How to Level Ground for Pools

They’ve finally broken through your impenetrable guard, your kids have learned the value of peer pressure and you have purchased an above-ground pool. Perhaps you have taken a dive for an in-ground option, either way, enjoying your new pool isn’t as simple as purchasing it.

This guide will lead you through one of the most important steps for installing any pool. Figuring out the easiest way to level ground for a pool is sure to be on the mind of anyone who has just purchased a pool. With that seeming like a daunting task, we have the best ways to level a pool so you can get on to enjoying it instead of working on it.

Why Leveling Your Ground is Important

Dolphin Nautilus CC PlusImproperly leveling your ground can lead to a variety of issues that most pool owners would do their best to avoid. One issue is the safety hazard it could create especially for smaller children. Accidentally creating a shallow and deep end could also become an issue for pool cleaning equipment. Some tools such as skimmers can get stuck in the mistaken “shallow end”.

Possibly the biggest issue for above-ground pools is how it can compromise the structural integrity of your pool. Typically if a pool is off level by more than 5 inches it will struggle to stand and eventually buckle in or out into a mess. While this can be a minor bend in the worst case it will destroy your pool. There’s also, of course, the cosmetic disadvantage that follows an uneven pool. Uneven pools are almost immediately noticeable and that’s why most owners try to level their ground within an inch.

Tools of the Trade: Suggested Tools for Leveling the Ground

You can always do your best with the tools that God gave you but the easy way to level ground for a pool will always include helpful tools. None of these are necessary but they will certainly help you along the way.

Speed up the process:

Rototiller or Sod Cutter – With nearly every pool installation removing the grass is often the hardest step. Grass can grow pretty long with deep roots so grabbing the right machinery to get rid of it is always a good idea.

An Extended Length of Board –  Always good for leveling a flat board will prove to be an invaluable asset. Just by laying the board down in the pool site, you will instantly be able to tell the leveling areas of attention.

A Pick and/or Wide Shovel – With the proper moves you can operate a shovel in almost the same way as a pick. Their main job here is to remove any rocks that you need to get out the way. You want your pool area to be as smooth as possible and a wide shovel will certainly help.

Lawn Roller and a Wide Rake – These will be used in conjunction with the sane to make the leveling hold. The rake is first used to smooth and level the sand. The wider the rake the better. You can then follow up with the lawn roller to compress the sand.

Step By Step: Leveling the Ground

Decide on the Proper Location

There are few worse feelings than realizing that you wanted to put your pool in a different spot. The amount of work required to install a pool along with the work required to disassemble one often makes that infeasible. While it’s nice to think of your pool’s ambiance, choosing the flattest area of land will create the least effort.

You also want to think of concepts like shade when deciding on a location. Many trees can create great shade but also become quite a pain when keeping the pool clean. The last thing you want to be aware of is sewage lines or underground cables. Find a spot within your property that won’t disturb anything already there if you can.

Clear the Area

When potential rocks, grass, and debris can damage the lining of your pool it only makes sense to start by clearing the area. This is where that sod cutter can come in handy for removing grass and reusing it elsewhere. A rototiller will do a much more all-inclusive job clearing the area at a quicker pace. Make sure you get rid of any stones and roots along the way.

If you take the time to plan ahead you can clear your area a bit quicker. A thick tarp on the intended area for a few weeks will starve the grass making it easier to remove.

Setting up Your Leveling Device

The most commonly used leveling device is often just a long wooden board. You will of course first want to make sure the board itself is level. From there just balancing it at your intended site will start to reveal problem areas. Working along with a leveler you can make sure things are properly balanced. With a long enough board, you can level easier with the addition of stakes and string. By tightening the string out to the edges you can see leveling issues where slack is produced.

Fixing the Issues

With the issues revealed its time to start getting to work. A shovel is often used here to start smoothing out and problems. Digging into the ground makes leveling easier because you work away from your issues as you go. Having a base without bumps will often be more stable than a base created by adding substance over the issues. A general rule of thumb to aim for is leveling at a two-inch depth below the soil. Since you will be filling in the area with sand once the base is flat digging too deep isn’t too much of an issue.

Smooth Out the Rest with Sand

Whether you have dealt with all the issues or not once you have a level area, sand will help you smooth things out.  Sand works as a buffer against grass, weeds, sharp objects, and anything else you missed. You will need enough sand to fill up that 2-inch layer or deeper depending on how far you dug. Calling up a local landscaping supply company, or gardening center is often the best way to find sand. After it’s been placed within your wide rake should be used to smooth things out. Then it’s suggested that you water the area and leave it to dry overnight. As the water leaves it will naturally flatten as well.

Compact the Sand down Packed

Here you can whip out the lawn roller to get the sand into a nice and firm surface for your pool base. This can also be rented at local gardening centers and should be used over the entire base area. Once it’s smooth pull out your level to make sure that nothing has changed. A little shovel work and patience will be needed to make sure this process is completed. As one of the last leveling steps getting this right is very important.

Place Down Your Base Protector

Some people will purchase a specialized pool pad for adding an extra layer of protection between your base and the liner of your pool. This is because once a hole is formed they can really be a pain to get rid of.

Protecting the liner of your pool is of utmost importance for securing its longevity. If you don’t but a special pad just using a sheet of tarp is a more economical option. While it might not be made of foam any extra insulation could help in the long run.

Start Setting up Your Pool

With everything needed for a solid level base, you should be ready to begin putting together your pool.


Taking the time to properly level your pool’s base is one of the things you can’t afford to neglect when setting up a pool. With nearly every pool being a sizable investment a mistake here can end up sending way too much money down the drain. Thankfully, the process isn’t too difficult and you should have everything you need to get it done without overspending for a professional.


How do I level my ground for a pool without digging?

While it is possible to level your ground without digging it isn’t very feasible in most situations. The issue is level is always done easiest by working towards the lowest point. This will usually require digging to make the rest of the area equal. Sand is better used as a buffer after leveling over an actual leveling agent. Theoretically, however, it is possible to level sand within a base though the use of concrete is most recommended.

Creating a level concrete surface within the base frame for your pool is the best way to level without digging. Though you will still need to remove the vegetation first in any area for your pool along with leveling for the pool pump.

How do you level the ground for a rectangular pool?

The most important part about setting up for any pool is clearing the area for the base. Rectangular pools should have long pieces of wood or some other material to define the boundaries. Once you have your rectangle base in place sand is usually the preferred method for leveling. Simply fill your rectangular area up with sand until you have enough to start leveling it.

The majority of rectangular pools will have their surface sit on that sand within their rectangular base. This method can be used for any shape of pool as long as you set the base properly.

How much does it cost to level ground for a pool?

This is not a simple answer because there are many different factors that can go into your personal costs. How big the area you need for the pool, how perfect do you want the leveling, and even how you take care of your yard can all make up part of an estimate. With all of that in mind, you can still expect around a couple of hundred dollars charge for leveling a 15 by 30 area.

A professional will come in with a laser level and be able to produce that result within a couple of hours. The most important part about leveling for a pool is making sure they’re able to level the area to within 1 inch.

What to put under an above ground pool to level?

As discussed a bit above the most important part of leveling your pool is getting your bottom track level. With that in mind, there are multiple options for achieving that level with different objects underneath. Many owners will opt for leveling the ground before the pool is installed, but that can be very time-consuming.

When the most important part is just having a level bottom the most popular way to achieve this is with blocks. Multiple leveled blocks under each connector should achieve the desired effect. Another popular option is using sand to achieve a level surface. With enough pressure and a properly built base sand will stay compact for a level pool surface.