May 22, 2024


Super Art is Almost

How to make a stock tank pool

Let the record show that I’ve rather happily avoided being on trend my whole life. I never bought a shirt with shoulder cutouts, I part my hair on the side (sorry, Gen Z), and I would probably embarrassingly still say “awesome sauce” occasionally if I didn’t catch myself.

That all changed last summer when Joshua Tree landed in our Hudson Valley backyard by way of Tractor Supply Company.

We got a stock tank pool. Or, to take a step back: we bought a galvanized steel trough intended for watering livestock, drilled a couple of holes in it, added a pump and filter, and made a pool for our backyard. Country living, meet Instagram.

Our six-foot wide galvanized stock tank cost about $300, compared to a couple grand for an above-ground pool or $30,000 or more for an in-ground pool. For us, it was an affordable way to beat the heat during lockdown with beaches and lakes closed. Turns out we weren’t the only ones DIYing.

“From Canada to Mexico [and in the U.S.], stock tanks are getting gobbled up pretty quickly,” said Patrick Johnson, sales manager at Hastings Equity MFG., a supplier of stock tanks throughout the country.

In previous years, he said, five to 10 percent of stock tank sales were for lifestyle uses — pools, koi ponds, planters. Now 50 percent is going to the home user, and demand for their tanks has increased over 400 percent.

Provided you can get your hands on one, stock tank pools are a breeze to set up, don’t have sharp edges or require any inflation. At the end of the season, it’s easy to drain and flip them over to store gardening pots or tools underneath them in winter. And, apparently, they’re trendy. I made it, at last.

Here’s how to make your own stock tank pool:

Buy your stock tank. Tractor Supply or an Agway are your best local bets, or explore Amazon or another online store. Galvanized tubs range from a 2×4-foot oblong tank for solo soaking (about $100) on up to an 8-foot diameter pool (around $500) that holds 700 gallons of water and up to four adults. Got a friend with a pick-up truck who can help you bring a tank home? She’s now your best friend, delivery person and first pool guest.

Find an ideal spot. This should go without saying but let’s cover our bases anyway: rest the tank pool on a level, flat surface, within reach of both a hose and an electrical outlet for the pool pump. The pool should definitely not be placed above any underground septic systems or on a deck — when filled, a large stock tank pool can weigh almost three tons. A sunny spot is ideal to naturally warm the water.

Install a pump and filter. This extra step is the hardest part and scariest (the saw blade has teeth). But it’s also essential for keeping the interior of your pool clean and free of that slimy film that builds up without proper water circulation. Take a deep breath. You got this.


Drill, baby, drill. Use the hole saw to drill two holes in your pool: one near the bottom where the side meets the base to insert the strainer, and one higher up for the valve. We drilled the upper hole for our pool near the lip, which positions the valve slightly above the waterline, creating a pleasant bubbling sound that’s kind of like a backyard waterfall as the water circulates. Want a quieter pool? Drill the top hole a bit lower so the valve is submerged in water to silently circulate. Note: drilling metal means little steel bits can go flying. Wear goggles!

Follow step-by-step manufacturer instructions for installing the filter pump, strainer and plunger valves.

Fill and accessorize. A bobber with chlorine tablets will help keep the pool free of algae. Slice open pool noodles the long way and fit them on the rounded lip of the pool to create a soft head rest or cushion for sitting (protect your bum on hot shiny metal on a sunny day). Surrounding plants add a tropical feel while a floating rubber ducky is a nonnegotiable accessory in our books. We added a long wooden plank along the side to serve as a swim-up bar and book rest.

Go extra. Paint the outside of the pool a tropical color. For the crafty ones out there: build a deck around the pool, hugging it in a wooden embrace. Add a big umbrella or sun sail. It’s your oasis, man.

Keep backyard critters safe. No one wants a drowned squirrel or chipmunk (trust me on this), or mosquitos. Cover the pool with a tarp or cover when not in use. We place a long board across the pool so critters can climb out if they do land on the tarp.