6 Benefits Of A Small Backyard Plunge Pool? Let’s Dive Deep

Me dreaming of the benefits of a small backyard plunge pool of my very own.

Last Updated on July 13, 2024 by Beth Martin

I live in hot, sweaty Charleston, SC, so I probably spend 85% of my time daydreaming about a backyard pool. We have a tiny postage stamp-sized yard behind our 1930s home, which means a plunge pool is the perfect solution.

A large pool would be amazing, but there are many benefits to smaller backyard pool ownership. I’ve been obsessively researching how a modest-size pool can enhance our landscape design and I have the lowdown on the realities of a plunge pool.

So grab some floaties and dive (or safely step) in with me!

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6 Major Benefits of Plunge Pools

You wouldn’t believe how many times a week either my husband or I say, “wouldn’t it be nice to be in a pool right now?” A plunge pool would make this a year-round reality for us.

A tropical backyard with a unique shaped pool house with a small cocktail pool.

1. Space Efficiency

Many homeowners think they need a huge backyard to have a pool, but that’s just not true. Plunge pools can fit in even the tiniest spaces, giving almost everyone with a backyard the option to live out their backyard pool dreams.

Plunge pools are typically 7′ to 10′ wide and 12′ to 20′ long. Because of their smaller size, they usually have a uniform depth of 4′- 6′, but five feet is a very common depth.

2. Price

Price is a bit of a plunge pool, which can be a complicated story. Smaller pools can mean less space, which in turn means less money—short-term and long-term (but this isn’t always true – see the cons below).

Small pools require fewer construction materials, saving you money or allowing you to afford more luxurious finishes than you would with a larger swimming pool.

Cocktail pools require less water, which is a great cost-saving and more eco-friendly than a traditional pool.

The compact spaces of your plunge pool mean you won’t need as many chemicals to clean it, and this is a cost savings that will add up over time.

A relaxing black hammock is next to a serene small backyard pool.

3. Four Seasons of Enjoyment

Even a traditional pool can be heated and cooled, but this is expensive and unsustainable to do often. However, cocktail pools are so small that they can be conditioned easily, so the water is always at the perfect temperature.

A hot tub is great in the colder months, but that’s only a few days weeks in Charleston. Just going outside in the summer feels like a steam room.

It makes way more sense to have the option to heat and cool the water, so it’s a tranquil space in both the winter and hot summer months—which, let’s face it, starts in March, where I live.

4. Therapeutic Benefits

Just because it’s called a cocktail pool doesn’t mean the small space is only good for drinks. A plunge pool’s modest size is also excellent for water aerobics.

Since a small pool can be heated and cooled efficiently, it’s a great option for muscle recovery. Spa jets can also be added to make your plunge pool feel even more like a hot tub!

A round shaped cocktail pool is on a balcony overlooking a lush forest.

5. Less Maintenance Means More Swimming

It’s no secret that pools can require a lot of upkeep. But a smaller pool also means less work cleaning and more time enjoying the cool waters!

The maintenance difference between a standard pool and a small pool isn’t huge since they both need the same scheduled care, but a smaller pool will be less. There is just less surface area for leaves and debris to fall into.

A chic plunge pool in Mexico is surrounded by natural wood chairs and tropical plants.
Image via Airbnb

6. Faster Installation

Small backyard pools can be prefabricated, greatly reducing the installation process. While prefab isn’t a necessity, it is an excellent option if you want to be in your swimming pool quickly.

Choosing the prefab route will reduce your design options, but sometimes, less is more. There are many prefab options to consider, from traditional fiberglass to modern shipping containers with glass windows to traditionally styled drop-in options from Soake Pools.

The Downside to Smaller Pools

1. Price

The cost of a small backyard pool can work in your favor, but this is not always true. Depending on your region or the pool company you hire, a plunge pool may cost just as much as a traditional pool.

The pool industry has taken off since 2020, so many pool contractors don’t want the hassle of building a smaller pool. If a company has many larger pools lined up, your plunge pool may end up being very similar in price to a traditional pool.

