Laying The Groundwork For Your New Above-Ground Pool

Installing an above-ground pool is a great way to have the fun of a traditional pool while saving a lot of money. It's also a good choice for those who don't want a permanent hole in their yard. But before rushing out to purchase and set up your new above-ground pool, it's important to lay the right foundation for it. Here are the 4 steps to creating the right space for you to enjoy splashing around. 

  • Mark the Spot. The first step, of course, is to choose a spot and mark where you will work. The location you choose will need to be on the most stable ground possible. Avoid sandy or silted soil and especially avoid placing it within several meters of any slope or fence. Try not to place it underneath trees and keep it within easy view from the house if you have kids. Mark off the spot by spray-painting or staking the whole round or oval shape of the pool. Above-ground pools can be bigger than they seem, so take your time finding the right pool and location. 
  • Level it. There are a few easy ways to ensure the space is completely level. One of the simplest is to plant four stakes in the ground equally around your pool's location. Tie string to the same spot on each of them and string it across the circle. Now you can begin to see where your ground is too high or too low in comparison with the rest of the space. It's best to work with a tape measure and a few different sets of eyes to ensure you get the best result. 
  • Provide for runoff. While you need the ground underneath your pool to be as level as possible, you also don't want unnecessary water to collect around the edges -- or even worse, to run back toward the pool. You can provide proper drainage in one of several ways depending on the area around the pool. A French drain can be installed around the pool to allow water to seep into the drain and be channeled to a safe location. Or you could build the pool's base circle a little higher than the surrounding ground so that water runs downhill away from the pool. 
  • Build a base. Most pool owners cover their topsoil base with a layer of sand to provide a solid and safe footing for the pool. The sand should cover the circle to a depth of 2 or 3 inches at least and be packed down by wetting it and tamping it down. Level the wet sand by using a long 2x4 board with a carpenter's level on top. Move the board around until all areas of the sand are within an inch height difference. 

Now you're ready for the fun part! Picking out your pool and filling it is the culmination of this backyard project and the beginning of a beautiful friendship -- that between your family and their new swimming pool.