How much would you pay to remove sod and level the ground for a large above ground pool?

Brett S

Well-known member
Mar 15, 2019
706
Orlando
So I have ordered a 32x16x52 intex pool and now I need to get the ground ready for it. I did the groundwork for my 15’ round intex pool a year and a half ago and I remember it taking two or three days and a lot of effort. And even despite my best effort the ground was still not perfectly flat.

The sandy soil here in florida is pretty easy to dig in and the area is pretty flat as it is - probably no more than 4-5 inches between the low spots and the high spots. But removing the sod was what took a lot of effort last time and I’m kind of dreading doing the same for not only the larger pool, but also a patio that I will be installing.

I’ve gotten a couple of quotes for someone to come in with a skid steer and do the work for about $400-$500. Those numbers are definitely on the high side of what I might be willing to pay, but I could probably still swing it.

Does that seem like a reasonable amount to remove the sod and level two areas? The pool area will be about 18x34 and the patio area will be about 24x14.
 

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
4,443
NY
I like to keep my $500 as much as the next person, maybe even more..... but not for 3 days of backbreaking manual labor. There were times of course where i had no choice but to DIY but boy did they stink.
 

Brett S

Well-known member
Mar 15, 2019
706
Orlando
Yeah, the more I think about it the more I think it makes sense to let them do it. I’m not quite so pressed for time this time... My parents are coming at the end of the month to help install the pool and patio and deck, so I want to get the ground prepped by then, but that’s still two+ weeks out. I had almost convinced myself I could just divide it out and work on a small section each day for two weeks without expending too much effort.

But in the end I’m not really convinced that I can really get a an 18x34 section of ground as level as it needs to be by hand. Even trying to level out the ground for the 15’ round pool with a 2x4 and a level wasn’t an easy task and I really didn’t do a great job. And now I’m talking about more than 3 times the surface area.
 

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
4,443
NY
........ and don’t even get me started on if the weather will cooperate when you need it too. Lol. Best of luck to you either way.
 
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JohnT

Admin
Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Apr 4, 2007
9,851
SW Indiana
I don’t think a skid steer is the right tool for this job. Going to do a lot of over digging. A powered sod cutter will make short work of the sod removal and then shovel work for leveling.
 

wogster

In The Industry
Apr 30, 2018
158
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
What needs to be level are the upright supports, sod cutter and a laser level, where the concrete pads go, make sure the pads under the supports are the same height, laser level and a piece of 1x1 with the bottom cut, square. Middle and all 4 corners or each block. The actual floor you can level by eye, it's not that critical.
 

kimkats

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2012
46,422
Tallahassee, FL
The actual floor you can level by eye, it's not that critical.
I disagree...........I wanted my bottom to be as level as possible. It really helped with how smooth it was. Of course it has formed some small divots and such but it is not bad since we started with a smooth, level bottom.
 

jseyfert3

Bronze Supporter
Oct 20, 2017
949
South-Central WI
How much would I pay? I'd probably drop $1000 without blinking. Not once, but twice now, I've tried to hand dig for smaller above ground pools. I get 85% done and get worn out, "take a break" and never finish it. Then we move. :unsure:

Anyhow, we've got a nice house now. No plans on moving anytime in the near future. I got a 26' Intex pool for a steal, and my wife is tired of my attempts to put up a pool not working out. So this year, one way or another, the pool will get done. I'm not even going to attempt to level the ground this time, as that is twice the surface area of the previous pools I've tried to level the ground for. After the ground is level though, Intex claims the pool can be put up in a hour. I watched the video and yes, besides filling it does appear that's true. Maybe two hours with two people.

I'll save the DIY for building a privacy fence and doing hard piping/equipment upgrades for my pool.
 
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ModernCha

Well-known member
May 29, 2019
80
Charlotte, NC
I would think a small bobcat could do this in one day if you wanted to rent one from Home Depot. The Bob cat removes having to carry the cut sod by wheel barrow to your truck to dispose of it. But frankly $500 seem reasonable to me. I mean just hauling away the torn out grass and any dirt that needs to be removed would make me hire it rather then do it. Unless you love to DIY this is a no brainier to me.
 

Nectarologist

Well-known member
Apr 3, 2015
572
New York
I'd hire someone for that amount in a heartbeat. Will they dispose of the sod? I agree 100% with Kim, don't eye it. Hire someone who has a proper level to do it right (standard equipment for any landscaper who does any type of hardscape work). If a company doesn't own this move on even if it means more $$. Once you have thousands of pounds of water settle on a low point you can't fix it w/o taking the pool out.
 

jseyfert3

Bronze Supporter
Oct 20, 2017
949
South-Central WI
I would think a small bobcat could do this in one day if you wanted to rent one from Home Depot. The Bob cat removes having to carry the cut sod by wheel barrow to your truck to dispose of it. But frankly $500 seem reasonable to me. I mean just hauling away the torn out grass and any dirt that needs to be removed would make me hire it rather then do it. Unless you love to DIY this is a no brainier to me.
I've rented walk-behind skid-steers. I would not recommend renting one to level ground unless you're an experienced operator. They are powerful tools, and will make the ground more unlevel then you started in a flash if you don't know what you're doing. I know this first hand.

Pay someone to come do it for you who has practice grading.
 

wogster

In The Industry
Apr 30, 2018
158
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I disagree...........I wanted my bottom to be as level as possible. It really helped with how smooth it was. Of course it has formed some small divots and such but it is not bad since we started with a smooth, level bottom.
What your looking for, on the bottom is consistency, and smoothness rather then actual level. This can be accomplished with 3 blocks of wood, two that go across and a third on top as a screed. We had an AGP in the 1970's and it was done this way. The middle was actually about 6" deeper then the outside supports. However if the supports are not level, the pool will look tilted.
 

beez74

Well-known member
Oct 15, 2018
60
Phoenix AZ
Was quoted $100 an inch for the 2 above ground pools I owned and that seemed fair considering one of them had a super high side and ended up needing 14" removed.