Don't Try to Make a Backyard Lazy River

people on floats in a backyard lazy river
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When you were on vacation, enjoying the lazy river pool at a resort, you may have allowed your thoughts to wander back home, envisioning bringing the same vibe to your own backyard. And really, who can blame you? Who wouldn’t want a lazy pool meandering throughout the property to enjoy?

We’re here to give you a reality check because installing a lazy river is the exact opposite of lazy. It’s a comprehensive, borderline soul-crushing DIY task that no one should actually try. Here’s why.

1. The Lazy Design Phase

Grab a pencil and paper. Draw a rectangle. On a separate piece of paper, draw a lazy river with equal spacing, natural curves, and a uniform look. Make sure your corners are sweeping and wide enough, or you’ll find yourself in a pool floatie traffic jam as you involuntarily play bumper cars in the water.

If you’re as lazy as a lazy river, you’ll immediately see which of these two options is the easiest to draw. The same applies to installation. Imagine framing and pouring concrete for a rectangle compared to the task of a lazy river.

curved empty cement pool

In addition to the actual shape of the pool, you’ll also need to consider filters and drains. Plus, you’ll need to design the surrounding landscaping. A lazy river requires concrete not just for the areas that will hold water—most incorporate large concrete areas in between the curves too. That means building in space for landscape beds or planning to plant in raised beds. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself with a barren, hot desert island of concrete.

2. Do You Like your Friends and Family?

happy woman on float in lazy river pool

It’s one thing to enjoy your own little section of moving water when surrounded by strangers at the resort, but if you enjoy hanging out with your friends and family, you’re going to find them most often on the opposite side of the pool. It doesn’t exactly invite conversation and quality time together.

3. Jet Technology

Okay, you don’t like your family, and your sketching skills aren't great, so you’re still considering a lazy river pool. Have you ever built a hot tub? If not, it’s likely because the jets are essential components that take some skill to understand and install. A lazy river requires a current to keep you moving, and that current comes from jets—lots of jets. And pumps—several big, powerful pumps.

powerful jet underwater in a pool

4. You Lack Depth

Lazy river pools are typically not very deep, often only two to four feet. The shallow water makes it easier for the jets to do their job. However, if you want to do anything other than float, you’ll find yourself running in a squatted position just to stay underwater. And unless you have amazing built-in sonar, getting in any sort of lap workout is out of the question. The kids will also miss out on the hazards of a diving board or the ever-popular slide.

5. Extraordinary Pool Comes With Extraordinary Costs

If budget is of no concern, hire the job out and look forward to enjoying your lazy pool. Of course, you can save money by committing to the project DIY style, but you could likely build multiple standard pools for the cost of a custom lazy river pool. It’s common for the bill to be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

swimmers on floats in a tropical themed lazy river pool

6. Covering and Maintenance

The lazy pool boy loves a standard, rectangular pool with a retractable pool cover that’s manually or automatically expanded and rolled back up. The cover just sits at the end of the pool, neatly tucked away until it’s time to cover up for the day or the season. A lazy river, however... well, we’ll let you imagine how one would go about covering it.

Much of the maintenance is the same as for a standard pool, including balancing chemicals and cleaning out filters, but an ill-devised lazy river pool will force leaves and other debris into bends where the current drops off.

There are also more pumps and jets, which inevitably means more replacement parts down the road. So in addition to the ridiculously high price to build it in the first place, your lazy pool could run $500 per month in costs. But hey, if you have time to make money and still enjoy the pool, go for it!