Backyard Lazy River Pool Ideas

Here’s our gallery of backyard lazy river pool ideas showcasing the best water features, costs, and designs.
Lazy river pool with water feature, waterfall and hot tub island

A lazy river is one of the most well loved attractions in water parks — a gentle, calming ride that takes you through a tranquil course, while basking in the sun. Because of the enjoyable feeling it offers, a lot of people have become drawn to making it a part of their own home.

Surely, any swimming pool is a great addition to any backyard, but a lazy river can heighten the experience and make it more entertaining and relaxing.

Below, we give you the answers to some of the most common questions on building a backyard lazy river, along with some great design ideas and tips you can try out for your own home.

What Is A Lazy River Pool?

Rock lined lazy current pool at luxury home

A lazy river is a shallow pool, usually 2½ ft. to 3½ ft deep, with a slow water current. It flows similarly to a natural river and provides a relaxing way for guests to gently ride along while lying on rafts, or inner tubes.

Lazy rivers are a common feature found in water parks, resorts, hotels, community pools, and recreation centers. But nowadays, you can find them in residential settings too — thanks to a more simplified design, installation, and water current system. Most lazy rivers connect to larger pools, while others complete a course or a circuit. 

They are also called leisure rivers, or flowing pools and are great fun for kids, teens and adults alike. They appeal to audiences looking for a calmer and slower paced activity, compared to thrilling water slides.

How Do Leisure Rivers Work?

Luxury pool with waterfall bridge and amazing lighting

The heart of the system of a traditional lazy river uses the same pumps found in pools and spas, only in a larger size and quantity. The gentle flow of water and the slow current are produced by a water-flow system with a couple of jets and intake locations.

Together, they work to ensure that the current is even and consistent throughout the course of the waterway.

For large pools, the pumping system moves tens or even hundreds of thousands of gallons of water at typical speeds of 1 to 3 miles per hour. This is achieved by placing low or medium head pumps in strategic locations all throughout the artificial river.

Backyard Waterway Pool Cost

Tranquil pool with gazebo island

A lazy river is mostly a customized pool, so its construction cost varies greatly depending on the type of project and features included. Most consider it a very expensive type of luxury swimming pool— with estimates from experts exceeding up to $500,000.

However, this does not mean that you can’t build a backyard pool with a smaller budget. As we have said, there is no accurate value for it as it depends on a number of cost factors.

Average Lazy River Pool Cost

Rock river curved pool with stone bridge to island

On the average, a simple backyard lazy river pool in an oval shape costs below $120,000. However, a 400 foot backyard leisure river pool with a more complex design can cost over $600,000.

Based on the estimated prices of trusted pool makers, the standard cost for a 50ft x 100ft x 52in backyard swimming pool is around $80,000, but the price can go up to $88,000 if you want it with a current. Whereas smaller-sized pools with dimensions of 18ft x 30ft x 52in only cost around $9,000. You can get a similar size to the current one for only $11,600.

If you are working with a limited budget, you can explore other options to save on costs. You can check pool suppliers as they offer no frills, oval shaped loop pools with product prices that range from $7,249.99 to $9,649.99 for a 15ft x 24ft x 52in size. These packages already have the pump, filter, hoses, connections, skimmer, and ladder.

If you’ll notice, the price for each size of pool differs greatly, and this also varies from one company to another. To get the best deal, obtain quotes from at least three suppliers for comparison.

Expect your total project cost to go lower or higher depending on the following factors:

● The size of the lazy river pool – The pool size is the most significant factor that defines the price. Generally, expect to pay around $100-$170 for every square foot.

● Location – The area where you live is also another factor since the price of labor and materials vary from one place to another. Aside from this, you also have to pay for permits needed to construct backyard pools.

● Type, Speed, and Dimensions – The construction type, flow rate, and design shape.

Every river holds a different construction price. A pool for family fun or relaxation is classy and elegant but pricey. Or it could be adventurous and exciting, costing you more. So, build a river that fits your personality and life.

