Fun in the Sun
While summer isn’t my personal favorite time of year, it was definitely a time I looked forward to (for my kiddos) when we lived in our sticks-and-bricks home.
I can’t be in the sun or handle the heat for very long, but my kids absolutely lived for summertime back when we had a pool.
Each year we would set up our above-ground pool on the patio in our backyard and they would spend hours cooling off, playing, and swimming in it every single day throughout the summer months.
If skipping the public pool and keeping the pool party in your own backyard is more your style (like it was mine), these are the simple backyard pool must-haves & tools you will need to get started!
Backyard Pool Must Haves
If you think your backyard is too small for a backyard pool, think again.
We had a tiny backyard in our sticks-and-bricks home and I never dreamed we would be able to create the amazing setup that we did.
Plus, our budget for creating that setup was slim at best.
Check out my official list of backyard pool must-haves & get my quick tips for buying it all on a budget — from advice on when to shop and where.
Important Backyard Pool Must Haves
While some of these may sound like total no-brainers, these are all the essentials you will need when it comes to setting up your own above-ground backyard pool.
Check them out!
A High-Quality Pool
I know, I know — this probably goes without saying, but you can’t exactly have a great backyard pool setup without the pool!
With that said, investing in a high-quality backyard pool is essential — especially if you plan to reuse it year after year.
Small plastic or inflatable kiddie pools can be fun for little ones or feet soaking, but they simply aren’t the best option for family time.
However, with so many pool options available, it can be tricky to find the right one.
Thankfully, we found our perfect fit by chance (it was a clearance item) and this pool lasted us a full 5 years before we ended up selling it when we sold our home (prior to RV life).
Backyard Pool Budget TIP #1
If you’re serious about getting a pool for your backyard, but can’t afford the price of a brand-new one – check out these simple budget-friendly tips for getting started!
First, consider purchasing a used (or new) pool secondhand from online marketplaces.
You might just be surprised by what amazing finds you will discover.
If secondhand simply isn’t an option, follow these 3 steps to try and get your hands on a brand-new backyard pool at a fraction of the cost!
- Wait until summer is almost over and make frequent trips to local stores to check for clearance prices.
- Check back weekly or even multiple times a week, until the price drops to fit your budget.
- Be careful not to wait too long though, as in-stock items could either run out or be salvaged.
We purchased our pool this way and ended up getting it on clearance for 90% off — the day before it was to be salvaged!
With that said, this is a very tricky game to place.
We got incredibly lucky with our buy and it just happened to be timed completely right.
If we had waited just one more day, we would have totally missed out!
Our pool was stickered as a clearance item but had already been taken out of the store’s system (causing it to not ring up) and was set to be salvaged the next morning.
Customer service was awesome about this and ended up giving us an extra $10 off for the trouble.
It was an insane deal, you guys!
A High-Quality Pump
As much as I loved our pool of choice, I was never a huge fan of the pump it came with.
Our pump lasted the entire first year, then about 2-3 weeks into its second summer our pool turned green.
It happened quickly and was totally gross, you guys!
Needless to say, our pump was dying and we needed a new one ASAP.
After some quick research, I decided to try this high-quality sand pump, and was 100% the best decision ever!
Now, I’m not a huge fan of purchasing things for full price, but this pump was definitely worth the investment.
Plus, with only paying a fraction of the original cost for the pool, paying full price for a heavy-duty pump to go with it wasn’t that bad of a deal!
When we first got our pool set up, we had absolutely no idea what to expect or even what to purchase chemical-wise.
There are seriously a ton of different options out there!
Before heading to the store to buy up all the pool-related things, simply start with a low-cost pool maintenance kit.
This type of kit will quickly give you the stats you need for getting your pool water off to a good clean start.
Some water will need PH balancers and additional costly extras — while others won’t need much more than a small dose of chlorine.
This is why it’s important to test your water first.
Other starter chemicals I consider must-haves for keeping any pool water clean and clear all summer are pool shock & chlorine tablets.
Backyard Pool Budget TIP #2
- Sign up for the Clorox mobile app or deal emails to get a $10 off coupon every single summer!
*NOTE: since we no longer have a pool and have no need for these items, I cannot guarantee this is still an active offer, but it is definitely worth checking out! With that said, we did this when we had our pool and it was an easy way to save.
