just broke ground- need help leveling and prepping ground- I may have messed up

iwillhaveapoolthissummer

Active member
Apr 13, 2021
33
riverside, ca usa
Hi all, I just wanted to thank you all in advance for all your help. I seemed to have found a great group.

I'm installing a 22x12 bestway oval pool from costco. I hope to do this myself without hiring professionals. I'm on a budget :)

A couple weeks ago I broke ground with a tiller on my yard. I had grass and weeds growing throughout the yard so I decided to rent a big tiller and go at it. If you look at my pictures. Sides 3 & 4 have a higher slope than 1 & 2 , so I dug a little deeper.

Some concerns. I removed about 3 inches from sides 3&4 and about 1 inch from 1&2 . Now my ground is kind of soft and i'm concerned the top soil is going to sink. I tried to level the best I can using a 2x4 and scraping the top from the highest sides and going down. I put the level on top of the 2x4 and it seems somewhat leveled and someone eye leveled. ( I know thats not good enough) . I'm considering making a water level with the tube and bucket I saw someone use on youtube. If someone thinks i should rent a laser level please let me know. Just know my wife isn't gonna be happy with me spending more money haha.

Now that the ground is soft in all areas, some softer than others, do i have to rent that machine that stomps the ground ( a plate compactor)? Also should i be watering the soil so it sinks more? Should I do this before leveling it? Any and all help will be appreciated.

I no longer have the tiller and I'm hoping I no longer need it. (since its been 2 weeks. My grass is starting to grow back please see pictures. Does anyone know How I can stop grass and weeds from growing naturally ( I really don't want to use weed killers because i have kids and and dogs and food growing near by. )

UPDATE - I WILL NOT BE USING SAND ( I hope) - I'M RESEARCHING FOAM BASE - can a foam base be done without the use of sand. My soil is failry soft without any big chunks or rocks

If you all notice i did leave some soil on the perimeter of my rectangle i dug up in case i need it to fill some more spots for leveling. Right the my rectangle is about 15 feet by 28 feet. I'm hoping that is enough room.

Where do I go from here? I know i need to level this thing more, Just don't know if I should try leveling the soil while its soft or I should harden it by adding a bunch of water or renting the plate compactor.


Any help would be appreciated. I know its a lot of questions. I don't want to mess this up. I over think things but I know this is important. Thanks again
 

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scout123

Bronze Supporter
Feb 18, 2018
430
Northwest GA
Hey. I'm not understanding why your ground is soft or would need compaction if you removed soil?? I tilled my area too, and then scraped away all the loose soil, so I was on undisturbed ground which was naturally hard. I've seen others use a water level, and it worked great so you might try that. Yes, you can use foam without sand. I did that. Good luck.
 

iwillhaveapoolthissummer

Active member
Apr 13, 2021
33
riverside, ca usa
Hey. I'm not understanding why your ground is soft or would need compaction if you removed soil?? I tilled my area too, and then scraped away all the loose soil, so I was on undisturbed ground which was naturally hard. I've seen others use a water level, and it worked great so you might try that. Yes, you can use foam without sand. I did that. Good luck.
HI Scott, the ground it somewhat hard. I just found myself throwing around loose dirt to make it even on the low end I do admit i did add some dirt to even it out and make it more level. It wasn't much. maybe 1/8 of the area at one corner and side.



What kind of foam did you use. I'm currently trying to located xps board 250 1 inch -foamular - however i'm having no luck. Does anyone out there know comparable product. I live in california , 92503 zip.. thank you
 

kellyfair

Gold Supporter
Bronze Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 29, 2016
4,765
Tampa, FL
Pool Size
7000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Intex Krystal Clear
Scrape all that loose dirt out and get down to solid, undisturbed ground. Then level, and further scrape any high areas.
 

JimR1998

Member
May 16, 2020
10
Southeast PA
It's doable without a pro for sure but it will take patience and will test your resolve. Many folks including myself have done larger areas that were more out of level. I think I worked a 1/2 Saturday and probably 2 hours/day for a week until I was setting up the pool.

You may want to get a flat shovel (edging shovel) and a pick to help you, and a wheelbarrow to cart away the soil. Definitely build the water level. I was about ready to give up before I made that. So quick and easy to use. No need for a laser.

