Swimming Pool Solutions for a Sloped Backyard

If you’re reading this, chances are your backyard presents some challenges where installing a pool is concerned. Many homeowners don’t have a flat lot; this can add complexities to a pool project for customers and contractors alike. At Australian Outdoor Living, we want you to know there are options available when installing a pool on a sloped block.

Many homeowners enter into their pool project trusting their pool contractor knows what will look good in their yard. We think it’s best you ask all your questions up front. If you’re unsure what the final result of your pool will be, don’t be afraid to ask questions for clarity. The good news is, managing a sloped lot isn’t difficult; it simply requires proper planning and design. There are two basic solutions for installing pools on sloped blocks: retaining walls or site work.

retainer wall for poolPhoto credit: Homeland Guild

Retaining Walls

Commonly used around homes and businesses, retaining walls are made of solid materials like stone, brick, interlocking block, or wood. Below are some of the most commonly used materials and their advantages:

  • Interlocking concrete block – Attractive and easy to install, interlocking block is the most popular material used around swimming pools. Construction involves dry stacking blocks to create a single interlocked segment of retaining wall. Interlocking block walls can be designed around any free-form pool. Plus the blocks are available in a wide variety of colours, shapes and sizes.
  • Natural stone or cinder block – Natural stone, brick or cinder block are common materials for retaining walls. This type of retaining wall is filled with grout or concrete and reinforced with rebar. Constructing natural stone walls tends to take longer since the work requires greater detail. Natural stone retaining walls are available in a variety of veneers; common choices are brick, natural stone, and parging (finishing with a coat of mortar).
  • Turndown slab – This type of retaining wall is also referred to as a Monolithic pour. The wall is a concrete slab that remains level, getting thicker as it moves out into the lot. The wall will be thickest at the lowest area of the yard. Compared to other options, turndown slabs are inexpensive and easy to install. They look especially attractive with stamped concrete, which can add texture to the side of the concrete. Turndown slabs can curve to follow the contours of any pool, and blend seamlessly with concrete patios.
  • Wood – This is the most budget-friendly type of retaining wall. Wood retaining walls can be made with landscaped timbers, railroad ties, 6×6 planks, or virtually any type of treated lumber. If the retaining wall is high, it may require a “tie-back” type of reinforcement on the hillside. This type of wall can be easily dressed up with planting beds or bench seats. To install a wood retaining wall, you’ll need a run with straight angles.

Site Work

If your block has enough space, it may be possible to build up the lower side of the yard to make the pool area flat. The most common approach is to build up this area with excavated dirt. The amount of dirt you need to create an acceptable degree of slope will depend on the distance your patio extends into the yard as well as the amount of flat ground outside the patio. While using dirt from the pool excavation is a common method, you should ensure only acceptable material is used, and is compacted properly. This is perhaps the biggest error made by pool contractors, so proceed with caution if you have significant building up to do on your lot. The purpose of site work is to achieve a degree of slope that:

  • Drains well
  • Can be maintained easily, and
  • Doesn’t conflict with yard elements like swing sets, sheds, etc.

With site work, it’s important to remember you’re the one who will live with, care for, and look at the final product. Try to work with your yard instead of against it. If you’re unhappy with the final result, you’ll face extra hassle and expense to haul in more dirt to decrease the slope further. Ask your pool contractor to show you exactly how the new yard will look so you know what to expect.

We hope you better understand the intricacies of managing a pool installation on a sloped lot. Remember to be very clear with your pool contractor about how you want your yard to ultimately look, and don’t assume they understand your needs. Armed with the above information, you should be able to confidently convey your expectations for your finished pool project and have a result you’ll want to show off to all your family and friends!

If you’re thinking of installing a pool in your backyard, contact AOL Pool Shop to find out how to get the best pool result out of your property.

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