An above-ground swimming pool adds a lot of fun to the backyard. You can save money by installing the pool and creating the floor for the pool yourself. This task requires only a few common landscaping and yard work tools. Plan to do the project on a dry weekend so you can avoid having to move heavy water-saturated soil while completing the excavation for the floor.
Tools and Materials
Use landscaping marking paint to layout the area where the pool will be placed. A shovel will be needed to dig out the sod and spread the sand required for the floor of the pool. A heavy garden rake will be the most effective way to level the soil and sand. A 4-foot level and a 6- to 8-foot two-by-four will be required to ensure that the pool floor is level all the way around. If a drain pipe is needed to provide adequate drainage under the pool, a perforated drain pipe, gravel and landscaping cloth will be needed to install the drainage solution. Enough mason's sand, yellow sand or clean sand and clay mixture to create a 2-inch layer of sand over the soil will also be needed for this project.
Plan and Layout
Choose an appropriate location for your pool. Trees will add shade but increase maintenance because you will have to clean out leaves in the fall. When choosing the location, be sure that the pool will not cover electrical lines, plumbing for sewer or septic systems, gas lines or other utilities. Check with local officials for required clearances and add that to the area to be cleared. Common clearances around the perimeter of the pool are 3 to 6 feet. Use landscaping marking spray paint to lay out the area where the pool will be installed.
Clear and Level
Dig all of the sod out of the area where the pool will be located. If the location is on a slope, start from the lowest side and remove only what is needed. Work toward the higher side and dig out as much soil as required to level the floor. Use a 4-foot level placed on top of a 6-foot or 8-foot two-by-four to make sure the floor is level. Use a rake to smooth the soil, knock down high spots and fill in low spots. Be careful to remove only the soil that you need to remove to keep the existing soil compacted. If an area needs to be built up more than 2 to 3 inches, it is best to use a tamper to compact the soil to reduce the risk of the water compressing the soil in that area and potentially collapsing the pool.
If there is a possibility that drainage will be necessary to prevent rain water from collecting under the pool, install a perforated drain pipe to provide run-off to a lower area away from the pool. Install the perforated pipe similar to a French drain. Dig out only the area needed for the pipe, line the area with landscaping fabric, add a shallow layer of crushed stone, lay the pipe in place and cover with stone. The top of the stone over the pipe should be at least 2 inches below the level of the pool liner so 2 inches of sand can be placed above the drainage system in addition to the 2 inches of sand required for the pool floor.
Pour 2 inches of mason's sand, yellow sand or a clean soft clay and sand mixture over the entire pool floor area. Level by moving the sand with a rake and use the level to be sure the pool is level both crosswise and lengthwise.
Continue the pool installation according to the pool manufacturer's instructions.