How to Level the Ground for Your Above Ground Pool

  • May 7, 2024
  • 7937
How to Level the Ground for Your Above Ground Pool

Summer fun in the sun begins with the first splash in your above ground pool!

Whether you’re considering purchasing an above ground pool, are a new pool owner, or are a seasoned pro who just wants some tips on how to get your pool ready for a new season, make sure you start with a “clean slate” before setting up your pool.

Leveling the playing field (the ground) correctly will ensure you can continue to enjoy your above ground pool for many years to come!

Before you get started, we recommend rounding up the following items:

•    Pool Manual or Instructions
•    2x4s, Stakes & String
•    Mason Level or Carpenter Level
•    Shovel (or any other tool to remove dirt and debris)
•    Rake
•    Tamper or Flat Garden Hoe 
•    Garden Hose
•    Mason/Mortar Sand (optional)
•    Ground Cloth


Once you’re ready to set up your above ground pool, follow these 5 steps for leveling the ground:

1. Check the Manual or Instructions

The very first thing you want to do is read the full manual or instructions included with your pool. Follow the recommendations to learn the best method for above ground pool installation and what actions could void your warranty.

After reading the manual, determine if you’re going to need additional help leveling the ground. If you have a large above ground pool and don’t have the necessary equipment to level the ground, you may want to ask your friends or family for help or consider hiring a pool installation company. 


Note: Don't have your manual? No worries! You can find your pool's manual on the product page of our website by entering your item or serial number into the website search bar. If you don't know your pool's serial number, here's how to find it. Once you're on the product page, just scroll down to "Manual & files."

2. Choose the Right Location & Remove Rocks

The second thing you want to do is choose the best location for your above ground pool.

The location must be a flat, smooth surface that’s at least 10 feet away from your house or any other large object. The location must be clear of any aggressive plants or weeds, or any overhead powerlines or trees.

We recommend grass, concrete or any other surface that can support the total weight of the water inside the pool and the pool users.

Avoid putting your above ground pool on a balcony, deck, mud, gravel, loose soil, driveway or any surface that is not set up to support (or could collapse or shift under) the weight of the water.

After you’ve found the best location, remove any large rocks, debris and plants from the area that could damage the pool. 

3. Identify High Points & Add or Remove Soil

Next, identify any high points using 2x4s or stakes and string.

Important: You never want to attempt to eyeball the level of the ground because being off by one or two inches can impact how your above ground pool is supported.

If you choose to use 2x4s, start by placing them at the center of the pool area to the outer edge – using as many as needed to reach the border. Then, place a level on top of each 2x4 to identify the areas that aren’t level. If you identify spots that aren’t level, mark them with another 2x4 before you start digging.

If you choose to use stakes and string, place one stake at the center of the area and one at outer edge. Tie the string between the stakes and then place the level on top of the string to ensure the ground is level.

Once you’ve located the areas that aren’t level, using a shovel, add or remove dirt to/from the needed areas. Start by adding or removing one scoop at a time to ensure you’re not adding or removing too much. Continue adding or removing dirt until the entire area is level.


4. Rake & Tamp the Ground

Once the ground is level, rake the area to remove any rocks or debris that may have surfaced from the leveling process. Once all the debris has been removed, water the soil with a hose until it’s moist (could take about an hour).

Once the area is moistened, use a tamper (you can find at Lowes, Home Depot or your local hardware store) to flatten the surface.

Optional Step: Top Area with Sand
*** Please refer to the pool’s manual before proceeding with this optional step, as the incorrect use of sand can cause damage. ***

After compacting, an optional step is to top off the area with sand. Sand is not used to level the ground; it’s used as a buffer between the ground and your pool’s liner. 

You’ll want to use Mason sand (mortar sand) that can be found at any sand/gravel yard or masonry supply yard. This type of sand is very fine and creates a very smooth bottom, as you don’t want to use any sand that contains rocks that could damage the bottom of your pool.

You’ll want to begin by digging at least two inches into the ground and then adding no more than one or two inches of sand (making sure the sand stays inside the pool liner area).

Once the sand is down, tamp the area again to make sure it’s compacted to avoid shifting. You want to avoid your feet sinking into the sand and creating divots that could lead to wrinkles in your liner – shortening the lifespan of your liner.

Lastly, remove any twigs, debris or rocks that may have surfaced during this process.

5. Put Down a Ground Cloth

The final (optional, but highly recommended) step is to put down a ground cloth before you set up your above ground pool.

Ground cloths protect your above ground pool from wear and tear caused by pebbly turf, pointy twigs and other ground debris. They not only offer protection for the bottom of your pool, they also offer protection for your lawn. In the event water spills over the edge of your pool, it will accumulate on the surface, saving you from sinking in sludge when you exit your pool. 

Now that you’ve got your game plan set for leveling the ground, you’re on your way to many splash-filled sunny days in your above ground pool.


Every article is researched and created by experienced copywriters, product and industry experts and outdoor enthusiasts who want to enrich your life with fun, adventure and happiness!

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