It has been said, and I tend to agree, the three most important things to remember about installing an above ground pool are right here.
1. Start with perfectly level ground
2. Start with perfectly level ground
3. Start with perfectly level ground
So how important is perfectly level ground? Critical.
The outcome of your above ground pool installation depends on your initial ground prep. Spend the majority of your time and money on this first, most important, step. Leveling an above ground pool starts with level ground.
So how do you get the ground perfectly level? That's what we will be talking about here.
Start your ground prep by completely removing all vegetation in the pool area. Get rid of all the trees, weeds and grass.
I do the majority of my ground prep with a sod cutter and shovels. This may seem like way too much manual labor for some people but I feel in the long run it saves labor and money. A sod cutter is made to remove grass. It cuts into the ground below grass level so that when you shovel it up all of the grass is removed. When a tractor tries to remove sod a lot of the grass and roots are mixed back into the ground and packed down by the weight of the machine.
Tractors are also known to leave a lot of deep tire tracks that will need to be filled in and smoothed out. A sod cutter leaves a perfectly flat, grass and vegetation free, area to start you initial leveling.
How you go about moving the dirt around from here is up to you. I use my sod cutter to loosen the ground in the high areas and also to pack the ground in any areas that have been filled. I also use shovels, picks and a jack hammer on occasion.
Other methods that are used are a long 2x4 with a carpenters level. Done correctly this can be effective, it is just a lot more time consuming. The other methods are similar in that they use a level center point to set the rest of the pool. Off of that center point you can use a clear hose half full of water. The two points are level when the water is centered in the hose. A string with a line level attached can be used also but because of the small level being used it is the least effective.
I start my pool installation once the ground is well within an inch of being level. Once the bottom rails and foot plates are connected, and the pool is perfectly round, I level each footplate. As I am doing that the track between the posts is also leveled. When this is done the entire outer ring is within an 1/8" of an inch of level. That's pretty level.
I then make sure the ground inside the ring is level. This is more of a visual thing. I will knock down the highs and fill in the lows. Now the pool is level and ready to finish the installation.