How to Level an Above-Ground Pool Without Digging

An above-ground pool in a backyard

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Project Overview
  • Working Time: 1 - 3 hrs
  • Total Time: 1 - 3 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10

You just bought an above-ground pool and have the spot picked out for and want to start setting it up, only one problem: the ground is uneven. In most cases it is recommended to remove all vegetation on the ground (i.e. grass, groundcovers, etc.) to limit the chaxxnce of a puncture in the liner over time, and to dig out the high spots. But if you don't want to tear up your yard, you want to know how to level an above-ground pool without digging.

Establishing a level ground for an above-ground pool is very important, otherwise you risk a collapse so remember to be patient and don’t be afraid to take your time. Here's how to level the ground for an above-ground pool without digging.

Before You Begin

Make sure that you have all required tools and supplies to complete leveling the ground. You will want to make sure that the area is clear of debris and rocks and that all of your material is already onsite before starting. The longer the ground is left exposed after leveling, the greater chance something such as a rainstorm can throw it out of level again, so you should only start this project if you're ready to assemble the pool immediately after.

Safety Concerns

It is very important for a pool to be level. If you're unsure at all about any of the steps along the way in the process, double check your work. Once the pool is up it is much harder to correct uneven ground underneath and the risk of collapse increases immensely.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Tape measure
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Level
  • Hammer
  • Rake


  • Sand
  • 2x4 8-foot board
  • Duct tape
  • Metal rod


  1. Mark and Clear the Pool's Future Location

    Marking out the pool location with the help of a tape measure and some items to indicate the perimeter. This will give you an approximate area of where you need to level. Remove any loose rocks or twigs that are present within that space.

  2. Pour the Sand Base

    Take your sand and place it inside the designated pool area. Note that since you are not digging out any high spots, the sand will have to be higher than the highest piece of ground by a few inches. Generally a good sand base is 2 to 4 inches deep to raise the pool above any potential object that could puncture the liner.

  3. Create and Install the Level

    Construct a large level to determine exactly how level or unlevel the ground is.

    • Drill a hole through the narrower sides of one end of the 2x4. If done on the correct side, the hole should be approximately 3.5 inches deep (a 2x4 is 3.5 inches wide, not 4 inches as the name would indicate).
    • Duct tape your level onto the center of the wide side of the 2x4 (the side that that does not have the hole drilled in it). Tape it in a way that you can still see the results of the level from the end of the 2x4.
    • At the center of the location of the pool, hammer the metal rod through the hole of the 2x4 and into the ground. If the metal rod doesn't fit through the hole you drilled, drill a large hole.
  4. Grade the Sand

    Now that you have put the sand down and your level device assembled, it's time to grade the sand. Standing on the outside of your sand pile, slowly drag the 2x4 across the sand, keeping an eye on the level's bubble that it remains perfectly centered and that no low spots develop under the 2x4. (Because one end of the 2x4 has a metal rod going through it vertically, you'll end up walking in a circle around the sand.)

  5. Fix Any High or Low Spots

    When you hit a high or low spot in the sand, take your rake and gently smooth it out, pushing excess sand in front of the 2x4 and adding sand to the low spots when needed.

  6. Circle the Sand Pile Until It's Level

    Carry the 2x4 around the sand pile several times until you can walk around one time without having to adjust the sand. Watch the level's bubble as you walk to be sure it really is level. When you're finished, the sand base should be 2 to 4 inches tall. If your base is shorter than that, add more sand and repeat the grading process.

When to Call a Professional

If you are having trouble assembling the 2x4, notice excessive amounts of objects that can puncture the liner such as glass, rocks, etc., or the ground is too uneven to level, as would be the case with a hillside or steep slope, call a professional to level the ground for you. It is always better not take a chance on assembling a pool on an uneven surface for risk of failure and collapse.