Best Way to Level Above Ground Pool

Best Way to Level Above Ground Pool

Above ground pools are a much less expensive alternative to in-ground pools, and they’re also quite a bit easier to install.

The manufacturers of above ground pools have come up with a lot of inventive ways to make them even easier to set up over the last few decades.

That said, no matter how simple installation is, there’s something every above ground pool needs that isn’t quite as easy to achieve: level ground. What is the best way to level an above ground pool?

Here we take a look at why this is so vital, and how to ensure your above ground pool is level so it functions properly and safely.

Why is a level above ground pool so important?

There are a lot of reasons why you need to know the best way to level an above ground pool before you get started installing one.

The obvious reason is to maintain an even water level but it’s actually a little more complicated than that.

If an above ground pool is uneven, the first thing that goes wrong is that water starts to overflow from one side when people start splashing around in the pool.

This might not seem like a big deal at first but as time goes on, that side of the pool wall begins to lose its integrity. First, it will lean and spill more water.

Then, it starts to lean even more until, eventually, the entire wall gives out and the pool is no longer usable. This is not only a waste of money but it’s also a risk for injury and significant property damage.

You can see why knowing the best way to level above ground pools is important. So, how do you do it?

It all starts with prep work

One of the first things you can do to make sure your above ground pool is level is to choose the right spot to set it up in the first place.

Yes, the corner of your yard with the hill might get more sun but that’s not the ideal area for an above-ground pool.

Make sure you choose an area with ample space that’s as level as it can possibly be. You should leave at least three feet between the swimming pool and your home or any other structures on your property.

Stay away from trees if you can as the falling leaves and branches will increase how often you need to clean the water. Drainage is important, too.

You want to make sure you’re not setting your pool up in an area that’s prone to flooding or that gets a lot of drainage.

Tools for leveling the ground

Some people have the idea that primitive methods are the best for this type of job or go to the opposite extreme and think they need to rent large tools or heavy equipment.

The truth is somewhere in between these two extremes.

Here are some of the tools you’ll need:

  • Shovel
  • Large level
  • Stake to mark the center of the pool
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Tape Measure
  • String or rope
  • Spray paint to mark the perimeter
  • Rake
  • Sub-base material if needed
  • Duct tape
  • Hand tamper
  • Garden hose

The process

There are a lot of ways to approach this task. Undoubtedly, everyone who has done the job before will have their own opinion as to the best way to level an above ground pool area.

Some are easy and unreliable. The best approach is pretty involved but effective and worthwhile.

Once you’ve chosen the best area in your yard, here’s how to proceed:

1. Make sure there are no utility lines underneath the area you’re planning to work with. Check with your municipality.

There may even be a phone number you can call to get information about digging.

2. Visually inspect the area and mark the places that need to be leveled.

3. Begin by digging the identified areas down to the height of the lower areas. It is much easier to approach leveling this way than to attempt to build up the low areas.

If your land is really uneven or has very high slopes, this might involve a lot of digging and you may want to consider renting heavy equipment.

4. Use the level to determine if the freshly dug areas are now level and dig as needed until they are.

5. Clean up any twigs, stones, rocks, or visible debris using the rake.

6. Wet the ground using the garden hose and compact the soil using the hand tamper.

7. Use the level frequently throughout the process to make sure the ground is level as you work your way around the pool area.

Can an above ground pool sit on grass?


While some manufacturers may tell you otherwise, this isn’t a good idea. The grass underneath the pool will continue to grow and could damage the lining.

Because there’s no protection underneath and nothing has been done to prepare the area, there could be rocks and twigs that could poke through.

Can the ground be leveled after the pool has water in it?

While not impossible, it’s exceptionally difficult to level the ground under an above ground pool after it is already filled with water. For starters, you have to drain the swimming pool until it’s nearly empty.

Attempting to level a pool filled with water is not only nearly impossible, but it’s also exceptionally dangerous.

If something happens and the wall of the pool is punctured in the process, a lot of water is going to come pouring out and that can cause significant injuries and damage your property.

Final thoughts

Knowing the best way to level above ground pool areas is important because this is a job you have to get right the first time.

If you don’t, you’re only going to end up causing yourself more grief later when you have to drain the above ground swimming pool and do the whole job all over again.

The steps we’ve listed here seem pretty simple but this process is a lot of work. Using the right tools makes it a little easier and so does approaching the task with the right attitude.

This is a big job but it will be worth it when you’re spending the rest of your hot summer afternoons relaxing in the backyard pool.

Ready to splurge on an above ground pool?

Are you convinced that an above ground pool will make the perfect addition to your back yard? Check out our picks for the best above ground pools to buy right now.

Then, after your above ground pool is installed, make sure to fit it with the best above ground pool lights to make swimming at night safe, and/or solar-powered pool heaters to make winter swims possible.

Read more about above ground pools

Be sure to do all the necessary research before investing in an above ground pool. Whether you’re looking to find out how much to fill an above ground pool or how to install an above ground pool liner, we’ve got all the info you need.

Maybe you’re wondering if above ground pools can have different depths (spoiler: they do!) or if above ground pools can be converted to saltwater (yes, they can!).

And when summer comes to an end, find out how to winterize an above ground pool and how to heat an above ground pool.

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