Sigh, never, EVER have people do work while you're not home! Well, I had a retaining wall installed, and wanted a 2ft "gap" around the whole thing. The excavator put drain pipes in, and then ran them around and out to the ditch. Well, he went WAY to close. I told him repeatedly to make sure to go away from where the pool will be, but he didn't listen. So now I have a trench, where the drain pipe in, around half the pool area, and a retaining wall around the other half. My son and I went out and took at 12ft string (for a 24ft pool) We end up 8-10 inches from the wall, and about 4-5 inches from where the ground starts to slope for the drain ditch! I almost want to cry. So basically, I got 4-8 inches around the pool that is safe and flat.