Leveling and preparing the ground for your above ground pool is not an easy task. My opinion is ground prep is about half the job of the pool building project. Even the most experienced shovelers and sod busters will have a hard time removing the grass and leveling for an above ground pool. This is why I now have two machines to help me with the ground prep for the installation. When I was younger and stronger, we used to build these pools with just shovels and rakes. Now that I’m older and smarter, I use machines.
Planning on installing yourself?
Many above ground pool buyers decide to install it themselves. The main reason for this is to save money or keep the project cost down. Another popular reason is that they are do-it-yourselfers and take pride in being able to do the job on their own. I usually fall into both categories and understand fully the benefits of both reasons. Here then from one DIY guy to the other, are some tips on the excavation process of installing your above ground swimming pool.
Clear a bigger area
Preparing a pool site is labor intensive so DIYers often times will try to level as small an area as they can for the size pool they purchased. This can result in even more work because if you didn’t initially level enough earth for your pool, then you’ll have to dig more later when the track goes down and that’s more of a pain. Clear and level at least one foot more than the size of your above ground all the way around. Example: 24’round pool = 26′ cleared circle.
Sharpen your shovels
Trying to remove sod and level earth using a shovel without a sharp edge is a lot like cutting a cheap steak with a butter knife. You can do it but it’ll take longer to eat your dinner. Using a grinder or file to put an edge on your shovel will save you time and maybe a trip to the chiropractor. Also, I much prefer a square head shovel.
Rent a sod cutter
I know you’re probably trying to save money but if you have really good grass at the install site or if you’re 45 minutes into the dig and have only a couple of feet of grass dug up, rent a cutter. It’ll be the best money you’ve ever spent. Rental on a sod cutter is about $100.00 but you’ll save a lot on time, swear words, project moral, and grieve beers later.
Have some sand delivered
As a professional pool installer, I don’t get sand very often but that’s because I have the proper machines and know how to make a nice smooth pool bottom without it. Orlando and surrounding areas are made up of mostly sand, so adding more to a pool bottom will often make it too soft and that’s why I don’t use it much.
When installing the pool yourself though, it may be a good idea as extra sand can help you in the pool leveling process, cover pokey objects left in the earth, and aid in ground moisture control during the install. Depending on the conditions of your yard/pool site, using extra sand’s pros may outweigh its cons.
Get a liner guard
Above ground pool liner protection pads, sometimes called Gorilla pads, are kind of a lot of money for what you get, but they do a good job protecting the pool’s liner from anything sharp left in the earth bottom or any metal parts of the pool’s track or buttress structure. It’s a nice guarantee that if you left some sharp rocks or glass in the pool bottom, your liner won’t get a puncture.
Pool site preparation
If this part of the pool install job isn’t for you, consider having us come out and do the site clearing and leveling. We can come there with the equipment, remove the sod and level a big enough area to within an inch or two so you can then get started on building the actual swimming pool. The cost for this usually runs between $350.00 and $800.00 depending on the size of your pool, how off grade your yard is, and how far down you may want to sink the pool. This isn’t a cheap option for the do-it-yourselfer but is still hundreds less than a full install. It’s pretty common for us to do the leveling only as I get a lot of people asking for it. This is why I have it as an option on this site.