When it comes to setting up a pool for the first time, it’s a good idea that you do your homework. So many things can go wrong in the beginning stages of setting up the pool and these things can have a dramatic impact on how the pool is used and how long it will last. And one of the things that you should pay particularly close attention to doing is setting up the pool on level ground.
Many people decide that the art of leveling their ground for their new pool is too much work, so they decide to hire a contractor to do it. This entails the contractor having to bring with them labor and heavy equipment—and of course, that inflates the end price of the pool dramatically. A better option would be for you to level the ground the pool is one yourself. You’ll save yourself a ton of money in the end.
Yes, we can almost hear the huffing and puffing from people who don’t think that they’re capable of leveling the ground for their pool themselves. We understand that it might seem like an impossible task, but trust us, it’s really not. That’s precisely what we’re going to do in this guide. We’re going to show everyone that they can set up the pool themselves.
However, with that said, we do understand that some people will want or need to have a professional pool installer level the ground for their pool. Maybe their ground is especially rough, maybe they’re physically unable to do the work, and maybe they don’t have the time or don’t want to do it. If that’s the case, then that’s fine. You probably don’t need to read this article. For everyone else who is sticking with us, let’s find out how to level ground for a pool, shall we?
Why You Need Level Ground For Your Above Ground Pool
Even though it might seem ridiculous that some people would wonder why they should take the time to properly level the ground for their pool, it is a question that we’ve been asked. We guess it’s probably due to the fact that some people are trying to cut corners so they can get their pool up more quickly, but to those people, we have to say that they should take the time to level the ground properly. And we’re going to discuss some of the reasons why level ground for a pool is necessary.
An Uneven Pool Is Structurally Unsound
One of the biggest reasons for the pool to be perfectly level is that an uneven pool places stress on the pool’s walls and pool liner. They’re just not designed for this uneven distribution of water and as a result, they’re eventually going to twist or buckle. They may even break. And if there are swimmers in that pool when that happens, then it can put them at risk of injury.
An Uneven Water Level Causes Problems
Of course, when the ground is uneven, the water level is going to be uneven, and this can create a deep end and a shallow end. This can make the pool more dangerous to children and can cause significant problems for skimmers and the pool’s pump.
The Pool Will Just Look Very Bad
And the last reason for making sure that the pool is level is because if it isn’t, then it’s going to look bad. It’s going to look like some DIY project and not like the professional pool that it should look like. That’s why we think every person setting up a pool should make sure to take the time and do it right.
How To Level Ground For A Pool
Okay, we’re going to go through the process of leveling the ground on a step-by-step basis, so it’s easy for everyone to follow. We advise everyone reading this to carefully consider and implement each step before they move on to the next one to ensure that they’re getting the area for their pool set up properly.
Gather The Tools That You Need
The first thing that you’re going to do is to gather the materials that you’re going to need. Although some people might opt to rent a backhoe to do the initial clearing and leveling of the ground, that isn’t necessary if you’re willing to put in some work. Below are some of the tools that you’re going to need for leveling the ground.
Materials & Tools Required:
- Bubble Level (At Least 2-Feet Long)
- 2-Inch By 4-Inch By 8-Foot Board
- Drills & Bits
- Tent Stake
- Lawn Roller
- Truckload Of Sand (Make Sure To Pick A Location First)
- Sod Cutter Or Rototiller
- Water Hose
Pick The Right Location
Now that you have assembled your tools, it’s time to find the right location for your pool. This is an extremely important part of the process and will determine how much work you end up doing in the end. If you pick an area that’s relatively flat, then the work will go faster than if the area is uneven and has a lot of lumps and bumps.
Before you can consider anything, you’re going to have to have the utility companies come out and mark where their underground lines lie. In most U.S states, this is not only prudent but is also the law as well. If you don’t have the utility companies mark the areas where their lines lie, and you end up digging into them, then you can not only endanger yourself, but you will be liable for the damage. So do yourself a favor and make sure sewer lines, power lines, water lines, and underground cables are adequately marked.
