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    How To Prepare Your Site For a New Aboveground Pool

    August 8, 2019

    site planning for a new aboveground pool

    When it comes to installing your new aboveground pool the most important part is choosing the best spot in your yard for the pool, and then properly preparing it to support your pool.

    Choosing a Location for an Aboveground Pool

    When choosing your pool location, watch to see what area the sun hits best, for the longest part of the day. Try to choose an area that doesn't have overhanging trees or branches; even if they are small trees now they won't be that way forever. Having a bit of shade or privacy bushes around the pool is nice, but too many large trees and you'll spend a lot of time and effort cleaning them out. Look for the area in your yard that is the flattest area as that will require less excavating work on your part. Also, having convenient access to power and water is important, and for safety reasons, as well as aesthetics, place the pool in an area that is most visible from the house.

    Let's Review

    • Location of trees and bushes
    • Amount of sun on the water
    • Location of water and electricity
    • Visible from the house

    Now that you have chosen your spot for the pool it's time to get the area ready for your new pool. Plan the steps below to coordinate with the arrival of your new pool, and give yourself plenty of time to perform the new steps.

    Preparing a Spot for a New Aboveground Pool

    MEASURE THE AREA: Let's say your new pool is a 24 ft round pool and we will proceed under that assumption. Find the center of your new pool and tamp a stake or piece of re-bar into the ground. Put your tape measure on top of the stake, and measure out 13 ft - from the center point. I say 13 ft, to make the circle 26 ft - instead of 24 ft - to give us room to work around the outside.

    Mark the Area for Pool PlacementMARK THE AREA: In this extra foot around the pool you can put decorative stones, plants or mulch after the pool is built, to avoid grasses and weeds growing up against the pool wall. Using the measuring tape or a string like a compass, attached to your center stake, walk slowly around the perimeter and mark the area with lime or spray paint in the grass/soil, marking the outline of the pool, and the 12" perimeter space outside of the pool footprint.

    REMOVE THE TURF: Now we want to remove all the grass and loam inside the circle that you made. If you have the availability of using a bobcat or bucket loader; that would be the easiest way to remove it, but picks and shovels work fine too. You will end up with a big pile of dirty grass waste, that you can hopefully wheelbarrow to someplace close. It may be more cost effective to have a Excavation company or "Bob & his Bobcat" to come by to do the job, especially if you are planning to use one of our aboveground pools suitable for buried placement. "Bob" will usually be able to carry away the fill dirt.

    HAVE SAND DELIVERED: For the smoothest floor, and to protect the liner, you will need a load of sand for the floor of your new pool. If you hire "Bob", he may be able to deliver it, or have it delivered. You can order it too, from a sand and gravel vendor near your home, and some yards have online ordering. For our 24ft round pool, we'd order a yard of masonry grade sand. For other pool sizes, order enough sand to cover your pool diameter in 1" to 2" of sand. We don't want any small pebbles or pea gravel in the sand, so be sure that it's masonry sand or polymeric sand, just not 'construction sand'. For a delivery fee of $50 or so, they'll come deliver the sand to your driveway, or other convenient location. Place a tarp on the area for them to dump on, and use a wheelbarrow to take it back to the pool area. Stone dust, aka crush-n-run, also makes a fine pool base to cover the earth. This is not used as fill, the earth beneath the thin layer of sand, stone dust, vermiculite or concrete must be level before placement.

    CHECK LOCAL FENCING LAWS: Another thing to consider is in most areas of the country if your pool is not 4 ft tall you will need a pool safety fence around it. If the pool is partially buried, so that the wall is less than 48" from the ground, a safety fence will be required. Even when your pool is 48" high, there are conditions like a deck connected off the house that comes up to the pool - where a safety fence will be needed. Most people however, install their new aboveground pool on flat ground, after replacing about 1-2" of grass and soil with sand. For these folks, an A-frame step or ladder combo (with safety ladder), will allow access, yet help to keep the pool safe.

    Let's Review

    • Mark the pool perimeter
    • Remove grass and roots
    • Get sand delivered

    I can't overemphasize how important having a level pool is. An uneven pool will not only get you teased by everyone who notices it, but it also puts stress on the side that gets the extra weight. It also makes it harder to keep the precise level in the pool for the skimmer to work properly, and could result in winter pool damage.

    Level is Important

     using transit to level pool floorWhile digging out the grass, you should begin to do any leveling work that is required. Even though it may look level, it may not be. This step is very important, to ensure that your new aboveground pool won't be lopsided. A laser level or a transit is the easiest and most accurate way to accomplish this, but if you don't have that available, a couple of stakes and a ball of twine and a line level will do the trick just as well. Here's how to use string to check level.

    STAKES & STRINGS: Run the twine or string tightly between the stakes on either side of the perimeter, at ground level, but not touching the ground. Adjust the depth of the stakes until a carpenter's level, placed on the tight string, shows you that the string is level. You may find it easier to run 6 or 8 strings across, after you get the grass removed, or you can remove the stakes and reposition it as you work around the pool, leveling pizza slice segments, just under the string.

    getting the ground levelGETTING LEVEL GROUND: Another trick to ensure level, is to place the carpenter's level onto an 8ft length of 2x4, and move it in a concentric circle pattern. Keep one end on the pool center, as you check level in each place. It doesn't need to be perfect if you are adding a layer of masonry sand after leveling, but it should be as close as possible.

    PAVER PLACEMENT: During installation of your new aboveground pool, you will also level blocks underneath each upright, which is another time when a transit comes in handy, but if you can't borrow or rent one, use 2x4's, stakes, string and a long level.

    BRING IN THE SAND: When the digging and leveling of the area is complete, have your sand brought into the center of the pool area and leave it in a pile, do not spread it out at this point, you will find it much easier to install the pool wall on a hard bottom rather than in the sand. Which brings me to another point.

    leveling the paversGETTING LEVEL PAVERS: The level of the blocks and the bottom rail must be very precise, so that the wall has firm ground to sit on. Before you begin to install the pool wall into the bottom track, make sure the track or bottom rail is level all the wall around and from side to side - and that it is fully sitting flush on the ground and not suspended above the ground. Use stakes and strings or a laser level, to be sure that all pavers are at the same height, relative to each other.

    Let's Review

    • Level is important
    • Laser levels or Transits are best
    • Don't spread out the sand until after the walls is installed

    After your pool is complete then you can fill around the outside area, the extra foot we excavated - with something that won't need much maintenance. A good choice is putting down some black landscape fabric around the pool topped with small stones or pine bark mulch. Also nice would be small boxwood, yew, or other easily trimmed evergreen bushes.

    POOL FLOOR OPTIONS: There are a few options for your pool floor. Sand is most cost effective, but you can easily develop foot marks or heel divots, or erosion of the sand, among other problems. You can chemically harden the sand, to form a more firm bottom. Polymeric sand is sand that has additives already mixed-in, and when water is added, it binds the sand grains together. Another option is to skip the sand altogether and install a soft yet firm Vermiculite pool floor. You can also use a pool liner floor pad over top of the sand bottom, which is what many folks end up doing.

    Now it's time to start building your new aboveground pool. If you have any questions about this process, give us at call at 800-983-POOL.  

    Larry Weinberg
    SPP Pool Expert

    Blog Author
    SPP Pool Expert
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