A courtyard in Italy has plenty of seating and a cocktail pool is surrounded by flowering jasmine.
Image via Marriott

2. Limited Space

A plunge pool can only fit a couple of people, so it’s not ideal for parties or larger families. Plunge pools are ideal for simply relaxing and cocktails and less for games and splashing.

An above ground plunge pool is fed by a decorative fountain and located in a tropical yet modern space.
Above-ground plunge pools can still look chic.

3. Maintenance

All pools require maintenance and the money associated with it. Some people hate the effort required for a pool, while smaller plunge pools still require work.

Plunge Pool Design Ideas

In-Deck Plunge Pool

A picturesque backyard has a sleek wood deck with a built in plunge pool.
Image via Soake Pools

A small pool can seamlessly integrate into your deck or patio floor. If your deck is raised, this would be an above-ground pool. While above-ground pools get a lot of hate when designed to complement your outdoor living space, they can be an effective and chic way to plan your outdoor space.

Great Shapes

An organic shaped plunge pool pairs nicely in this boho backyard decorated with bistro lights.

With a smaller swimming pool, you don’t need to feel limited to a basic square or rectangle. Organic-shaped pools or even a circle can be a great design option for creating an integrated landscape design.

Custom shapes will add to the cost, but if you want to create a stunning focal point with your outdoor pool, let your imagination run wild.


A luxurious plunge pool on the deck at Nihi Sumba Resort looks out over the Indian Ocean.
My favorite plunge pool ever is at Nihi Sumba Resort.

Your plunge pool may be small, but this does not mean you can skip the details. Integrating thoughtful accessories and outdoor furniture is easier when you have a smaller space to work with, so use this to your advantage.

One of my favorite cocktail pools I’ve ever been to is shown above. A beautiful terracotta pitcher was turned into a water feature, making this small backyard pool the most relaxing private oasis.

Be creative with your design, and don’t be afraid to use unusual materials. Add spa jets, unique tiles, a Baja ledge, or anything you can think of to set your outdoor space apart from the rest.

Add a Lap Pool

A quaint plunge pool with lots of seating blends in well with the character of the historic style home in Charleston, SC.
Image via Airbnb

Swimming laps is still possible with a plunge pool! With an attachment like Endless Pools, you are able to exercise and swim laps, even in the limited space of a cocktail pool. The attachment is minimal, so it won’t affect the style of your small pool, and you won’t have any excuses for not getting your cardio in.


A typical plunge pool can be between 4′-8′ deep, but 5′-7′ is a more typical range. Since the pool is smaller, having a flat bottom with one water level is best.

Around 4.5′ to 5′ deep is typically deep enough for most people to be submerged yet shallow enough to feel relaxed.

Pools, even plunge pools, are expensive, and you won’t get a total return on this investment when you choose to sell your property. Not everyone loves a pool, and some see them as a disadvantage.

Small backyard pools are great for adults but not ideal for kids. Plunge pools are more for lounging and sipping cocktails than water games, so you might want to save the backyard grass space if you have little ones.

Absolutely! Plunge pools’ pint-sized size makes them perfect for heating and cooling. No matter the weather, your cocktail pool will be the perfect spot to lounge.

Small backyard pools should be around 7’x7′ or larger.

A “cowboy,” or stock tank pool, is a DIY version of a traditional plunge pool. This version may or may not have a pump and has gained immense popularity on social media over the years.

While they aren’t as nice as traditional pools, they certainly are an excellent affordable option!

Final Thoughts

One of the plunge pools’ unique selling points is their ability to transform even the smallest backyard into a tranquil oasis. By fitting snugly into tight backyard spaces, these pools make luxurious relaxation accessible to homeowners who might otherwise think they lack the room for such amenities. 

Ultimately, whether a plunge pool is the right choice for your backyard depends on your unique needs and preferences. These petite pools can pack a powerful punch, offering a serene blend of relaxation and aesthetic charm. 

So, as you weigh your options and envision your ideal outdoor space, consider the joy that a small backyard pool may bring. After all, when creating your personal oasis, sometimes, good things do come in small packages.


A sleek, yet organic plunge pool looks like the epitome of chic in this tropical backyard oasis.

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