Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water—you can’t! Yup, a perfect storm has converged right when homeowners were hoping to open up (or install) a pool in their backyards this season.
Since the COVID-19 lockdown forced folks to stick close to home, the desire for pools has skyrocketed. That’s created a dearth of pool-building materials and contractors who can put one in. Plus, there’s another problem you may not have expected: There’s a big chlorine shortage.
This essential chemical agent is in short supply not only because of high demand, but also because of a major fire last summer at a plant that makes a large share of the chlorine tablets that homeowners rely on.
The result? If you don’t already have a pool, you might not be able to put one in this year. And if you already own one and didn’t stock up on chlorine earlier this year, you may have to keep the cover on your pool for a while longer.
But in the interim, you can still stay cool without having to resort to a Slip ‘N Slide. (Save it for the kids!) Instead, check out these six cool pool alternatives.
1. Inflatable pool
There are kiddie pools, and then there are full-size inflatables—which are bigger, stronger, and sturdier than blowups of yore. This well-priced pool ($102, Amazon) has a built-in bench and backrest for lounging when you’re beat, plus there’s room for a couple of adults and a little one to splash about.
Shell out for a decent inflatable if you want it to last out the season.
“We bought an inflatable last year, and it didn’t hold up well under the weight of the water. We had to prop it up with a lawn chair,” says Darla DeMorrow, author of “Organizing Your Home with SORT and SUCCEED.”
2. Stock tank
Sure, it may sound a little hokey to fill a metal tank meant for farm animals and then submerge yourself in it, but stock tanks are affordable (usually just a few hundred bucks) and they can be surrounded with attractive pavers, plants, or decking.
While this backyard perk probably won’t add anything to your home’s resale value, stock tank pools will keep you cool in the trendiest way, notes Tony Mariotti, a real estate agent with RubyHome in Los Angeles.
“A stock tank’s rugged aesthetic goes very nicely with a xeriscaped yard, and it’ll absolutely grab the attention of home shoppers, particularly those in the first-time homebuyer price range,” he says.
3. Plunge pool
With some plunge pools sized as small as 4 by 6 feet, this diminutive alternative is about half the cost of a full-size in-ground pool, which usually ranges from $60,000 to $70,000. A petite pool can fit nicely into a tiny backyard or a corner of larger lawn where it won’t attract too much attention.
You’ll still need chlorine for this type of pool, but the maintenance for it is much lower (there’s less space for leaves and other debris to drop in), and it can be interred or rest above ground with decking or another surface around it.
4. Rental pools
Photo by Township Pools Houzz
You rent cars, right? Pools are the next big thing in the rental world. So if you need a place to cool off for only a couple of hours, renting someone else’s pool might be just the ticket.
Via a company that’s aptly named Swimply, all you have to do is find a pool in your area. (It’s like Airbnb for pools.) Once you’re approved to rent the pool, you’ll receive the exact address along with WiFi details and how to unlock the gate. How easy is that?
Soaker tubs, also known as Japanese ofuros, are chemical-free and typically fit one or two people easily. Some ofuros are made from traditional hinoki wood, while others are crafted from copper, steel, concrete, or old-growth redwood, as shown here ($15,900, 1stDibs).
Keep in mind that whatever water feature you choose needs to be easily emptied every day if it doesn’t have its own filter, says DeMorrow.
“Even a capful of water can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes in just a day, so make sure your pool alternative can be drained or tipped over,” she says.
6. Outdoor shower
While a shower may not seem in keeping with this list, rinsing off in a cold spray on a hot day is just as refreshing as dunking your head under water. And after the inflatable option, an outdoor shower is a very cost-conscious choice.
You can simply tap into your indoor plumbing by installing piping through an exterior wall. And you might make your outdoor shower more deluxe with a custom surround, bench to sit on, hanging plants, and even a landscaped pathway that leads to the entrance.