i’m so excited to finally be writing this post! and i’m sorry it didn’t happen a little sooner — say at the beginning of summer, but alas my backyard pool project has just now been completed, so i guess for those of you who live in areas that actually have seasons (unlike L.A. for the most part, where it’s almost always warm) i’ll be gearing you up to stay cool next summer! meet what some seem to call the cowboy pool — a galvanized stock tank for watering livestock. repurposed as an affordable alternative for those of us who can’t swing the cost of a built-in swimming pool! and this was not my genius idea — i got it from morgan at the brick house and sarah sherman samuel who inspired me to make my own!
so, to begin i did some research and discovered that a company called rural king distributes these tarter stock tanks (for just $330!) and they even have a really easy to follow DIY video which is how i figured out how to accomplish my cowboy pool. if you’re not close enough to rural king, tarter distributes these stock tanks all over the country and you can find a local distributor here. For those of you in the los angeles area, i found mine at Ojai Valley Feed and they delivered it to me within the same day for a very affordable fee (I think it was like $150, which for a 2-hour roundtrip drive i thought was quite fair). the next trick was getting it up my hill and into my backyard! these babies are big, awkward and not ridiculously heavy but it did take four guys to bring it up. so have some heavy lifters to help you.
the pool holds 700 gallons of water so be sure your pool area can support that weight and as the video suggests, you may want to add a base of gravel or sand for support. i had built a deck that wasn’t getting much use so that was the perfect spot for my pool. you’ll need to get chlorine tablets and Floating Chlorine Dispenser (i got this cute fish dispenser), as well as a PH water test to keep the water fresh, clean and mosquito-free which can be found on amazon or your local pool supply store.
and most importantly, you’ll need the water filtration system for above ground pools and replacement filters, which i also found on amazon. the video shows you exactly how to install it – but my handyman did secure the holes with extra washers and clamps to get really tight, waterproof hoses. i hired a handyman who specialized in pools and found him by calling pool supply stores for recommendations and researching on yelp. i also picked up an Adjustable Leaf Skimmer for skimming leaves and debris from the pool, which i actually find quite a zen experience — i think it’s my OCD kicking in that i love getting every last leaf!
the pool is 8 feet in diameter and about 3 feet tall, so while you definitely can’t do laps, it’s the best floating pool around and i’ve found hours of pleasure hanging out there with a hat and a good book. i got a Drift and Escape Pool Chaise Mattress in black and white stripe (another tip I stole from sarah!) and for easy inflation, an Electric Air Pump (save your breath!). if you want something smaller, this raft is pretty great, too and keeps you extra cool because the mesh keeps you partially submerged in the water — plus: drink cozy! oh, i also added a few of these cute Water Drop Shaped hooks to the fence and added a couple of turkish striped towels for guests.
and lastly, i had some wood planters around the deck, but as you can see i have so much green space in my backyard i thought they’d be better put to use as benches around the pool, so my carpenter built them over the planters. i then had him add poles so i could string my globe lights to create mood lighting at night, for hanging poolside, or evening floats. i then enlisted my favorite L.A. upholsterer Cerda’s to make custom cushions in light gray sunbrella waterproof fabric (with zippers so they can be washed) for the built-in benches — making it an extra cosy spot to read and catch some rays. i also added a few cacti and lanterns for a little extra ambiance, and voilá — my cowboy pool is complete! if you have any questions at all please let me know and i’ll do my best to answer them!
• photography by victoria smith for sfgirlbybay.
cowboy pool DIY.