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    How to Build a Pool: What to do with a Sloped Backyard

    March 6, 2019


    When it comes to inground pool installation, some backyards pose a challenge with their topography. Not everyone has a nice smooth and flat 1000 sq. ft. area to place a pool.

    In most cases, some simple grading with a Bobcat is all that's needed, but for those who have a genuine hill or a steep and sloped backyard, more engineering or at least careful planning, is needed.

    Here's some ideas that inventive people have come up with to place pools in hilly backyards that some may think is an impossible pool location. If you have a sloped backyard, and want to build your own inground pool, read on...

    A concrete and stone retaining wall does the job for this homeowner. Topped with boxwood and perennial bloomers, which helps drain around the pool, the rear fence is almost completely hidden.


    Here's another inventive way to use a raised wall, at the edge of the pool. Large walls are great for smaller lots, or tight urban spaces. Planter boxes built into terrace levels soften the hard lines, and help channel drainage away from the pool.


    When you've got a hill this steep, you can make some spectacular water features. Terraced with 3 levels of cascading water provided by a booster pump, this pool holds the hillside and drains well around the pool. Juniper makes a good low maintenance ground cover.


    With a sloping backyard, you can build a slide, a spa or both, into the hillside! A grotto style spa and stone age slide combines with the tropical plants to give this pool a prehistoric feel.


    Now, here's a pool that's really built into a hillside. Poured concrete walls, the steps adding strength and solid footing, blends right in with the walls of the house.


    When the backyard slopes away from the house, it's a perfect situation for an Infinity pool design, with catch basin below. Or, the pool wall on the far side can be glass. That's assuming that there's something to look at. Without a view, it can be built without a spillover edge, but with the entire far wall being raised.


    Here's a nice vinyl pool kit, installed with a 4 ft retaining wall that makes a nice cozy area, providing privacy while leveling out the land. These type of stack blocks are a popular and affordable alternative to most of these other pictures.


    Raised spa, raised seating area, waterfall, and loads of landscaping and lighting. The stone work and pool deck of this pool are pretty extravagant, but if you have the means, by all means...


    Raised wall takes care of a small grade change, and allows for the addition of a spa and water falls on this pool. Large boulders and small volcanic rocks help to capture water in the event of heavy rains.


    A popular method for pool cost reduction or for hilly backyards is to build the pool partially buried. This works well for both types of hilly backyards, those that slope down and those that slope upwards. In this case, it was neither, the yard slopes up to the side of the lot.

    building pools on hilly backyards

    In order to maintain a natural grade for storm water run-off management, another version of the partial buried pool can be useful. This pool has a reverse raised wall, which also works well for both up and down backyard slopes, and the wall also serves to help keep the pool cleaner.

    constructing a pool on hilly locations

    To build a pool into a hill, some engineering needs to be done, to have all of the calculations performed, so that the design of the wall is strong enough to hold back the earth. Most importantly, pools must be built on solid earth, and never built on top of fill dirt, next to a hill.

    As mentioned several times, the drainage of the hill is another carefully planned piece. Depending on wall height, the county or city inspectors may require copies of the engineering plan, and maybe also a grading plan for the entire disturbance area.

    Our DIY inground pool kits work great for sloped backyards. Raised walls can be easily built to cantilever over the edge of our pool walls, to expand your usable space. Just like the excavation for our inground pool kits, terraced levels are simply overdug, a wall is erected, with kickers or braces extending into the hill, and the walls are backfilled on their backsides.

    Walls can be masonry, poured concrete, or stacked stone or block. Materials and wall height will depend on the engineering calculations, which considers soil types, water table and the volume of earth behind the wall. In most cases, it's easier and cheaper to build two smaller retaining walls, than to build one taller wall.

    If you have questions about putting an inground pool kit in your steep or sloped backyard, give us a call, we can sketch out some rough ideas, and make some estimates of cost for your particular situation. Pool experts are standing by at 800-983-7665!

    Larry Weinberg
    SPP Pool Expert

    Blog Author
    SPP Pool Expert