How to level ground for a Pool

Installing an above ground swimming pool is easier, and almost certainly cheaper, than you think!  We are going to take a step by step look at how to level the ground for a pool, how to do all of the correct preparation so that you have no problems installing an above ground swimming pool, and how to get the best final result.

There is little to beat the pleasure on a pool on a hot day, particularly for families.  If the expense, land sacrifice and permanence of installing an in-ground pool puts you off then considering an above ground pool will give you the same result, at less cost and you won’t even need a contractor.

When installing an above ground pool siting it onto level ground is necessary.  You do not want to have a shallow end, and it will affect the overall stability of the structure.  You want a nice, safe, stable, level pool – and that starts with a level base.

We are looking here at how to level ground for a pool prior to installation – you need to have chosen your pool already to know the size you require, that’s a whole other text, so we have presumed that you have already made your choice, and you are now looking at the installation only.  Make

Here we go:

Choose your site with care.

If the area is already level, less shifting of soil to do!  Don’t let that be your only consideration though, think about where you get the sun, how far away it can go without you being unable to hear the children (of course that may shift your decision in either direction – but we would suggest close enough to hear is great for safety!), you will have to fill, empty, and maintain the pool and that may affect your choices – you don’t want to be emptying it into your neighbours land.  You also don’t want to be close to any large trees – not only from debris falling into the pool, but because the roots go out a long way.

You will need to be sure that you have sufficient space for your model of choice, along with space around the pool.

So, chosen where you want it to go?

Check your permissions – the local building codes will almost certainly have guidance about how far from building lines you need it to be, or property boundaries.  So, pop down to the building codes office and see what those rules are in your municipality and if you need any permissions.  You don’t want to put it up, and then have to move it.

Right, you have decided on your pool, know where you want it, and you are allowed to put it there – let’s go!

Hammer a stake into where the centre of the pool will be, and tie onto it string that is 6 inches longer than the diameter of the pool you have chosen.  Then tie yourself a spray can of paint to the end of the string and mark it out!

This is your area to be levelled.

If you have chosen a grass area then remove all of the turf, you can do this manually using a shovel, or hire a sod cutter which will make light work of it.  Remove it from your site.  If you stack it upside down it makes great compost – or you can use it elsewhere to patch your lawn if it needs it.


Now you are looking for a level base.  By looking.  Can you see any obvious highs and lows?  Or fall away?  Do not fill in the spaces, or pile up onto the lower side of the slope, you need to dig out the higher areas to match the lower.  Initially doing this exercise by eye is sufficient, especially if you have larger discrepancies.

Check your levels.

You need a plank of 1 “ x 6” wood, as long as possible – ideally longer than the diameter of the pool, but if you have a larger pool something easier to manage will work – it needs to be a good length though.  Zip tie a 6 foot carpenters level to the top of the plank.  Start using this like a clocks hand across your site around the pin in the middle, and check using the level if you are out in any areas.

Mark any high spots, or areas that you need to take down – adjust the soil levels and repeat the exercise.

Do not be tempted to fill in any pits or low areas at this point, even though it feels so much easier, because they will compact and you will end up without a level pool.  Always, Always dig to the lowest level.

If you are moving 4 to 5 inches overall, on a slope that is less than 10 degrees, then generally that’s a manageable do it yourself job.  If it is a bigger job than that perhaps you want to consider getting in a contractor to do the heavy groundworks – or hiring a skid-steer loader.  As with all larger home projects it’s worth having a chat with your local rental equipment manager to see what they have to make the work easier.  Using the right tool for the job always gives the best result.

Once you have a level soil area rake the site.  You would risk a puncture to your liner if you have any sharp stones left.  Use a heavy duty rake not a sprung tine one – and don’t rake too hard, you aren’t looking to dig with it – it will unlevel all of your hard work!

Tamp down the soil.  If you wet the soil first then you will get a better result so run the sprinkler for a while if you are doing this in dry weather.  You can hire a roller from the local rental equipment store, generally they are a water filled drum which rotates and you push it using handles.

Spread your sand;

Make sure you have bought masonry sand – other sand will not be as even and may contain debris.

Most pools call for a sand base, you’ve read your instructions of course, so if yours does then add the sand to the recommended depth, usually around 1 to 2” deep, and tamp that down once more – again, we are looking for flat and level.

You will reap benefits from treating the area with fungicide and herbicide before installing the pool on the base you have prepared.  Leave at least two weeks after treatment before erecting the pool.

When you consider how to level ground to install an above ground pool then the best advice is carefully this is the most vital part of the installation process.  You need to level the ground to install a pool for safety as well as to make the pool useable.  The work is not difficult, but it is labour intensive.  It is an easy job though to level ground for a pool as long as  you are prepared to put in the time – hiring the right equipment will help.







Author: Kyle Baxter

Kyle Baxter is married with one young son. A very short career in investigative journalism, and a particularly unfortunate experience over the purchase of a major household appliance that took many months to resolve when he could ill-afford the costs led Kyle to his current position as a consumer champion. When not seeking out guidance on the best-on-the-market Kyle enjoys watching baseball and tries to get away from the house long enough to do some off-road cycling.

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