Our recommendation is to find the flattest area of the yard, as that will lead to less shoveling. It’s also a good idea to consider what’s directly above the area you’re going to place your pool. If there are some tree branches that provide shade, that’s okay, but keep in mind those trees will drop leaves into your pool. This will make it harder to keep the pool in good condition. Needless to say, it should also be an area where no power lines, water lines, sewer lines, or other underground cables lie.
Clear The Site Of The Pool
The next step is to clear the site for the pool. This means removing rocks, grass, and any other debris that might exist on the spot. And when we say debris, we mean anything that could damage or puncture the liner.
Let’s begin with the grass. You can use a sod cutter, if you wish, to cut and relocate the sod to another area of the yard, or you could rent or buy a rototiller for the job. After the grass has been removed, make sure that any stones or roots are removed as well. The point is to remove anything that can damage your pool’s liner.
Although removing grass might seem like an easy endeavor, it’s can be tougher than you think. That’s why some people use a tarp and tent stakes to cover the grass. This starves the grass of water and sunlight, and in a few weeks it ends up killing the grass. This makes it much easier to remove.
Make A Leveling Device & Use It
Once the grass, rocks, roots, and debris are removed from the area where the pool is going to be located, it’s time to make yourself a leveling device. Leveling the ground by just looking at it is not recommended at all. If you’re off by even so much of an inch, it can really wreck the pool installation, so it’s important to use a leveling device.
The way you can make a leveling device is to secure a 2-Inch By 4-Inch By 8-Foot Board and a bubble level that’s at least 2-feet long. Make sure that the board is completely straight and lay it where you’re going to put your pool. Now use a level on that board and see if it’s even. If it’s not, then you’re going to have to level out the area.
It should be said, that if you don’t have access to a board large enough for your pool, then you can make do with stakes and string. You could stretch it out from the center—just be sure to pull it tight. You can then use your level to sight along the string.
Fix Your Leveling Problems
Okay, now that you’ve surveyed the land and have found the problem areas, then it’s time to get to work to fix them. Don’t be afraid to dig into the ground to remove any bumps that might exist so that you can create a stable base. As a general rule of thumb, you will probably need to dig at least two inches into the ground because that’s going to be topped off with sand. But the sand can only be added once the ground is nice and flat.
Time To Lay Down The Sand
When the ground is leveled, it’s time for the sand. The quickest way to get the sand that you’re going to need is to order a truckload of it from a garden center or landscaping supply company. Once you’ve received the sand you’ll want to wheelbarrow to the area where it’s needed and that’s where the pool is going to be. You’re going to need enough sand to do at least a 2-inch base layer to serve as the foundation for the pool.
Once you have the sand in the area where the pool is going to be installed, spread it out using a rake. Make sure that it’s perfectly even, using the rake to even it out. Once it’s level, use your water hose and hose down the sand. Now, all that’s left to do is to leave it to dry overnight. It will flatten during the night and then you can go back the following day.
Compact The Sand Down
Okay, so far so good. Now it’s time to flatten down the sand until it’s a compacted and very solid base for your pool. You can do this by renting a lawn roller at your local garden center and going over the entire base of sand.
Once you’ve compacted down the sand, you’re going to once again use your level to make sure that it’s still even. If it’s not still level, then you’re going to have to use your shovel to fix things and then go over it again with the lawn roller once it’s been fixed. This is not the part of the process that you’re going to want to skimp on. If you don’t get this right, then you’re going to have problems later on.
Put Down Your Pool Pad
Once the sand is compacted and level, it’s time to put down the pool pad. The base layer helps to not only better insulate the pool’s liner from heat loss but also helps to protect it from rocks or roots that try to work their way to the surface. Once you have your pool pad spread out and even, it’s time to move to put up your pool.
Set Up Your Pool
Make sure that you read and follow all of the instructions for your pool. Remember, properly setting your pool up, in the beginning, can save you a lot of time, frustration, and even money, later on, so make sure to take the time to set it up correctly. Once you do, you and your family will be able to get years of use out of the pool.