Establish your perimeter + 1-2 feet all around. Get a general idea of where the posts will go and use the lowest spot as the reference height. Move around the perimeter with your water level digging down to that reference height, then chip away at the interior as your edge is established. The interior does not need to be perfectly level or flat especially if you're using foam board. Use the water level to sample random spots throughout until it's pretty good. Once I felt I was close, I setup the top frame of the pool to get the exact locations of the posts and dug in 4x8 solid concrete blocks in those locations. They are around $2/each from Home Depot. Do not use thin ones or they will crack. You want the perimeter to be as level as possible, within 1/2" - 1" ideally.

You should not need a plate compactor and it's good to work if the soil is damp but not soggy or wet. If your yard is always soggy or doesn't drain well you may have some issues with support. I didn't use a tiller and don't think it would have helped.

I used 1" XPS foam since 3/4" was sold out. It's pricey, I paid over $200. I have rocky ground and wanted something that wouldn't let rocks penetrate through. Really I could have used 1/2" probably. I laid it down everywhere including over the blocks and then cut out holes for the posts. Tape and double tape the seams with gorilla tape. They will want to pull apart and you need something very strong and sticky. If they shift your liner will sink in the cracks between your panels and further push them apart. You will be able to re-use the XPS if you take your pool down like we did.

I got a lot of help on here. Look at previous years' messages. DIY leveling the yard is hard work but doing it right gives a good sense of accomplishment. Probably half the pros don't do as good a job as you will.

Post some updated pics and people will guide you along. Good luck.
 

iwillhaveapoolthissummer

Active member
Apr 13, 2021
33
riverside, ca usa
hello everyone I have an update. I ended up renting a sod cutter since i had to take about 1-2 inches of soil in some areas. I really didn't want to break my back. I was able to make a water level and I think I got all areas within 3/4 of an inch. So my next question is. Is that good enough? Should i just make sure my boards that hold up the poles more level? I have some harder areas on my soils it is pretty hard to get the ground completely level. If you look at my pictures you will see what I'm talking about as far as the some areas higher than other. I can fit a finger at most under my level . I really didn't want to bring sand into the house that is why I laid down the 1 inch foam. When walking on the board, I can feel the slight unlevelness in some area. Is this okay?

Couple more questions.

Do the boards that lay under the poles. Do they have to be level with ground or the top of the 1 inch foam?

I used a wide gorilla tape for the boards, Only used one strip. Should i add more tape? its already getting dusty so not sure how well it will stick.

Thank You all for your help

@JimR1998
@kellyfair
@scout123
 

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kellyfair

Gold Supporter
Bronze Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 29, 2016
4,765
Tampa, FL
Pool Size
7000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Intex Krystal Clear
For the areas that show a dip, is that just in the middle of the pool, or where a leg will go? Having a little unevenness in the middle of the pool isn’t a big deal. It just my bug you a little if you are really picky about it.

Is the foam you got the rigid kind? If so, blocks can be level with foam. I think I’d try to tape it down just a bit more, to make sure it doesn’t pull apart. I would also sweep it pretty clean so you don’t have all that debris trapped under liner.
 

iwillhaveapoolthissummer

Active member
Apr 13, 2021
33
riverside, ca usa
For the areas that show a dip, is that just in the middle of the pool, or where a leg will go? Having a little unevenness in the middle of the pool isn’t a big deal. It just my bug you a little if you are really picky about it.

Is the foam you got the rigid kind? If so, blocks can be level with foam. I think I’d try to tape it down just a bit more, to make sure it doesn’t pull apart. I would also sweep it pretty clean so you don’t have all that debris trapped under liner.
i haven't layed down my pavers yet. the perimeter of the pool is more leveled. I think once i know what kind of pavers i'll be using whether wood or cement. I should be able to level those a little better with my water level. I got the foamular 250 1 inch foam. I pretty sure it says rigid on the sheets.

anyone have any ideas as to what kind of blocks i should use for under the legs. I'm not able to find 16x4x16. plus that are kind of expensive. I'm considering other options. its an oval pool. So i'm reading this is an important for support.
 

zea3

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2009
13,807
Houston, Texas
Whatever you use should be 4" thick and wide enough to completely support the upright without the edges extending over the side of the block. You can put two blocks side by side if needed to support the upright.
 

charliej

Well-known member
Jun 19, 2017
124
Siloam Springs, Ar
Hi all, I just wanted to thank you all in advance for all your help. I seemed to have found a great group.

