I'm looking to build a container to hold mud and water for a very specific exercise training.
- It doesn't need to look good
- It doesn't need to last more than a few weeks
- It should be able to hold most of the water for at least a couple weeks
- Can be above ground or in ground
- I should be able to build it at least two feet deep and 6 feet long

What are some of the cheapest materials I could use to hold water? I could just dig a big hole in the ground but I feel like that would lose water very quickly. Also I'd prefer something that's not difficult to dispose of, so concrete wouldn't be good. Maybe some kind of cheap plastic shipping container? Cover a bunch of wood 2x4's with foam seal?

This is perfect, but way above my price range:


  • No matter if it is a hole in the ground or a box it needs a water proof liner. The sides of a box will need to have significant strength to hold the weight of the water. 8 pounds per gallon.
    – Alaska Man
    Apr 25 '20 at 17:05
  • More specifically, the pressure goes up by about 0.5 pounds per square inch (or 70 pounds per square foot) for every foot of depth. That adds up fast. And, "shopping" questions are off-topic here. Apr 25 '20 at 17:27
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    Are you familiar with how heavy water is? It's stupid heavy. Apr 25 '20 at 23:21

How about you did a 4'x6'x2' hole and then get a 12'x16' waterproof tarp and lay it in the hole. Make sure the neighbors know you're not burying someone. See picture of waterproof tarp below.

enter image description here

  • This was my thought. You can get a giant black plastic sheet for cheap. You can use dirt from the hole to build up the sides and make the mud. When you are done you can fill the hole and the giant black plastic sheet can be folded up and used for something else later.
    – Willk
    Apr 25 '20 at 19:35
  • Plastic sheet can be easily punctured. If that could be a problem ,swimming pool vinyl is stronger. Apr 25 '20 at 20:32
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    That's the winnrar. Dirt has the merit of being strong enough to hold dirt. Apr 25 '20 at 23:22
  • 3
    @Michael Just a joke in these trying times..
    – JACK
    Apr 26 '20 at 12:10
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    Just as a follow-up, I ended up buying a tarp and digging a two foot hole and it's been working beautifully. When I was digging the hole I did it in the rain wearing a hoodie, which thinking back to your comment gave me a good chuckle. I should have started screaming my wife's name through tears just to see what the neighbors would do.
    – FoppyOmega
    May 7 '20 at 19:31

If you only need it for a few weeks rent a skip.

if they're dumping the mud on your land after the exwecise you won't be charged dump fees, just rental.


At scouting we build a frame from wooden poles, as scouts use when they do their pioneering badge, but any structure strong enough to hold the weight of the water would work. (Damaged pallets would be my choice, those that can not be turned in for a refund but if you use your pallets whole you can even get refunds for those used.)
The shape you want is that of the pool you showed in the question, but as the frame will be less specific, you will want to build it more sturdy, from wood it will get bigger.
Our scouts used the water on hot days as a small pool, but we used to leave the pool over to the next days on camp if the weather was going to stay hot, sometimes to the next weekend.

Cover the frame with old traps if you have them, to cushion the good one you are going to use for the waterproof layer.
Get a new tarp that is big enough to do the job, place it carefully and make sure you fold the corners such that the edge of the trap comes up to the top, all of the edge and the corner.
If your wooden structure comes higher than your expected water level, you can secure the edges of the trap with nails, I would prefer to use the rings in the edge and rope to secure it on the outside of the structure, in a way that does not damage the tarp.

If you do not trust the tarp or have to use an old one, you can use ductape on all places where you fear water will escape.
In the 'paint' part of the building supply shops you can sometimes buy clear plastic sheets to protect your furniture. If you can buy a heavy duty one which is as big as your tarp you can use that as an extra layer, which will add a water containing layer and will keep your tarp free of mud for later use. Whether it is needed depend on the structure of the tarp and whether it had been used before and whether you want to use it after.

If you need to store more than you can do with one tarp, you can make a multi pocket 'pool', each pocket the size of the tarp.
No digging needed and you can re-use your wood and tarp(s) after this project.

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