How to Prepare Ground for an Above Ground Pool?

Summertime beckons with the allure of refreshing splashes, and what better way to indulge than in your very own above ground pool? Above ground pools, unlike their in-ground counterparts, offer a blend of affordability, ease of installation, and the same aquatic fun. However, ensuring that the ground beneath is prepared aptly is crucial. Not only does this step safeguard the pool liner against potential damage, but it also guarantees the longevity of your pool.

Diving into this guide, you’ll be equipped with a step-by-step breakdown on how to prepare ground for an above ground pool, some pitfalls to steer clear of, and useful tips for a seamless setup.


Step 1: Zeroing In on the Perfect Spot

Location, location, location! The mantra holds as true for real estate as it does for setting up an above ground pool.

The objective is simple: identify a patch of land that is as level as possible, devoid of rocky intrusions, roots, and other potential nuisances. A vital pointer here is ensuring good drainage. Water stagnation around the pool can not only be a messy affair but can also lead to foundational issues in the longer run.

If your chosen haven is slightly uneven, fret not. Leveling is a hands-on task but quite manageable. Begin by eliminating the raised areas, shifting this soil to the depressions. Employing a tamper can be handy to compact the soil, making certain it’s flat and unwavering.

Step 2: Declaring War on Vegetation

Nature is beautiful, just not beneath your pool! Prior to setting up, it’s imperative to clear out any greenery from your designated pool area. This encompasses everything – from the stubborn grass, invasive weeds, to the occasional shrub.

You might wonder, why the emphasis on vegetation removal? Here’s the deal: any plant matter left behind can pave the way for unevenness. More crucially, as they decompose, they might inflict harm upon the pool liner. Engage in manual removal for best results. However, for larger swathes of green, relying on a lawnmower or a weed trimmer can be a faster, efficient alternative.

Step 3: Mapping Your Pool’s Territory

With a clear, level patch of land at your disposal, the next step is to outline the pool’s territory. Visual representation goes a long way in eliminating any guesswork during the installation phase.

To mark the location, you could utilize spray paint or resort to the old-school method of planting stakes in the ground. While doing so, two main areas need demarcation: the very center of the pool and its encompassing boundary or perimeter.

Drawing the blueprint not only aids in visualizing how the pool will fit into your yard but also provides a guideline for subsequent steps like excavation and base material addition.

Step 4: Carving Out Your Pool Area – The Excavation Process

Excavation can be a somewhat intimidating word, especially for those who are new to the world of DIY projects. However, when it comes to preparing ground for an above ground pool, it is a crucial step that ensures your pool sits snugly and safely.

  • For Round Pools: If you’ve opted for the classic round pool, you’ll be looking to excavate a circular patch of your yard. While doing so, it’s imperative to maintain an even depth across the circle to ensure a uniform base for the pool.
  • For Oval Pools: An oval pool requires a similar approach but with a slightly elongated excavation. The principle remains the same – ensuring consistency in depth across the entire excavated area.

The depth of the excavation largely hinges on the size and model of your pool. Generally, you’ll be looking to dig just enough to accommodate the base material and ensure that the pool sits level with its surroundings.

Step 5: Laying the Foundation with Base Material

Once you’ve shaped out the designated area for your pool, it’s time to introduce the base material. Think of this as laying the foundation for a building. It provides stability, protection, and ensures longevity.

  • Sand: A favored choice for many, sand acts as a cushioning layer, protecting the pool liner from any sharp or hard objects beneath. When using sand, ensure that it’s spread evenly across the excavated area, creating a soft, smooth bed for your pool.
  • Crushed Gravel or Pea Gravel: Some prefer the consistency and drainage properties of gravel. These small stones offer a firm yet flexible base, allowing for good water drainage and added protection against any below-ground nuisances.

The amount of base material required will vary depending on the pool’s size. Smaller pools might be well served with a 2-inch layer, whereas larger setups could necessitate up to 4 inches of base material.

Step 6: Perfecting the Lay of the Land – Leveling the Base Material

With your base material in place, the next task on the agenda is leveling. Using a landscape rake can be immensely beneficial here, allowing you to spread the material uniformly.

Once spread, take a step back and assess. Look for any inconsistencies or noticeable slopes. The goal is to achieve a completely flat surface, ensuring your pool doesn’t face undue pressure on any particular side.

Step 7: Setting It in Stone – Compacting the Base Material

An often-overlooked step, compacting the base material is paramount. A compact base offers solidity, ensuring your pool remains stable and doesn’t sink or shift with time.

You can use a tamper for smaller areas. However, for larger pools, renting a plate compactor might be more time-efficient. Go over the entire area methodically, ensuring every inch is compacted uniformly.

Step 8: Guarding Against Nature’s Intruders – Installing a Weed Barrier

Now, with a solid base in place, it’s time for a protective shield. Installing a weed barrier or a geo-textile fabric can thwart any potential weed growth beneath the pool. The last thing you want after all this effort is for intrusive roots or weeds to damage your pool liner.

Lay out the barrier over your compacted base material, cutting and securing it in place. Ensure there are no creases or folds, as these can be potential weak points in the future.

Step 9: The Grand Finale – Installing the Pool

The ground is prepared, the stage is set, and now it’s time for the star of the show – your above ground pool! As you embark on this final step, closely follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Each pool model might have its nuances, and adhering to specific instructions ensures safety and durability.

The journey of preparing your ground for an above ground pool is a blend of diligence, precision, and a sprinkle of elbow grease. Yet, with each step meticulously followed, you pave the way for a summer filled with laughter, splashes, and cherished memories. So, here’s to a job well done and many sunny days by the poolside!