- Purchase chlorine or shock on clearance towards the end of the summer and store for the following year.
We typically print our coupon and do one large purchase at the very beginning of pool season when stock is high.
This simply ensures that we will have what we need for getting started.
Then, we check back at our local stores for end-of-season clearance in July or Aug. Not only does this method save us a little cash, but it helps us prepare for the upcoming year!
Powerful Cleaning Tools
Once your pool and pump are set up and the water is treated, it’s time to figure out what tools you need.
While some of these tools are 100% essential, others just make the job easier. Plain and simple!
You can go super simple and stick to things like manual skimming or you can splurge and take your pool game up a notch.
Check out my 3 favorite cleaning tools for the backyard pool.
1) Pool Maintenance Kit
You really only need a handful of items to care for your backyard pool on a day-to-day basis.
The most important starter tool you can get is a high-quality pole system that includes a brush, hand skimmer, and a vacuum head.
This system will help take care of all your pool cleaning needs.
Try to skip purchasing tools that come with their own poles and get a system that is easily interchangeable. This is not only a money saver but also a great space saver as well!
2) An Automatic Pool Skimmer
Purchasing an automatic pool skimmer that can easily be attached to the side of your pool is the easiest way to keep the surface water free of debris all summer long.
Plus, it’s a great way to cut down on manual skimming — which can be very time-consuming.
Simply attach and run the skimmer 15-20 minutes before you hop into the pool and the surface will be completely clean!
This beauty definitely cuts down on your hand-skimming time, but keep in mind it works much better with a stronger pump like the sand pump we purchased.
3) A Sun Shocker/Pool Ionizer
Keeping a simple sun shocker in your pool during peak sun hours is a great way to cut down on chlorine usage, while still maintaining an algae-free pool!
This was a lifesaver for us when our pump was dying.
If you choose to invest in this simple tool, just make sure to brush the copper rod a few times during the season to keep it at its highest functioning level.
Fun Backyard Pool Must Haves
Now that you’ve gotten pool maintenance taken care of, it’s time to focus on the fun parts of having your own backyard pool!
Check out my top picks for backyard pool fun!
From floating rafts to doughnuts, inflatables can be such a blast in your backyard pool.
When we had our backyard pool, my top pick was hands down these awesome arm floaties for the littles.
My daughter wore these things till she could comfortably touch the bottom of our pool standing up — a good three years I’d say.
While there are cheaper options out there floaties-wise, spending a little extra is worth it when it comes to pool safety for kids. Most of the higher-end inflatables we purchased lasted the entire summer (at least) and I was incredibly thankful for it.
Cheaper arm floaties & innertubes on the other hand would die within weeks of purchase.
Backyard Pool Budget TIP #3
While you can typically find small savings on things like these throughout pool season, I’ve actually found that there is usually a good selection left over with the end-of-the-season clearance items.
If it’s your first year with a backyard pool, and you need a few items to get you started try these simple tips!
- Shop early! Most seasonal items will be on sale at least once early on.
- Participate in holiday sales! Memorial Day & the 4th of July are great times to stock up on additional fun items for the pool.
With that said, clearance finds are always best — but never guaranteed!
I got my daughter’s favorite arm floaties on clearance for just a couple of bucks and it was the best investment ever!
I’ve also been known to find high-quality donut inflatables on clearance for under $1!
Yes! Toys are an essential backyard pool must-have if you have kiddos.
With toys, your kids will want to spend hours and hours in the pool each and every day they can!
Check out my top 3 pool toy must-haves!
- Dive rings – because kiddos need things to dive for!
- Kickboards – because not all kiddos can swim well.
- Oballs – because they are awesome!
Having Oballs mixed in with your pool toys may sound a little strange, but they are seriously the best balls to have in the pool! Not only are they easier to keep in the pool (because they are easier to catch) but they make for a fabulous game of monkey in the middle (pool edition).
Backyard Pool Budget TIP #4
Pool toys can be super hit-and-miss when it comes to finding deals.
I typically get a couple of small things throughout the season when small deals or ad sales pop up. Then, I check back for clearance finds towards the end of summer.
There will be the occasional steal-of-a-deal finds but nothing guaranteed.
Other Backyard Pool Must Haves
Once you’ve set up the pool, bought your cleaning essentials, and stocked up on toys, it’s time to check safety essentials and other pool must-haves off the list!
