Need info on building a retaining wall for above ground pool


New member
Jun 3, 2008
SE Virginia
Last summer I bought a 24' round AG pool & hired an idiot, whoops, Installer to put it up. He did not do it correctly. My yard slopes and although he did dig the high end out some, he tried to use the fill dirt to raise the lower end up. Of course, once there was water in the pool the low end sank. I had him come back & he added some concrete pavers to the lower end & raised it up some but it just continued to sink through the summer. All season I had to keep adding water to the pool to the tip top of the low end so that it would reach the skimmer which was on the high end. This year I took the pool down to level it. I don't have the money to pay for another pool installer. I have had a couple of estimates & they range from $1,000-$1,700. I want to do it myself & I know that I am going to need a retaining wall on the low end of the yard. I really only need a wall about 12" high to level the pool. Does anyone have any experience with this? It looks like they sell interlocking blocks to create a retaining wall. Will these support the added water weight? How deep do I need to bury the bottom of the wall to get proper support. Can I use a sock pipe to reduce water pressure?





LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2007
Northern NJ
I can only answer a small portion of this. We are having a retaining wall built in our backyard. I am sure it is dependent on the size of the blocks. We are using pavers that are 4"H. For that size block, the instructions are for walls 1' or less, the first course (block) should be partially buried. For walls higher than 1', the entire first course should be buried.

As far as the levelling is concerned, it sounds like you are trying to build up the low end. If so, that is not the way to go. You have to dig out the high end to make it level with the low end.


New member
Jun 3, 2008
SE Virginia
I am trying to build up the low end. After the original install we had a deck built to the pool from the house (when it was only a couple of inches off). If I dig the high end out (how it should have been done in the beginning) the edge of the pool will be about 6"-8" lower than the deck. My working theory FWIW :-D is that I will use a highly compactable gravel (like #5) & rent a plate compactor & compact as I go. Then I will add the sand on top of that & use a gorilla pad on the sand. I was also thinking that I would switch the location of the filter/skimmer so that if it sinks again at least the water will be heading towards the skimmer this time. My biggest problem was really not that the pool wasn't level, it was that the water would not reach the skimmer. My pump never even reached the #1 on the gauge. I barely had enough pressure to vacuum & my aquabug wouldn't run. I don't know how out of level it has to be before it is a safety concern--it was at least 6" lower on the bottom end before I took it down.


LifeTime Supporter
May 22, 2007
Toms River, NJ
Twelve inches is quite allot. A plate compactor only compacts the top couple of inches. For compacting ground I ran soaker hoses around the pool before the deck was poured, about 3 weeks. As the soil would settle I would back fill and continue with soaker hoses. Had to stay on top of backfilling and turning on and off soakers. Let it dry out for a week and ended up very solid.


Well-known member
Jan 31, 2008
A 12" high retaining wall should be relatively easy with blocks. This is mainly to prevent erosion of fill material. But you got to get a proper compacting. Your suggested material should be fine but you got to compact over a few layers. I would suggest fill to 4 - 5" and compact and soaking. Repeat till you get your desired level. Fill and compact shoule be done after your retaining wall is completed.


LifeTime Supporter
I agree that a 12" wall will be easy to construct. Any number of ways, but a gravity wall (Keystone or equal) works wekk/looks good. I'm not a fan of the small 'garden wall' blocks with the lip on the back, but even they will work for 12". I usually dig down at least 1 block high -- usually about 1.5 blocks deep. I'll put a bed of gravel in the trench. This will help you level the first course. If you are super-anal with the first course, the rest will be very easy.

As for the fill compacting, it can be done with soil, but must be the correct wetness. It can be pretty wet, but should NOT be pumping (step on it and it'll rise next to your foot). Put it down in small lifts.

To keep the pool compressive forses off of the wall, make sure the back of the wall is at least 2 feet away for each foot of retaining.