Dirt Or Rock For Above Ground Pool Backfill

by Valari
(Canfield, OH)

We are installing a semi in ground Oasis pool by Sharkline. We are putting it 3 ft in the ground. We do have the pump and filter system for an in ground pool. My question is what to use to backfill the pool? Some people tell us to use all rock while others tell us to use the dirt from the hole. No one seems to give us a straight answer. This is an aluminum pool, so I would think that it should be able to hold up to either being used. Any help would be appreciated.

Hi Valari. Glad to hear you are using an in ground filter system. You will not be disappointed with that decision. I have used above ground systems and in ground, there is no comparison.

As far as the backfill goes, use anything but rock, or sand for that matter. You want to backfill with something that will pack solid.

There will come a time when you will want to drain the pool to change the liner. If sand or rocks were used to backfill, they will not have packed. The result is that as soon as the pool is drained the wall will collapse.

You want to use something that will pack solid in a year or two. Usually the dirt that came out of the hole will work. That's not always the case in the case of clay or overly sandy dirt. It's a judgment thing, but make sure the backfill will pack solid.

Aluminum walls are very susceptible to corrosion. They may not rust the way steel walls do but they do corrode. I would coat the wall with roofing tar before I backfilled the pool. We do this for steel walls also, to extend the life of the wall, but I would definitely coat an aluminum above ground pool wall.

Comments for Dirt Or Rock For Above Ground Pool Backfill

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Jul 12, 2011
Backfill to include weeping tile?
by: Francine

Hi, what are your thoughts on including weeping tile as part of the back fill? Weeping tile will help move water away from the pool. Place weeping tile and then backfill with dirt / stone dust. Please comment. Thanks.

Hi Francine, I have no problem with that at all. In very wet climates it makes good sense.

Jul 14, 2014
tarring aluminum pool partially sunk in ground
by: Judith Harms

We are having an 18x40 Bermuda Oasis aluminum pool installed by a local pool professional who had installed this type of pool several times before as well as installing partially sunken pools. After reading this comment about tarring the pool area below ground, I called the engineer at Wilbar who makes the pools. He told me tarring was not needed. He said as long as my soil was not base (high in lime) there would be no problem with corrosion. I checked with our state Soil and Conservation service in northern Indiana who told me based on my Google map location on their surveys that my soil was not base, but instead a sandy loam that is slightly alkaline. Our previous aluminum pool was installed above ground and lasted us 22 years and was taken out by hail, 5" of rain and 60mph winds. I also emailed Wilbar and received paperwork on partially inground installation that said the backfill must be clean, compacted, granular material and should have a 4" cove running down from the outside of the pool to drain water away from the pool. This area atop the cove should be filled with drainage stone (I am using river rock) and should be checked every other month for a year and the cove regraded if necessary to maintain the drainage away from the pool. Their pool also should not be sunk more than 26" into the ground and should always have a minimum of 48" of water in it (this is a 54" pool). Liners should not be changed when the ground is wet after rain or snow melt. I also read that it is better not to use mulch in this 16" area of backfill surrounding the pool because it retains moisture. I am planning to put landscaping cloth atop the backfill, then the stone to make it easier to pull back the stone and add more soil if necessary. Does this seem like a commonsense plan and should I make the drainage area wider than the 16" shown in the installation?

Hi, 16" is plenty and yes, you have it all covered.

Jul 08, 2018
Backfill for Sunken Pool - Clay Soil
by: Pool in Kansas

Hello - this is a great site and finding it very helpful. I noticed in a previous post you mentioned concerns about back-filling a sunken pool with clay or sand. I live in Kansas and my soil has quite a bit of clay. I'm putting a 54" pool 24" in the ground and was planning to back fill around the edges with the dirt we dug out. Should clay soil not be used?


Hi Just going down 24" you should be just fine with the soil you dug out.

Jun 12, 2021
by: Anonymous

My above ground pool is a Java oval. We had to place it 10inches down into the ground. I am reading what you have said about backfill....I guess I just need to double check. Can we backfill with the soil/clay mixture we dug out? (It has a few small stones in it). I am just thinking about snow and water from the weather, I am in Ontario near Lake Ontario (Canada). Can the pool wall withstand outer pressure on it from the backfill? (52inch H, 15 x26 oval).Thank you for your thoughts on this, if you are still active.

Hi I think you would be fine with the soil you dug out.

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