Suits & Towels
While it’s obvious your family will need towels & suits for swimming, you might consider purchasing a simple set of beach towels for after-swim purposes only.
This will simply help cut down on bath towels mysteriously missing or getting sunfaded throughout the crazy summer months.
Backyard Pool Budget TIP #5
While new suits and fun beach towels are great, the cost can definitely add up.
Luckily, there are always some great offers or deals throughout the summer to keep an eye out for.
For suits, I typically try to catch the earliest sale I can. Most stores offer discounts on swimsuits as early as spring break or Easter.
I mainly do this because purchasing swim gear for kids during end-of-season clearance sales can be super hit-and-miss! Kids grow fast and NEWS FLASH — clothes don’t grow.
Towels, however, are always best to stock up on when things go on clearance at the end of the season.
*Bonus tip – if you aren’t in need of beach towels specifically, simply stock up on regular bath towel deals during the off-season.
Googles are a true essential for pool-loving kiddos.
Not just any goggles will do though.
I learned rather quickly that it’s super important to get high-quality goggles for kids.
After purchasing a few different brands, we settled on Speedo goggles.
These goggles are seriously the only ones that have ever lasted an entire season.
With that said, my kids are super hard on goggles – so I almost always ended up buying them a new pair every single year!
However, they do their job really well — keeping water out.
Other brands we have purchased in the past have been tossed or given away for breaking quickly, leaking water, or physically causing harm to my children.
Year after year we trusted these awesome goggles to get it right.
While my older boys prefer the snorkeling set, everything we’ve purchased from this brand has been a winner.
Backyard Pool Budget TIP #6
Waiting for these to go on clearance can be super tricky.
Most of the time, the end-of-season selection is pretty slim and you may just miss out on the correct sizing for your little swimmer.
I highly suggest just keeping an eye out for those holiday sales towards the beginning of the season for swim gear such as goggles.
My suggestion is to buy early in the season, then check back in late summer for the possible random clearance find.
It doesn’t hurt to have extras on hand, especially if your kids are anything like mine!
Sunscreen is incredibly important when enjoying your backyard oasis!
Sunburns are nothing to joke around with, and utilizing a non-toxic sunscreen is key for ultimate protection.
With that said, sunscreen isn’t the only way to protect from the sun’s harmful rays.
Investing in simple rash guards and sun hats is a great way to cut down on sunscreen usage and protect your little ones from burning during the harsh summer months!
Backyard Pool Budget TIP #7
Stock up during summer essentials sales and look online for additional coupon savings!
You can always, always find a good sunscreen sale during the summer.
I never worry about stocking up on this stuff too much after the season as it does expire and clothes may not fit the following year.
Final Backyard Pool Must Haves
While the necessities, toys, and sun safety are all important — simple pool organization is also essential!
Aside from the actual pool, this might possibly be the most important step to creating the backyard pool area of your dreams!
Storage is the key to a functioning backyard pool.
Without the proper bins and totes – you will have suits, towels, and toys spread out all over your backyard (trust me, I know).
Having all your pool things in a catch-all place will ensure a smoother finish to the long summer days.
Check out my top 2 picks for summertime storage.
- Outdoor storage bin – to tuck away the toys.
- Utility Tote – to store fresh laundered suits and towels.
- Small Caddy – to hold small extras like sunscreen
Backyard Pool Budget TIP #8
Stock up on storage items during sales.
For your outdoor storage needs, waiting till your local store runs a patio sale or no finance deal is key!
Sometimes stores will run great deals during the season, but you can almost always count on finding excellent prices at the end of the season as well!
Backyard Pool Must-Have Tips
One final tip before we go.
While purchasing immediately might be exciting, holding off and creating a budget & a plan might be the best money-saving option!
If purchasing a backyard pool at full price simply isn’t an option, I highly suggest starting with a simple backyard pool wish list.
Then, simply pay attention to on-season sales and check back for off-season clearance deals — purchasing individual items for your pool over the course of a year!
This can be a HUGE money saver and it’s actually how we planned for our first year.
We purchased our pool on clearance at the end of the season, then started the hunt for everything else.
Thus making us ready to enjoy our backyard pool oasis the following summer!
It was totally worth it in the end.
Happy Swimming 🙂
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