Have you considered creating a lovely backyard garden from your old, unwanted swimming pool?
It sounds like a big ordeal, you say? It’s not bad if you’re a handy do-it-yourselfer. If you’d rather not do the work yourself, you can always hire a contractor to handle the heavy lifting.
If your pool is unwanted or in need of costly repairs, this is the perfect renovation project for you. And the results will provide you with a beautiful garden that you can enjoy for many summers to come.
Here is what you need to know about turning your old in-ground pool into a true gardener’s Shangri-La.
Like any major project, your pool-to-garden conversion depends on proper planning and a solid strategy. Although your yard may have special or unique needs, you can expect to need the following list of materials and tools, if you plan to do the work yourself.
- Fill dirt
- Garden plans
- Mechanical tamper
- Plants of your choice
You will also need fill dirt, garden and topsoil, as well as a shovels, wheelbarrows and a crew of folks with strong backs.
Or, you can do what many homeowners do, and hire a contractor. You may want to talk with a landscape designer or architect if you need advice or help with design and layout ideas.
To Demo First, Or Not?
In many cases, homeowners simply drain the pool, drill drainage holes through the bottom, and add fill materials. As an alternative, you can have your contractor break down the pool’s walls and use the demolished materials as the start of the fill process.
The right move here depends largely on the soil drainage in your area, local building codes and your budget. Let’s assume for now that you’ll be doing the fill yourself.
How to Fill
Coarse fill dirt is the best option for the bottom of the hole.
This type of fill dirt has pieces of construction debris in it (masonry, large stones, etc.) and that will help to keep the hole from sinking as it settles. It will also help improve drainage.
Fill your pool about three-fourths of the way up with the coarse stuff, more if your pool was deep enough for diving.
If you plan to plant trees, use less coarse fill because their deep roots require a larger layer of fine quality soil. Flowers and grasses will do just fine with a couple of feet of good soil.
On top of the coarse fill soil, add a layer of gravel. This also helps improve drainage and to fills out any irregularities.
Next, use a mechanical tamper to tamp down the fill dirt and gravel until it’s firm and compact. It should feel stable and not shift or depress when you walk on top of it.
Now, use two to three feet of good quality soil, followed by a nice layer of topsoil on to finish. Now, you’re ready to plant!
A Final Word of Warning
This is a big project and we want to make sure you stay all nice and legal-like.
Before starting your project, check with your local building department to see if you need a building or demolition permit. Local zoning and planning ordinances may have something to say about filling in your pool.
It’s also a good idea to hire an inspector or engineer to check your pool for any potential structural issues. They may also provide a list of recommendations for filling the pool in correctly. And, of course, always use the utmost caution when working with large amounts of dirt and heavy machinery.
We want to be sure you’re able to enjoy your new garden for years to come!
Millcreek Gardens in Salt Lake City has all the plants, gardening supplies and helpful advice you’ll ever need for your landscape and garden. From annual flowering plants to large shade trees, visit us today to get started on your backyard garden project.