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    How to Build a Pool: Trees Near the Pool

    March 25, 2013


    I have been building swimming pools in New England for over 30 years. This is one of my experiences with trees around inground swimming pools, and why I advise people who are building their own inground pools, to remove the trees.

    I had finished a 12 x 24 oval inground pool that went from 3 ½ feet deep to 5 ft deep in an area that had to be built up on one end almost 2 ft  and a small retaining wall had to be built down on one side and end of the pool.  The customers backyard was very small so only a 3 ft pool deck could fit around the pool.

    After we were finished with the installation the homeowners started their landscaping around the pool. On the 24 ft side, abutting their side line of the yard there was a small 10 ft area (from the waters edge ). Their plan was to plant 3 very small trees in a small area, next to the concrete pool deck.

    I told them "that's not a good idea" and they should think about something else in that area. They weren’t going to listen and the 3 trees were planted. This customer became one of my regulars; every year we would open the pool, balance the water and then close the pool after the pool season.

    After about 15 years, they started to see what look like underground mole tunnels in a few spots, under the pool liner. The floor was raised up about 2 or 3” in these areas. We checked it out and they were solid - and not earth being pushed up. I told them there was nothing that could be done to get the  problem fixed so it would have to be left that way.  They were good with that but hoped that the situation would not get any worse. This was not the case.

    Over the next few years there was more and more of these areas throughout the pool bottom. It looked like the train tracks at Grand Central Station. The pool liner was still in surprisingly good shape and did not need to be changed.  The bottom at this point had to be repaired, they hadn’t been able to use their automatic cleaner for years, they were forced to clean the pool manually.

    Well, this was not just a normal quick liner change, and at this point they had to "bite the bullet" and get it taken care of if they wanted to use their pool. We drained the pool, removed the liner and started in on this pretty extensive project. The complete bottom was covered with large root systems everywhere, all of these had to be cut out and removed. Nearly the entire vermiculite bottom had to be busted out and removed.

    A tree removal company was called in to remove the 3 trees which were no longer these 3 small little trees that looked great by the side of the pool, they were now 12 ft tall. Once that was done the pool bottom had to be re shaped. A new vermiculite bottom was installed and a new pool liner installed. Pool water had to be trucked in as their town didn’t allow filling the pool from the garden hose. So, as you can see - there was a lot of expense and trouble that should have never happened.

    Let’s total up what the unwillingness to listen to me cost these pool owners.

    Pool liner with installation $2,500.00

    Remove and dispose of roots and vermiculite  $850.00

    Re-shape pool bottom and re-vermiculite pool floor $2,000.00

    Tree removal $1,250.00

    Tanking in pool water $650.00

    Total of complete project $7,250.00

    Listening to my advice in the first place... “priceless” :-)

    tree-with-deep-roots - ClkerThis truly is not a rare occasion, I have had tree roots undermine and bust up concrete pool decks,  I have also seen roots come right through the pool liner. Plus, think about all the leaves and anything else that falls from the trees into the pool water.  Also, when trees get larger and overhang the pool it can cause chemical problems also.  What I mean by that is when it rains everything that’s on the tree branches or on the leaves is now in your water, and this can create issues for your pool chemistry.

    Most trees roots spread out as far as their branches, and some types of thirsty trees will extend well beyond that. I swear that some trees can "smell" the water in the pool, and make a beeline for it, stretching it's branches out until it pokes a hole in the liner, and busts up the floor or walls of your pool. Do yourself a favor, find some nice plants or bushes to put around your pool and leave the trees to the other parts of your yard.  

    Larry Weinberg
    SPP Pool Expert

    Blog Author
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