Sizing an Above Ground Pool

Calendar icon
Folder icon
Swimming Pools

Sizing an Above-ground Pool for Your Yard

Some background.

This summer will mark an anniversary for me. Fifty-years ago, I built my first above-ground pool. It was a summer job while in college, and I was living in New Jersey, working with my brother. He had started an installation company several years before. I worked with him for three-summers, building a couple hundred pools. Upon graduation, I moved to Cincinnati and started my own company. I approached the owners of Eastgate Pools, gave them my background and credentials, then ultimately became their sole builder. Roughly two-thousand pools later, I made the move inside and went from building pools to selling them.

You may correctly reach two conclusions from the above. Firstly, I am no longer young. A little grumpy at times, too. Secondly, I know how to help select the right sized pool for a specific yard condition.

Measuring your yard.

It’s easy to do. You need two items: a wind-up tape measure and a screwdriver. It also helps to know the basic pool sizes. Round pools are sized by their diameter. Do you remember your high school geometry class? The diameter is the width at the pool’s widest point. Here’s a little help.

The most common sizes are 15-ft, 18-ft, 20 or 21-ft, 24-ft, 27 or 28-ft, 30-ft, and 33-ft. To see which will fit best is simple.

Picture your pool in your mind and think where you want the center of the pool. The tape measure should have a loop in the end. Slide the screwdriver through that loop, then stake it in the ground at this assumed center point. Then stretch the tape out to one-half of the desired pool size. This is the radius. A 24-ft pool will have a 12-ft radius. Keep the tape taut and walk a circle. This is where the edge of the pool will be. However, builders need a little extra room around the pool to work and for pool components attached outside the wall. Figure a bare minimum of an extra foot needed all the way around. That makes the working radius 13-ft. Now, re-walk the circle and get an idea of what area will need excavated. See if you like your potential location and adjust accordingly, if not.

“I’m thinking about an oval pool.”

Measuring needed space for oval pools is a little trickier. The overall length needed is easy. Just add a minimum of two to four feet for the length. Side measurement is a little trickier. Some models have side buttresses that add as much as four to six feet of needed space, per side. For example, a 15-ft wide oval pool could require a minimum of 23-ft, plus over-dig. Some other models are buttressless and require narrower space.

Whether you go with round or oval, once you have the desired location, mark the pool boundary. Most people use little red flags or spray paint. There you have your location. Well, maybe not just yet?

Room to work.

Mistake #1. You have a slope in the yard. Where the pool goes into the hillside, the builder may need more space to work. Plus, with severe slopes, you may need a retaining wall to keep the hillside away from the pool. This could require a four-foot or greater over-dig into the hillside. Now, do a little remeasuring on that hillside measurement. If it seems excessive, the situation might be remedied by going to a slightly smaller pool size.

An alternative.

If you have a large slope, you may want to consider a Sensation Pool from Eastgate Pools. This is a hybrid pool that can go on-ground, partly in-ground, or almost all the way in the ground. Most significantly, due to its unique construction, it requires no outside retaining wall. Dirt can be piled against the wall to just a couple inches from the top. It can save you the expense of a retaining wall and minimize the over-dig. It also provides space for a lot of dirt to be backfilled around the pool.

Speaking of dirt…

Mistake #2. What about the dirt? There can be a little or a lot, but there needs to be some place to put it. I know of no above-ground builder in the Midwest or East Coast that removes the dirt. That means it stays as yours. It’s usually not an issue. Most people can use dirt or know of someone that can and is happy to take it, But, when we excavate, we must have somewhere close to the pool to stack it. If you have a sloped yard, consider a smaller pool to minimize the amount of dirt that needs addressed.

Know your zoning rules.

Mistake #3. Not knowing where your pool can go can be a big issue. Many towns, townships, or communities have regulations that require you to keep a minimum distance from property lines. This might affect your ‘walking’ circle’ pool location. These regs vary greatly, so check your local zoning statues for your applicable requirements.

Look up! Pools cannot go underneath overhead power lines. Zoning entities have other rules about how far pools must be from direct-drop distances. Just check it out.

In summary.

Sounds…difficult? Not really. The secret is to do a little research on your local zoning requirements and understand pool sizing. The great majority of installations go off without a hitch, with happy pool-owners enjoying years of fun in their pool. Understanding the selection process just makes life easier. And finally, our professional pool experts are glad to help guide you through the selection process.