When planning for a leisure river design, consider the speed of the current and its mode, whether it will be fixed or varied, or it will twist or go on a straight path. Also, consider the length and dimensions. The longer and deeper the pools, the more labor and materials will be required.

● Materials – The materials used in making pools will take up a chunk of your budget. The most common and cheapest material to use is vinyl. Whereas concrete or gunite is considered to be a premium material and considered to be the most expensive.

Another option is fiberglass, which is considered to be a mid priced material and costs between a vinyl and a concrete or gunite pools. Finishing materials such as tiles and mosaics can also add up the total cost for pools.

Design and Additional Features – The “extras,” accessories like hot tubs, waterfalls, and other water features, can cost you more than the pool itself. There are additional add-on products, such as water slides and diving boards. There are also accents like fire features, pool lighting, outdoor kitchens, and more.

Whether you plan to tackle the bulk of the maintenance chores or hire a service technician to take care of some or all of them, being an educated pool or spa owner is a cornerstone for long-lasting enjoyment. – Black & Decker The Complete Guide: Maintain Your Pool & Spa Repair & Upkeep Made Easy, Rich Binsacca

● Maintenance System – Aside from the materials and labor needed for construction, building a backyard pool will accrue additional costs for its maintenance. Lazy rivers need maintenance systems that will prevent any type of debris from floating along the water current.

According to homeowners, the monthly cost to maintain a backyard lazy river pool is around $500. In addition to this, you will also need an extra budget for the maintenance of the pressure valves and pumps that keep your water flowing. Lastly, expect to pay more for the chlorine you need for the water.

Meandering River Style Pool Kits

Pool kit for water channel with flagstones flower pot

If you want to have a backyard lazy river pool, but you are dealing with a limited budget, one alternative you can try to save on costs is to use a do-it-yourself kit. Trusted suppliers offer waterway kits that are easy to assemble and perfect for a DIY project.

These pool kits not only contain the complete materials that you need for building meandering pools, but they also typically come with a 20-year warranty.

When you order a kit from a retailer, they will give you several options for the materials. The total price will depend on your specifications, but generally, they cost less than custom-made pools. Based on the estimates of trusted suppliers, a 44′ x 48′ x 48 pool kit approximately costs $28,905.00

There are several components of a flowing pool kit, and each element comprises a different material. The pool walls, for example, can either be made up of polymer or steel.

The pool wall braces are fabricated with heavy duty steel, while the liner is usually vinyl. Pool liners come in various colors and designs, most of which mimic the appearance of tiles.

Below are some of the typical contents of a lazy river pool kit.

● Liner
● Walls
● Wall braces
● Bottom
● Corner radius
● Pool coping
● Polymer step
● Liner over steel pool step
● Additional features (optional) : Pool bench/ swim out platform, built-in spa, spill over spa
● Step jet kit
● Deck jets

Lazy River Pool Designs

Lazy tubing pool in backyard with trees on center island

There are a lot of designs that you can explore for lazy river pools. You can customize it in any shape, size, and style that you want — from a simple round or oval-shaped pools to more complicated forms.

There are also several features and accessories that you can add to your pool design. Here are some popular and special design features that you can try out:


Backyard meandering pool with rock waterfall

Swimming pool waterfalls are not only the perfect center of attention in backyard lazy river pools, but they also help elevate the experience. A stunning waterfall is the perfect feature for a tropical-themed backyard. To complete the look, you can add in some palm trees and rocks in the surrounding landscape.


Custom pool with flowing current, rock wall feature and hot tub

Fountains that have gentle bubblers or spray streams of water that fall away into the river ride waterway are sought-after features of a custom design.

Rock Water Features

Backyard gentle stream pool with rock feature

Custom rock features with waterfalls, slides, and diving platforms can enhance the ambiance of the backyard.

