Design of the Pool Landscaping

This page is about the elemental landscaping that surrounds and provides the setting for an in-ground swimming pool.

It describes the quite complex process of designing the pool levels so that the finished pool looks right and is economic to construct.

The pool level is defined as the level of the top of the coping stones that sit on the top of the pool walls that retain water.

The design process consists of quite a few steps:-

(1) Identify the levels of all the items that will impact on the pool level and put them down on a sketch
(2) Add the pool and the paving around it to the sketch
(3) Guess-timate the pool level
(4) Work out the gradients across the garden and mark the location of any drains that are required
(5) Calculate the volume of soil that will be produced if the pool is built at the guess-timate level
(6) Work out the fill volumes that will be needed for the fill areas
(7) If cut does not equal fill re-guess and carry out steps 3,4 and 5 again
(8) Repeat until you have a solution that works

Carry out the Level Survey

So the first thing to do is to identify all the levels that will affect the decision process. The leveling can be carried out with a long straight edge and a spirit level or a proper surveyors “dumpy” level. Luckily, laser levels can now be hired quite cheaply, allowing a one man job. When you have got the equipment and are sure that you know how to use it accurately plot the levels of the garden area and include the level of every garden element that will remain after the pool has been installed.

This will include such things as paths, steps into the house, manhole covers, door thresholds, trees (adjacent ground level) etc. A good tip is to always select one particular fixed point as your reference level and give this an arbitrary level such as +10 metres – then all the other relative levels will be positive numbers – unless something is more than 10 metres below the reference level.

Calculate swimming pool Cut and Fill Volumes

When you have identified all these levels guesstimate the top of the pool wall level and see whether you can make the landscaping contours work so that you do not have slopes that are too steep to mow the grass on (steeper than 1 in 3 generally) and that everything slopes away from the pool.

You will often find that this results in the hard paving around the pool shedding water towards the house or garage and this can easily cause rising damp in the walls. You then have to bite the bullet and install a drain to catch the rainwater and redirect it elsewhere.

When you have a scheme that works you then need to calculate the volume of top-soil and subsoil that will be produced by the excavation for the pool. Allow for the fact that the volume will increase by 10% after excavation and re-compaction and see whether the cut and fill balances. If it does not change the pool top level and try again. If it still does not balance then you may have to export the surplus or import more fill