How to Level the Ground For an Above-Ground Pool

Above-ground pools like the Bestway Steel Pro Frame pools are a cheaper and easier alternative to installing an in-ground swimming pool. They allow you to enjoy last-minute summer bathing thanks to their quicker and easier installation process.

However, installing an above-ground pool will still require some time and effort as you will need to prepare the garden by levelling out the ground of its designated location. This can be done by yourself, but for much larger pools it’s recommended to employ a professional.

If you are doing it yourself, here are some of our best tips for levelling the ground ready for a pool. 

Check out our guide on swimming pool maintenance

Why Above-Ground Swimming Pools Need a Level Ground

It may sound obvious, but there are several reasons why it is essential to level the ground of the area you have chosen for your above-ground pool.

Safety Precaution

When an above-ground pool is established on uneven ground, it can pose a safety hazard. The water will become uneven, creating a deep and shallow end, which can be dangerous for children who cannot touch the bottom of the pool.

Uneven water can also produce problems for the skimmer, as well as other cleaning equipment if they are situated in the unintended shallow end of the pool.

Uneven Weight Distribution

If the weight of the swimming pool is unevenly distributed, it can compromise the structural integrity of the pool. This can cause the walls to buckle, twist or break.

The constant pressure in concentrated areas can result in a damaged section giving out and unleashing a flood of water over your garden, which will put those in and outside of the pool at risk.

Aesthetically Pleasing

It may sound like the least of your worries, but after installation, the pool will become a functional feature of your garden that will attract the eye. An unlevel pool will be obvious, eye-catching and unsatisfying.

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What You Need to Level The Ground For Your Swimming Pool

The task at hand isn’t too tricky. It can be tedious, but with the right tools, the job will be made a lot easier and quicker.

To level out the ground for your new swimming pool you will need:

  • A sod cutter/sod removing tool - this will remove a partition of grass and a thin layer of dirt
  • A long two-by-four plank of wood
  • A spirit level
  • A wide shovel
  • A wide rake
  • A lawn roller - if you don’t own one or can’t borrow one you may need to hire a professional
  • Sand

Two pairs of gloves on a picnic table

Choosing an Area For Your Above-Ground Pool

Before you start to level out the ground for your new above-ground swimming pool, you will first need to decide where you would like to situate the pool.

Here are some important factors you might want to consider when choosing the perfect location:

  • An area that is already somewhat flat will reduce the amount of labour required.
  • Consider a semi-shaded area so you can enjoy the sun’s rays while also having the option to be protected from them if needed.
  • Avoid areas that are directly under trees. They are abundant in organic debris which will increase the general maintenance of the swimming pool.
  • Steer clear of septic or sewage lines, underground cables and power lines.
  • Allow four feet of space to surround the pool.
  • Do not place the swimming pool on a deck, balcony or platform. The structures could collapse under the weight of a filled pool.
  • Ensure the pool is not set up on mud, loose sand or loose soil. The ground should be firm and compact.

It’s also worth noting that wherever the pool is located, the chemicals in the pool's water, such as chlorine, will damage the nearby grass. It is inevitable that water will be splashed, which will spray the chemicals and can negatively impact the surrounding plants.

A man’s hands rolling up grass

How to Level the Ground For Your Swimming Pool

This process is incredibly straightforward, especially when equipped with the right tools.

Clear The Area

Remove any objects, rocks and debris from the area you intend to place the above-ground swimming pool.

Once you have done this you will need to remove the grass with a sod cutter. Cut, roll and relocate the grass to another area, or if you prefer you can hire a professional to do this for you.

When preparing your site, it is usually recommended to have the pool site at least two inches deep.

Remove any rocks, roots or other forms of debris that may have been situated beneath the grass. It's important to do this as these can cause damage to the liner of your swimming pool.

Use a Levelling Device

To level out the ground, you will need a levelling device. Use a two-by-four plank of wood and a long spirit level to measure the evenness of the surrounding area.

A simple and easy method is to lay down the two-by-four on the ground, and then place the spirit level on top of the wood, attaching it with a cable tie if need be. The levelling device will help indicate which areas will need additional attention throughout the ground preparation process.

Level the Ground

Once you have unearthed the plot, use a shovel to level out the necessary areas by either adding or subtracting soil until it is perfectly flat.

Once you have determined that the area is level, you will now need to flatten out any apparent bumps and holes. Use the shovel to dig into the bumps and fill in any holes that may interfere with the level of the ground.

Use Sand to Smooth it Out

The amount of sand required will naturally depend on the size of your above-ground swimming pool. You will want enough to create at least a 2-inch thick foundation for your pool.

The sand provides a compact foundation that will support your swimming pool and pose as a barrier against grass, weeds and sharp objects.

Use a rake to evenly spread the sand across the site. Once the sand has been smoothed over, you can then water it and leave it to dry overnight.

Compact the Sand

Once the sand has rested, it will need to be compacted into a solid foundation. To do this, we recommend using a lawn roller. You can rent these from your local garden centre or hire a professional to do this for you.

The plot of sand will need to be gone over completely and packed down flat. Once you are happy with the outcome, you will then need to bring out your trusty levelling device and check over the area to ensure it is flat.

If you find that the area is at an uneven angle, you will need to relevel the area with a shovel and then use the lawn roller to once again flatten it.

Lay Down the Base Protector

Once you have a solid foundation of levelled-out sand, you can start to lay down the base layer.

We recommend a specialised pool pad; this usually entails a large layer of foam or tarp that will sit under the swimming pool, adding another layer of protection.

The addition of a base layer will lower the risks of puncturing the liner, help to insulate the pool and prevent heat loss. At an absolute minimum, it’s recommended to lay down a sheet of tarp.

Set Up The Pool

All that’s left to do is set up your above-ground swimming pool. The installation process will depend on the size and manufacturer. Carefully follow the instructions or hire a professional to set the pool up for you.

We hope you have found this guide helpful to level out the ground for your new swimming pool. For more information and advice about swimming pools, you can visit our blog here at 1st Direct Pools!

How Deep Are Above Ground Pools?

At 1st Direct Pools, we stock a range of above ground pools in various sizes, from 60cm to 2m in depth. Whether you’re looking for a shallow paddling pool for young children or a large steel frame pool to host the entire family, we’ve got you covered.

Are Above Ground Pools Expensive to Maintain?

Above ground pools require less maintenance compared to inground or permanent outdoor swimming pools. However, regular care is important to keep your pool algae-free and prevent chemical imbalances.

Check out our beginners guide to bestway pool maintenance and care

If you require any support when installing or maintaining your pool, don’t hesitate to contact our experienced team here, at 1st Direct Pools.