Pool Grotto

Pool with grotto, water feature and river with bridge

A grotto is a large rock waterfall with a nook or a cave like space beneath. A pool grotto can serve as an extension of your stream circuit. This is a fun addition since you can swim into the cavern or relax in it.


Large river loop pool with middle pool island in backyard

Adding an island to your lazy river pool completes a “beach getaway” vibe. You can put an island at the center of the pool loop, and it can serve as an oasis where you can set up almost anything. You can put in a swimming pool cabana, or an umbrella and some chairs if you want a small nook for eating out, or alternatively, you can add lounge chairs for added relaxation.

If you have some more budget, you can also ask a professional to install a hot tub or a soaking pool on the island. To make your island more interesting, make sure to work on the landscape — build a ring of trees and flowering plants around the island for more visual interest.

Sunbathing Shelf

Backyard serene river with sunbathing shelf

A sunbathing shelf provides a place to enjoy the water and stay cool without leaving the comfort of the pool. These come in a variety of style to resemble a natural beach or rock formations.

Bridge Over the Lazy River

Backyard river waterway pool with bridge and rock design

If you have an island, you can also add a bridge that will extend over the water channel. You can experiment with the design of your bridge and use a variety of materials, such as bricks, rocks, and metal, to make it more interesting. Add outdoor furniture or structure like a pergola or gazebo for a place for enjoyment out of the sun.

Scenic elements and landscaping

Lagoon pool with flowing design

For a more enticing lazy river, you can add other scenic elements and landscaping. Trees, plants, and large planters can complete the whole look of your tiny oasis and give a feeling of being on a real river or tropical lagoon with nature. See more lagoon pool ideas here.

Custom River-loop Pools

Large backyard river-loop pool

Aside from ready to assemble pool kits, another option you can explore is a custom made lazy river pool. Custom pools are the perfect choice if you have a particular design in mind that you want to achieve.

In this option, your lazy river design is tailor-made according to your specific needs, requirements, and preferences. You can have it constructed in any way you want by a pool designer, manufacturer, and supplier.

In order to plan your custom pool properly, you need to have an idea of some of the common design considerations, requirements, and standard measurements for these pools:

● Standard measurements of lazy river pools – Usually, the standard measurements are 50 feet long by six feet wide and 3.5 feet deep. But this can be adjusted according to what you want.

● Minimum width  – The width of the pool has to be at least 6 feet.

● Minimum depth – the depth of these pools starts at 3 ½ feet.

● Minimum size of plot for leisure-river pools – Most swimming pool designers can create a design with a waterway in a plot with an area of 30 feet x 40 feet or 20 feet x 50 feet.

● Recommended course length  – Flowing pools sprawl, so professionals generally propose at least 50 to 60 feet in length for the pool. Given the rate or speed of the current, this length is enough for the course to be enjoyable.

● Recommended speed of the current – The current of lazy rivers is gentle and slow. A laid-back ride moves at the rate of 1 to 2 miles per hour, however, if you want something livelier, you can go for something closer to 3 miles per hour.

For more ideas, check out our swimming pool water features gallery.

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    1. That’s a great question. We don’t currently have a list of lazy river pool manufacturers. I believe American Aqua Designs and the Pool Warehouse both offer these kits. Good luck.

  1. If my lazy river is 3 1/2 deep and 10 feet long, and I use a 7 1/2 hp pump, what would the speed of the ride be. I don’t want it to slow.

  2. I would love a 30 by 50 round fiberglass lazy river 3.5 deep and 6 ft wide
    How much is a simple rectangle type cost with delivery to beaumont much is Installion for this size and or just the fiberglass and pump and I install it?

  3. I’m building a lazy river in my backyard right now and am trying to figure out what the best height would be for the bridges over the river. I’m 6’2″ and the depth of the water is 4′. I’m currently planning on the bridge to have a maximum height (between the ground and the bottom of the highest part of the lower part of the bridge) to be 6’5″. Should it be higher than this. is 2’5″ enough space for tubers to float comfortably below the bridges?

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