I'm installing a 22x12 bestway oval pool from costco. I hope to do this myself without hiring professionals. I'm on a budget :)

A couple weeks ago I broke ground with a tiller on my yard. I had grass and weeds growing throughout the yard so I decided to rent a big tiller and go at it. If you look at my pictures. Sides 3 & 4 have a higher slope than 1 & 2 , so I dug a little deeper.

Some concerns. I removed about 3 inches from sides 3&4 and about 1 inch from 1&2 . Now my ground is kind of soft and i'm concerned the top soil is going to sink. I tried to level the best I can using a 2x4 and scraping the top from the highest sides and going down. I put the level on top of the 2x4 and it seems somewhat leveled and someone eye leveled. ( I know thats not good enough) . I'm considering making a water level with the tube and bucket I saw someone use on youtube. If someone thinks i should rent a laser level please let me know. Just know my wife isn't gonna be happy with me spending more money haha.

Now that the ground is soft in all areas, some softer than others, do i have to rent that machine that stomps the ground ( a plate compactor)? Also should i be watering the soil so it sinks more? Should I do this before leveling it? Any and all help will be appreciated.

I no longer have the tiller and I'm hoping I no longer need it. (since its been 2 weeks. My grass is starting to grow back please see pictures. Does anyone know How I can stop grass and weeds from growing naturally ( I really don't want to use weed killers because i have kids and and dogs and food growing near by. )

UPDATE - I WILL NOT BE USING SAND ( I hope) - I'M RESEARCHING FOAM BASE - can a foam base be done without the use of sand. My soil is failry soft without any big chunks or rocks

If you all notice i did leave some soil on the perimeter of my rectangle i dug up in case i need it to fill some more spots for leveling. Right the my rectangle is about 15 feet by 28 feet. I'm hoping that is enough room.

Where do I go from here? I know i need to level this thing more, Just don't know if I should try leveling the soil while its soft or I should harden it by adding a bunch of water or renting the plate compactor.


Any help would be appreciated. I know its a lot of questions. I don't want to mess this up. I over think things but I know this is important. Thanks again

Hi all, I just wanted to thank you all in advance for all your help. I seemed to have found a great group.

I'm installing a 22x12 bestway oval pool from costco. I hope to do this myself without hiring professionals. I'm on a budget :)

A couple weeks ago I broke ground with a tiller on my yard. I had grass and weeds growing throughout the yard so I decided to rent a big tiller and go at it. If you look at my pictures. Sides 3 & 4 have a higher slope than 1 & 2 , so I dug a little deeper.

Some concerns. I removed about 3 inches from sides 3&4 and about 1 inch from 1&2 . Now my ground is kind of soft and i'm concerned the top soil is going to sink. I tried to level the best I can using a 2x4 and scraping the top from the highest sides and going down. I put the level on top of the 2x4 and it seems somewhat leveled and someone eye leveled. ( I know thats not good enough) . I'm considering making a water level with the tube and bucket I saw someone use on youtube. If someone thinks i should rent a laser level please let me know. Just know my wife isn't gonna be happy with me spending more money haha.

Now that the ground is soft in all areas, some softer than others, do i have to rent that machine that stomps the ground ( a plate compactor)? Also should i be watering the soil so it sinks more? Should I do this before leveling it? Any and all help will be appreciated.

I no longer have the tiller and I'm hoping I no longer need it. (since its been 2 weeks. My grass is starting to grow back please see pictures. Does anyone know How I can stop grass and weeds from growing naturally ( I really don't want to use weed killers because i have kids and and dogs and food growing near by. )

UPDATE - I WILL NOT BE USING SAND ( I hope) - I'M RESEARCHING FOAM BASE - can a foam base be done without the use of sand. My soil is failry soft without any big chunks or rocks

If you all notice i did leave some soil on the perimeter of my rectangle i dug up in case i need it to fill some more spots for leveling. Right the my rectangle is about 15 feet by 28 feet. I'm hoping that is enough room.

Where do I go from here? I know i need to level this thing more, Just don't know if I should try leveling the soil while its soft or I should harden it by adding a bunch of water or renting the plate compactor.


Any help would be appreciated. I know its a lot of questions. I don't want to mess this up. I over think things but I know this is important. Thanks again
contractor grade bisquine will keep grass from growing and will kill any weeds/grass already started.
 

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