Preparing for an Above Ground Pool: 7 Things to Keep in Mind

Preparing the ground for an above-ground swimming pool is an important part of pool installation. Without a solid, level surface, an above-ground pool will not have the support it needs to function properly. If you’re unsure how to prepare the ground for an above-ground pool, you have come to the right place. Today, we’ll cover the details on how to prepare the ground for your new above-ground swimming pool.

1. Find a Location for Your Above-Ground Pool

Before you begin preparing the soil for your above-ground pool, you’ll need to find the best location to install it. Ideally, an above-ground pool should be installed in a sunny location. It is recommended to install an above-ground pool 8 to 10 feet away from trees. Additionally, avoid placing the pool in an area that receives high wind, as wind will increase evaporation.

When choosing an area for your pool, consider finding the most level spot on your property. While you may still need to dig out a flat surface, finding a relatively level area on your property will save you both the time and the effort when preparing the ground for your pool.

To avoid damage to your house’s electrical wiring and siding, it is a national standard that above-ground pools must be placed 10 feet away from houses. Before you begin preparing the ground for your pool, check with local building codes, as local rules may require pools to be placed even farther away from the house.

Finally, when considering the best place for your pool, think about its convenience. The closer the pool is to your home, the more likely you are to use it. Additionally, above-ground pools should be visible from the house at multiple locations to ensure pool safety.

2. Measure the Area for Your Pool

Once you have selected an ideal location for your swimming pool, the next step is measuring the area for the pool. By marking the area for your pool, you will know exactly where to prepare the soil.

Before you begin marking the area for your pool, you will first need to know your pool’s dimensions. Next, begin marking the perimeter of the pool area. To do this, place a metal stake in the center of where the pool will sit. From here, tie a string to the stake, and measure out the distance to the swimming pool’s edge. Add on six inches to this distance.

Using the other end of the string, tie the string to a can of spray paint. Make sure the can is reaching the proper distance from the pool’s center. Finally, begin spraying a borderline while walking the perimeter of the pool.

3. Remove the Sod

After you’ve marked the perimeter of the pool, the next step is removing the sod. In addition to removing all vegetation from the pool’s location, it’s important to clear out all rocks or gravel on the ground. Because sharp rocks can damage the pool’s liner, all objects should be removed from the pool’s site.

4. Create a Level Surface

The next step to preparing the ground for an above-ground pool is creating a flat, level surface. Starting from the lowest point of the ground, measure how much soil needs dug for the surface to be flat. An easy way to determine if the location is level is by placing a leveling device on top of a wooden board set on the ground. 

If you live on a slope, you may need to install a retaining wall to keep the soil in place. Additionally, you may consider incorporating the slope with your pool plans by creating a deep end in your pool. However, it is still important that the location is relatively flat to ensure the pool operates and functions properly.

Because you will be adding sand as the pool’s base, it is recommended to dig two inches down into the soil. Make sure all bumps and holes are removed from the ground’s surface before continuing on to the next step.

5. Pour Sand

To protect the pool’s vinyl liner from sharp objects in the ground, it is recommended to use sand as a base material for your above-ground pool. In addition to protecting the swimming pool from tearing, sand acts as cushioning for the pool’s floor, making it more comfortable to walk across. 

The standard depth of sand for above-ground pools is two inches. Make sure the sand is spread out evenly so that the pool sits on a level surface. Gently spray it with water, and leave it overnight to dry.

Once the sand is dry, you’ll need to make it compacted. A lawn roller works well for leveling out the sand. Use a leveling device to ensure the surface remains level after packing down the sand.

6. Lay a Base Layer for Your Above-Ground Pool

The next step is laying a base layer for your above-ground pool. Although the sand acts as a base for your swimming pool, you may still want to lay a pool pad underneath the pool. A base layer, typically made of felt material, will provide further protection and cushioning for the pool’s vinyl liner.

In addition to protecting the liner from punctures, a pool pad provides insulation to prevent heat loss. An alternative to using a pool pad is simply placing a tarp on the ground. Although a tarp is not specifically designed for pools, it works well for protecting the pool from rips and tears.

7. Install the Above-Ground Pool

Once the ground has been properly prepared, the final step is installing the above-ground swimming pool. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, carefully install the pool in the location you prepared.

Depending on the size of your pool, you may consider constructing a deep end for your above-ground pool. If you plan on making a deep end, you will need to dig out a section for the center of the pool. Make sure the pool’s deep end has a gradual slope, as steep slopes can be dangerous as well as difficult to maintain.

When creating a deep end for an above-ground pool, you will need to install an expandable liner. By adding expandable liners, the pool’s center depth will increase by one foot. Once expandable liners are added, installing the pool with a deep end is a fairly easy process. 

Jed Arnold

Jed spent every year from the ages of 15 - 22 as a Lifeguard (Red Cross) and ages of 17 - 22 as a Certified Pool Operator (CPO). Between working for over a dozen facilities and owning a pool, he carries over a decade of pool experience.

Recent Posts