shallow, kids can still drown in them. Don’t leave children unsupervised just because it’s a tiny pool.
  • Consider setting up your pool in the shade or under an umbrella to keep the water cool.