What You Need To Know Before You Fill In A Swimming Pool  

Kevin McLaughlin
Updated on

Your kids have outgrown the pool; life is now super hectic and frequently tending to your pool is not at the top of the list. You are thinking of backfilling your pool. That’s understandable. A pool can sometimes grow to be more of a con than a pro. In addition, they also take an ample yard space that you could have used in other unique ways. So how do you go about removing a pool? That’s the question we will answer today.

Pool demolition is relatively not a simple DIY project where you dump dirt in a pool, and the project is complete. A swimming pool is an in-ground construction, so the ground can easily cave in when not filled correctly.

How does one undertake a proper demolition of a pool?

How you approach this depends on the local regulations in place and your plan for the yard area after demolition. Proper pool destruction can be done in two ways: A partial demolition approach or a complete pool demolition approach.

1.   A Partial Demolition Approach

This method is the least expensive and less time-consuming approach, but it’s not preferred since it limits the area’s plans. One will only use it for landscaping purposes or for building a gazebo or similar structures. This is because the ground is not solid enough to bear the weight and stress of a permanent building structure. Hence in some areas, there would be restrictions that don’t allow one to use this approach.

The process starts by one draining the pool and disconnecting any utility present. Followed by punching at least 20 large holes in the bottom of the pool to ensure rainwater can drain through them. Then, 16-36 inches of the pool rim is broken up, and the debris is used to fill the empty pool. If the pool rim is made of concrete rubble, you must add a layer of geotextile filter fabric over the rubble before adding dirt. This will help avoid settling. However, if your pool rim is fiberglass or vinyl, you can’t reuse the material as your fill. The remaining pool cavity is filled with dirt (gravel, sand, and soil). The materials are then compacted at various stages for stability purposes. Good quality topsoil is used at the top part and smoothed over to blend well with the rest of the area.

2.   Complete Pool Demolition Approach

This approach is more costly and time-consuming, but one benefits by being able to build a permanent structure on site. This approach entails entirely breaking the entire pool structure and framework. First, drain the water and disconnect any utilities connected to the pool. Then break concrete as the whole shell of the pool and ensure all the debris is removed. Next, backfill the hole with dirt (gravel, sand, and fine soil) while periodically compacting the soil. If you plan to build over the area, you will need a geotechnical soils engineer to oversee the backfill and test the compaction above 90%. And if this is the case, compact the soil to the top. Only add topsoil if the area is being used for landscaping purposes.

The Types Of Backfill Material Used During Pool Demolition


Dirt is the best material for pool removal backfilling. It is a mixture of dirt, tailings, and topsoil, with the preferred mix being 80% dirt and tailings and 20% topsoil. Though, topsoil is only used for the top 6 inches when backfilling a pool cavity during demolition because it contains organic materials that will lead to settling.


Gravel is not similar to sand or dirt. It is made of stones. This is great for backfilling a pool as it provides instant compaction and is more efficient when it comes to drainage as it doesn’t absorb water. When poured, gravel immediately settles. You will need to put a layer of geotextile filter fabric over the gravel when backfilling before adding topsoil to stop mixing the two materials and keep the topsoil on top.


Sand is self-compacting; hence it’s also an excellent material for backfilling during a pool demolition since you do not need to compact it or mix it with concrete.


Remember, not all dirt and soil are created equal, and you want to make sure that the fill dirt you buy will work in the way you need it to. If you need a lot of dirt for specific construction works, look into Dirt Match.

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