"OK! I've Built my Own Pool - Now What?"
After you build an inground vinyl pool and fill it with water, you can't believe how beautifully blue the pool water is ~ and how torn up the rest of the backyard is. As Larry puts it - "It looks like a bomb went off in the backyard!".
It may take some time to put the yard back in order, especially doing it yourself. Keep at it, and by the next spring, it will be a completely different backyard!
BACKFILLING THE POOL - The first stage of backyard repair after pool construction begins with backfilling around the pool, tamping it in layers, until you reach the proper height of earth all around the pool. If a concrete deck is to be installed, the top 4" is usually gravel, under the pool deck.
GRADING REPAIR - There may be leftover dirt, have a plan for extra dirt ahead of time, and when backfilling is done, you can spread around the extra dirt to fill in wheel ruts, puddle areas, and spilled gravel or sand. Use the dirt to grade the land around the pool with slight slopes and swales, to direct storm run-off water around the pool. If you still have leftover dirt, arrange for a hauling company to take away, or bring it around the front of the house, and put a sign on it "Free Fill Dirt!"
POOL FENCE REPAIR - Now that all of the heavy equipment is gone, and there is water in the pool, you can remove the temporary fencing and place your permanent fence around the pool. A good time to decide if you want to replace one side with a different style or type of fence, or make any last minute changes to the fence layout, and gate locations. Check your local regulations on pool fence requirements before you begin, so you can pass your final pool inspection.
TIP: Best time of year for new grass growth is March-June and September-November, depending on where you live.
GRASS REPAIR - Sod is the fastest solution for grass repair. It does like a good base of rich topsoil, on level ground. If your once rich topsoil now looks gray and lifeless, spread on some soil amendments before laying sod, and keep it moist by watering twice per day for a few weeks. If the area to be repaired has slow drainage and good sun, you can go with grass seed and org-gro, or enriched topsoil, and grow your own grass in 4-6 weeks.
POOL DECK INSTALLATION - Most folks wait a month or so to install the pool deck, to allow the soils around the pool to fully settle, but if you do not want to wait that long, be sure to compact the backfill in stages, and water it heavily for several days to help it compact. If your backfill soil has low compaction, it would be wise to stratify it with alternating layers of gravel. Once your pool deck is installed, you can really begin the backyard landscaping repair.
LANDSCAPING REPAIR - In some cases, many cases - the landscape of the backyard becomes a blank canvas, with several trees and bushes removed for pool construction. For many folks, a blank canvas around the pool is preferred - less mess to deal with! For those of you with a green thumb, this is an opportunity to add new plants, ground covers and small trees. [insetleft title="tip!"]The best plants and trees around a pool are those that do not shed a lot of litter, or grow too large.[/insetleft]
Ornamental and dwarf species may be a good choice. Deep roots could also be a problem with some trees. It's best to keep all trees a safe distance from the pool, to prevent long roots from growing up against the walls or under the pool floor.
Perennial gardens are a favorite landscaping choice of mine, but they require planning to select plants suitable for your zone, so that you always have something blooming, from spring until fall.
Many DIY pool builders integrate planter boxes on the edge of the pool, to add colorful plants at the water's edge. Speak to your local garden center to make a careful choice of plants that are low maintenance and won't grow too large. Make sure that plant areas near the pool have no possibility of washing into the pool during heavy rains, which can load up the pool with phosphates and nitrates.
TIP: Instead of mulch, use lava rock or ground covers around the pool.[/insetleft]
Privacy can be increased with evergreens such as holly, cypress or boxwood. They can also be used as a wind block around the pool, reducing heat loss from winds, or used to hide a stark wall or fence.
Again, it will take some time to put the backyard in order again, plants grow slowly. When planning your new backyard landscaping, think long term and in a few years, you'll have a beautiful pool and backyard!
At SPP, our DIY pool builder customers get VIP treatment, with unlimited inground pool construction support from myself and any of the other Pool Experts. As we like to say, we are there for you, from Layout to Landscaping.
SPP Pool Expert