In ground hot tubs, also known as in-ground spas, are a great addition to your backyard. They come with a variety of features and benefits that make them perfect for some hot tub owners. In this article, we’ll cover what an in ground hot tub is, how they work, and the factors you should consider before purchasing one. If you’re ready to turn your backyard into a relaxing paradise, then keep reading!

What is an in ground hot tub?

An in-ground hot tub isn’t as simple as just putting a “hot tub in the ground.” Rather, it is a style of installation that consists of a few different and special setups. You may also see this style of installation referred to as a “recessed” hot tub or a “sunken” hot tub. There are generally three styles of in ground hot tubs:

  1. Recessed
  2. Semi-Recessed
  3. Illusion

We will go into detail on each style of installation below. Each of these styles of installations shares one common characteristic, they are all embedded into their environment in some form or another. Whether it is fully embedded and in the ground, partially, or just appears to be embedded, they are part of their surroundings. 

Advantages/Disadvantages of In Ground Hot Tubs

Just like many decisions, your choice to install a hot tub in ground will come with pros and cons. Let’s take a look at some of those.


  • You can customize the look of your spa with whatever veneer you choose.
  • You have a large selection of materials to use for coping, defined as “the top, typically sloping, course of a brick or stone wall,” which trims the spa perimeter. You can choose from brick, pavers, tile, composite, natural stone, etc.
  • Your hot tub will look like it was designed for your backyard. It will “fit in.”
  • Unobstructed view
5 Person In Ground Hot Tub by Aqua Living


  • Semi-permanent installation. (You can technically move your spa again, but it would require a large amount of time and money.)
  • More expensive
  • Harder for technicians to service your spa. (Can make service calls more expensive.)

Types of In-Ground Installation

The type of installation you choose will be heavily influenced by the look you want for your backyard, financial resources, landscape, and other factors. However, you should know about some of the main options to choose from. 

  1. Full-recessed – This is when your spa is embedded completely into its environment. 
  2. Semi-recessed – Your spa is partially embedded into its environment with about 12 inches left out. (This also leaves room for a traditional cover.)
  3. Illusion – This is when your spa simply looks like it has been put “in-ground.” For example, it has a deck built around 3 sides, but the third side is exposed or just hidden.
Aqua-Living-In Ground Hot Tub in The Virgin Islands

The Process

A general overview of what is needed for your in-ground installation. 

  1. Foundation – You will need a solid foundation that can support the weight of your filled spa. We only recommend a level concrete slab. 
  2. Drainage – You will need a floor drainage system in your concrete slab. This is to move any water away from your spa to avoid standing water that could cause damage. 
  3. Access point – You will need a trap door or some sort of access for service. Talk with your spa dealer about how many feet of space they recommend for recessed hot tubs. Keeping your spa as accessible as possible will make future maintenance and repairs easier, decreasing cost. 
  4. Top – Ask your spa dealer about potential cover options for your recessed spa. It is possible that a traditional hot tub cover will not work with a full-recessed spa. 

How Much Does an In Ground Hot Tub Cost?

In ground spas will have a higher cost. This is because they are harder to install and require more resources. Workers will have to be paid to do the excavation or specialized work (such as electrical or stonework). On top of having a higher initial cost due to labor and materials, they can also be harder to maintain due to it being harder to access them for maintenance. However, it’s not all bad news when it comes to in ground spas cost. It is generally easier to heat an in ground spa since the ground itself can act as insulation (or whatever you have your spa set in). This can make the heating costs cheaper. The cost will largely depend on the particular setup you choose to go with for your in ground spa. The more expensive the materials or the more elaborate the design, the more expensive it will be.

Why you should install your hot tub in ground?

You can truly create the backyard sanctuary you want. Your spa will be a refined integration in your backyard that will blend in perfectly with the look and feel you choose. You gain the ability to use many different types of materials to surround your spa, making it look and feel like it belongs. You get the therapy you need with the look you want. 

It can also be easier for many people to get in and out of the spa since you can just step down into it and begin your soaking session. However, if the hot tub is on you may not be able to see where you are placing your feet. You should always be very careful when entering and exiting your spa. It is wise to utilize all safety precautions available to you, such as handrails. 

Sink down into your own personal hot spring with an unobstructed view of the backyard you’ve worked so hard to create. You’ll feel like you are part of the landscape as you soak away the stress of the day.

In ground installation may not be right for you

If you plan on changing homes, or you suspect you’ll need to move your hot tub, in ground installation may not be the best choice for you, as the installation is a semi-permanent installation. You could move it, technically, but it would be a difficult endeavor, to say the least. 

If you’re on a budget, you may want to really think about installing your hot tub in-ground. It is a more expensive installation process with more cost variables. 

Service calls will possibly be more expensive due to the less-accessible nature of a recessed tub. 

In The End

An in-ground hot tub can be a stunning water feature for your outdoor space. Allowing you to get the benefits of hydrotherapy and create the custom look you want. While it can feel like a big decision to make, it can be the difference between a nice backyard, and the backyard of your dreams!

Here are some of our most popular hot tubs!