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Thread: Ideas to deal with pool decking to yard height differences and drop offs?

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    Ideas to deal with pool decking to yard height differences and drop offs?

    Hi There - We are wrapping up our pool project and now that the concrete decking is done, it's clear we have some more 'work' to do to make the yard-to-deck transitions more usable and more "finished" looking. The yard slopes down a fair bit so on the deep end of the pool/deck we have quite a drop off at the side as well as a gradual drop off from level to steep along the back of the deck. I was hoping to get some ideas about some reasonable options that I could do to help deal with these areas and make them more aesthetically pleasing as well as more functional if possible. One thing i've already encountered is the back/sides of the pool are a mud swamp when wet. It rained a little and if you walk back there you get mass clay/mud on the shoes that sticks like glue until you track it onto the pool deck and porch, not ideal at all. One thought I had was to do a block retaining wall along the deep end side to follow the square from the front deck (its 2' wider) towards the back to square it off and give about a 2' planter that would be deck height. I think the whole pool deck surround needs some elements to it to make it feel more finished though, not just that area. It just looks like a huge blob of concrete (because it is) in the yard. We will have a fire pit built on the deck in the front area so that will help give it a little more visual interest as well. Was also planning on putting a shower head on the side of the little well house building (now going to be pool house) so i'd need to figure out a way to make walking to it from the pool area a little better than it is right now (i.e. jump off the back side of the deck into the dirt). On my 2D layout sketches, I had drawn some stepping stones, etc, however 2D didn't capture the vast level difference between yard and pool unfortunately.

    Definitely hoping to get some thoughts and opinions though.
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    bmoreswim's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Central MD

    Re: Ideas to deal with pool decking to yard height differences and drop offs?

    Looks to me like you need to invest in serious amounts of soil and feather it out into the yard. But you would need to build a large well for that tree to keep the roots from having additional soil placed on them (unless you don't like the tree!) What happened to the dirt from the dig? Around here they rarely remove soil. Ours was used to fill the three foot drop off the back side of our pool. Then the extra spread across the bottom of the yard.

    Seems like it was a poor analysis of the need for backfill if they took it from you.

    The project looks great. I love the setting you have.
    18'x38' Rectangle (3'-8 1/2' deep w/ diving board) - 27K gal. Saltwater w/ gray plaster
    Hayward equipment (cartridge filter, 2-speed pump, salt cell, automation) View Our Build
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    s9601694's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Conroe, TX

    Re: Ideas to deal with pool decking to yard height differences and drop offs?

    What bmoreswim said! We had a pretty high drop off as well but my PB left a truck load of dirt behind. During cleanup they placed most of that along the new patio to smooth it out. We actually asked him not to do it on the other side because we are planning plant an flower beds there and intend to backfill it with black dirt.
    See my POOL!
    Free form pool, 128 ft perimeter, max length 42ft, max width 38.5 ft, depth 3.5 - 8ft, Chilean Beach Gold Pearl Matrix, 13 ton moss rock waterfall, tanning ledge with 3 gushers, PV3 i, LED underwater lights, automatic water leveling system, 1424 sqft deck.

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    SW Indiana

    Re: Ideas to deal with pool decking to yard height differences and drop offs?

    I think a retaining wall out a couple of feet with landscaping between the edge of the deck and the wall is more attractive and more practical.

    When we built, we feathered the dirt. Grass from mowing leaves etc. blew into the pool because there was nothing to stop it. We cut the dirt down and put in a retaining wall so the step is still there to stop things that are blown across the ground from getting to the pool. Much cleaner and nicer looking. Leave gaps in the wall for stairs.
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    Re: Ideas to deal with pool decking to yard height differences and drop offs?

    You probably like that tree but you would have a lot more options if it were gone. Plus getting rid of future problems with roots and your deck and pool shell. Plus all of those leaves dropping right in the pool. A retaining wall going in between it and the deck is going to be awkward at least. I do think a retaining wall with steps going down into the yard would look nice. If the tree was gone you could just have some fill dirt brought in and slope it into the yard for a cheap solution. You could do some nice landscape beds around the pool in either of those scenarios.

    50' x 22' 27k gal shotcrete freeform, 2hp 2 sp Pentair Whisperflo, Pool Pilot RC-52 SWCG, Pentair TR 100 sand filter, Polaris 280, 2 Pentair Intellibrite LED lights with controller, french gray plaster, Butterfield U-20 "smoke"integral colored salt finish concrete cantilever deck on one side, flagstone coping on the other.

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    Re: Ideas to deal with pool decking to yard height differences and drop offs?

    Thanks for the suggestions. Thus far, our stone guy is here making the firepit and we're adding to his to-do list. (Prior to reading these suggestions). We're doing some raised planter bed in the matching stone/lueders where the planter cutouts are along the porch to make those level with the porch. Then going to do a stone retaining wall along the deep side to square off that section and create a 20' x 26" planter. Theres 2 semi flat boulders laying right there from the dig that were gonna try to chip into more flat pieces and move them up against the slab to act as make-shift rural steps down from the slab (in between porch and that problem tree area). I have a huge pile of dirt we saved from the dig, so we were planning on bringing that behind the deck in the back of the pool to gradually level it down. I'm much more concerned about that area than the side where the problem tree is at the moment as we have a reason to walk back and forth to the pool/well house back there. I think the retaining wall conversation is about the side where the tree is if im reading it right, correct? meaning, not putting some kind of retaining wall in the back of the pool between the well house? Just want to be clear, im finding i'm not great at visualizing the whole leveling/grading the earth stuff unfortunately. The other thing I was thinking is doing a 1-2' gravel border around the decking along the back and the right side to keep anything from growing there and help with drainage (and i dont want to have to weed eat/mow that close to the concrete).


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    AlanH's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010

    Re: Ideas to deal with pool decking to yard height differences and drop offs?

    JD - Your thread caught my eye because of a similar issue that we faced. Our build site was on quite a steep slope. We used this to our advantage placing the decking/patio on two levels. For us this made for a more interesting landscape design as well as accommodating the cascade into a return basin. We also had to build wells to preserve two trees (shade more important than leaves in the pool; also happen to like trees). A few pics below.





    My thoughts would tend toward using the difference in elevation as a design element in your landscaping.
    "I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." (R. Frost); 12.5K gal; 18'x72" round joined to 10x16x18" oval; vinyl liners; ferrocement-like wall panels; perimeter wet edge; fountain and cascade; Pentair Dynamo 1hp 2 spd; Pentair CC75 filter; Pentair no-lube valves. My build here.

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