With more than a month of summer left – one that is turning out to be one of the hottest ever – a cool dip in the water is the ideal way to spend a scorching August afternoon. Even if you're not lucky enough to have your own sunken pool, there is still plenty of splash in your own yard – all you have to do is get creative.
With the right tools and a little imagination, anyone can turn an outdoor space into a makeshift water park. All you need are a few relatively inexpensive additions, like an inflatable pool and good quality goggles (swimsuit and good posture not included). Here are five garden articles recommended by Wirecutter, the New York Times product recommendation site, so you and your family can cool off in your own garden.
Inflatable garden pools
Affordable and easy to set up and take down, plastic inflatable pools can almost recreate the joys of an above-ground pool with no commitments. While these "kiddie pools" can range from small setups that you throw away after a season to semi-permanent ones that require more maintenance, Wirecutter recommends using a portable pool with a capacity of up to 170 gallons or less. They tend to be cheaper, handier, and easier to store at the end of summer, although the flimsy material means they may not last more than a season or two.
Most inflatable pools are made of polyvinyl chloride (commonly referred to as PVC or vinyl), which is difficult to recycle. If you want to stay away from vinyl, a hard plastic pool is a good alternative, although these smaller pools are usually only suitable for a couple of children and not the whole family. Because they are more durable, rigid pools can last a few summers before being replaced, and they are usually cheaper because less setup is required. But with limited color, design, and capacity options, hard pools are less of the fun that many inflatable pools, such as pools with attached slides or built-in seats, can.
Pool noodles last longer than one season
Even in a wading pool, it's nice to be able to lean on a floating noodle or two, and you definitely don't want a cheap toy that breaks or falls apart. After testing several models, Wirecutter recommends the Fix Find Wacky Noodles (about $ 14 for a set of five) for kids and the larger Robelle Big Boss (about $ 42 for a set of six) for teens and adults.
Both are long-lasting options that will last a few summers before falling apart. This is because they're made of denser, higher quality foam that will repel water, stay stable during fierce noodle fights, and take longer to show the effects of sun exposure. For added fun, the center hole is large enough to create an excellent water cannon effect by filling and blowing it into one end.
Long-range water pistols
An intense but friendly water gun showdown will add lovable competition (and even exercise) to your summer afternoon. The best water guns are capable of reaching targets far away, and in Wirecutter's tests, the Stream Machine TL-750 (about $ 20) fired more than 55 feet of water. Its 22-inch length allows both older children and adults to comfortably hold it, making the Stream Machine Wirecutter the most popular piston-style water gun. Since it has no reservoir and drains quickly, it is perfect for use in a pool that allows for quick refills.
If you want to skip the kiddy pool this summer, try the Nerf Super Soaker Squall Surge (around $ 12; it mostly sells out online, but you may be able to find one at your local dealer) with a pressurized air pump chamber that enables continuous fire. Its 16-ounce internal reservoir means it doesn't need to be filled as often as the Stream Machine – although its stream only reaches about 35 feet and isn't quite as soaked as the Stream Machine.
An oscillating sprinkler with twice the performance
An oscillating sprinkler can do more than just water your lawn; it can also be a provisional obstacle course for wild youngsters. Wirecutter's most popular oscillating sprinkler is the Melnor XT4200M (about $ 35), which provides uniform coverage of approximately 4,000 square feet of lawn. With a sturdy and sturdy metal base, the Melnor Sprinkler is also the easiest to adjust of all the sprinklers we tested, allowing you to fine-tune the water flow, left and right width and arc length of the jet – perfect for going far – lawns scattered and new game patterns created.
And to protect children's feet, consider water shoes for their garden adventures. Wirecutter likes the lightweight yet sturdy Keen Stingrays (around $ 30).
Glasses for adults and children
No matter how you splash around in the garden, it is worth protecting your eyes from chlorinated water with reliable, well-fitting goggles.
There are three types of goggles on the market: professional goggles, mask goggles that offer a wider field of vision, and fitness and leisure goggles for recreational water. Through hours of research and testing, we've found that fitness and casual glasses are the best choice for most people, so all of our recommendations fall into this category.
Wirecutter's tip for adults and children is the Aqua Sphere Kayenne (about $ 30). These comfortable glasses provide a good seal that is essential for minimizing fogging and vision distortion. The children's version, the Aqua Sphere Kayenne Jr, is almost identical except for the size, but in Wirecutter's tests, the adult Kayennes also fit older children well. In fact, the Aqua Sphere Kayenne's slightly domed triangular lens can suit a wide variety of face types – narrow or wide, small or large. They're a solid swimming accessory whether you're running by the pool, on the beach, or just running through sprinklers in the back yard.
Want to learn more about the best things to buy and how to use? Visit Wirecutter, where you can read the latest reviews and find the latest offers.