Above Ground Pool Backfill

by Jana Theaderman
(New Richmond, Ohio)

What is the best material to use for backfill, dirt or limestone? Our above ground pool has about 16-inches on one side that needs filled.

Should I use a drain pipe?

Hi Jana

I doubt if a drainpipe is needed, it sure does not sound like it.

With only back filling 16" you do not need to be concerned with something that will have to pack solid it a short period of time.

I would use dirt. The only precaution I might take is to coat the wall to prevent rust.

This could be landscaping plastic or a coating of roofing tar, but I would put something between the dirt and the pool sidewall.

Comments for Above Ground Pool Backfill

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Jun 23, 2015
About backfilling around above ground pool
by: Luiza

Hello! We just got our 12x24 above ground pool installed and we are too having trouble deciding what to do with the hole around the back end and right side of the pool. Our yard was about 2 feet unleveled in the highest end so we had to bring it down about 2 feet. Now we have a pretty deep hole at that end and around the right side starting out deep and lessening as it approaches the front end of the pool.

What is our best option at this point for the backfill? We purchased rubberized undercoating spray to spray around on pool wall where backfill will be to prevent rust. Should we also put some type of plastic around the wall up to where the dirt will come up to the entire 2 feet? If so, can you please explain what kind of plastic or other material we should use? What is the best backfilling material to use? Some mention dirt but should we be worried about rocks damaging the wall? Or gravel? Or a slurry mixture? Can you please be as specific as you can be when describing what we should use. And the landscaping plastic you speak of, should we put that directly on top of the sand used to cover bottom rail or lay some dirt first and then the plastic with mulch on top of it?

We are just so confused with the many options and what is right in order for walls not to cave in. We need out pool grounded and to bond the water so we don't want to do the cement mixture as it will be hard to get copper wire in afterwards so dirt is better option but we don't want to deal with walls caving in if we ever need to change our liner.

Also do we need to install a drain of some sort around the pool on bottom in dirt to prevent draining issues? Thank you so much in advance. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!


Don't over think the whole thing, there are many right ways of doing it. I would use your spray and then backfill with dirt. Around the low side the plastic can go down over the sand, that's not a problem.

You are only in the ground 2', you should not have to worry about cave ins, this happens when the pool is sunk 3-4 feet. Just do your liner changes quickly, drain, install new liner and refill in a couple of days time. It's the pools that sit empty that cave in.

The one thing I don't like is gravel on top of any back filled area unless you have plastic going up the wall. If you need to drain the pool you can use the plastic to help you get all the gravel away from the wall before the pool drained.

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Sinking Pool For Unlevel Ground

by Johnny Bonee
(Tullahoma, Tn.)

My pool installer sunk one end of my pool 33 inches because of my sloped back yard. I have the ASAHI Victoria 33 ft with 54 inch walls.

He instructed me to backfill the 33 inches with the dirt he removed. Is it ok to sink an above ground pool of this type 33 inches and back fill with dirt that high?

Hi Johnny

Your installer instructed you to do exactly what I instruct my clients to do.

It is not at all uncommon to have to level the ground leaving half the pool set in the ground. The pool must be level.

You have several options with this sunk in area. If you leave it as is your yard looks ugly and rain water will sit around the pool, in the trench, and rot the pool frame or cause a cove wash out.

You need to do something with this area. You could leave it empty and install some sort of drainage, that would keep the water running off away from the pool, and not sitting around it.

You could pack the bottom of this trench with several inches of hard packed granite, all sloping towards the low side. This would run the water off and you could then cover the area with a wood decking.

The easiest way to deal with it is just like your installer said, back fill it with existing dirt.

If you are concerned about the dirt rusting the sidewall, line the wall with plastic before back filling, or paint the wall, below ground level, with roofing tar. Both methods provide an extra protection on top of the already factory painted rust inhibitors.

How much expense you want to put into it is up to you, but yes, I would back fill it.

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