Sign up for the POOLSTYLE e-letter and emails

Receive the latest design trends, hot products, special offers, and more!


How to Make an Above Ground Pool Look Nice

How to Make an Above Ground Pool Look Nice

Above ground pools offer lots of great benefits: They’re budget-friendly (especially when compared to inground swimming pools). They’re quick to install, durable, and easy to maintain.

And from a pool design point of view, above ground swimming pools can look just as amazing as their in-ground counterparts. Surprised? Don’t be. Above ground pools have come a long way in recent years – and pool owners have gotten increasingly creative with their above ground swimming pool design hacks.

Need some great above ground pool design ideas? Not sure what design elements are right for you? In this article, we’ll take a look at 8 things you can do to make an above ground swimming pool look nice.

1. Surround it with a deck.

A deck will instantly elevate the look of any above ground swimming pool. And the best part about a pool deck is that the options are nearly limitless, from traditional wood decks to alternatives made from eco-friendly (and low-maintenance) recycled material.

Pool Design Tip: Raise the Deck for Inground Appeal

If you like the look of an inground pool, consider a raised deck: By bringing the ground up to your above ground pool’s edge, you can achieve the same look.

2. Take things to the next level(s).

A multi-level pool deck can add interest to an otherwise plain outdoor patio space. Adding levels can also create the illusion of having multiple spaces or areas – such as a dining space -- can help make a smaller space feel larger.

Inground Pool with Landscaping, Backyard Pool

3. Add a retaining wall.

If you love your inground pool – but you don’t love the look of the plain pool walls – consider surrounding your pool with a retaining wall. Going for a classic look? Materials like wood paneling, stone (or faux stone) can add instant interest and texture. Prefer a more modern vibe? Consider a poured concrete retaining wall for instant minimalist-meets-industrial chic.

Pool Design Tip: Mix materials for Instant Style

Wood and stone. Concrete and steel. Grass and gravel. By using a variety of materials and textures around your above ground pool, you can add interest and create a one-of-a-kind look. Don’t be afraid to play with unexpected combinations – the results might surprise you!

4. Throw shade.

Is your pool located in a particularly sunny spot? Do you live in a part of the country with nearly year-round sunshine? Add an umbrella or a pergola over your above ground pool for a perfect combination of form and sunburn-preventing function.

5. Design a lounge space.

Add some “oomph” to the area surrounding your above ground pool by creating an intentional, thoughtfully planned lounge area, complete with comfortable seating. This is also a great opportunity to personalize your outdoor space with decorative extras like outdoor cushions and throw pillows, indoor/outdoor accent rugs, and accent tables.

6. Liven things up with landscaping.

When it comes to designing your ideal pool area, few elements are as important as landscaping. From flowering plants and lush, green grass to shade trees and trendy succulents, the right combination of plants can really tie the whole space together.

Inground Pool with Lounge Chairs, Backyard Living

Pool Design Tip: Keep Things Contained

You love the idea of a pool surrounded by lush greenery – but you don’t have the space (or the time and money) required for a full-scale landscaping job. No worries: With a container garden, you get the look of live, lush plants in half the time (and cost). All you need is some good-quality potting soil, a pair of garden gloves, and a few terracotta pots, and you’ve got an instant pool design upgrade.

7. Set the mood with lighting.

It doesn’t matter if your pool is above ground, inground or somewhere in between: If you want your swimming pool to look awesome, you need to think about lighting. Not only will swimming pool lights help make your pool safer, they can also help you step up your outdoor décor game, too: Many swimming pool lighting kits are available in a range of color options, and some even come with pre-programmed “light shows.”

Pool Design Tip: Don’t Forget Landscape Lighting!

For even more pool area ambience, don’t limit your lighting to the pool itself. Add a few tiki torches around your patio, string up strands of twinkle lights, or hang a lantern or two in key gathering spaces.

Outdoor Chaise Lounge, Inground Pool Landscaping

8. Make your pool the star attraction.

Some above ground pools can work amazingly well as your main outdoor design element. If you’re going for a simple, minimalist aesthetic, a lap pool finished with sleek wood paneling and a few well-placed pool lights can pull double duty as a water feature. If you’re going for more of a resort-style look, consider adding a bubbling fountain to your above ground pool for an instant touch of luxury.