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How to Plan the Pool Excavation and Ground Works

This article is about the landscaping that surrounds and provides the setting for an in-ground swimming pool. The first article identified the factors that affect pool location and size and the second the pool and garden levels. This article is about the earthworks and pool excavation and how to plan them.

There are always two fundamental options for the earth that arises from the excavation for an in-ground swimming pool. It can be used around the site for landscaping or it can be carted off-site. Sometimes a bit of each is the best answer. The second article in this series “The Design Process” describes how to ascertain the optimum solution to this question.

It is nearly always better to try and use all the material in your garden for several reasons:-

It is cheaper than carting it away
Even rocks and sub-soil have some value and if they are carted off site you are giving them away
Well planned changes of level can make a garden and its pool a lot more interesting and attractive.

It is very important to ensure that the whole area where the excavation arisings are spread is covered by top-soil and not sub-soil so that grass seeded on it can take root and grow.

If you are going to keep all the excavation arisings the best way to do the earthworks is to ensure that the pool excavation is carried out using the following steps.

Step 1 - Strip off the topsoil from, the pool excavation area, the paved area around the pool and the area where the excavation subsoil is to be placed

Step 2 – Stockpile the topsoil and leave it there while the pool is being built

Step 3 - Spread and level the sub-soil from the pool excavation

Step 4 – Spread and level the top-soil over the previously leveled sub-soil

So after the topsoil is stripped it needs to be stockpiled somewhere out of the way so that it can be replaced over the whole landscaped area at the very end of the whole pool construction process. The pool excavation subsoil can often then be dug and placed immediately in its final position without double handling it. If the deposition area is large double or even treble handling will inevitably be necessary.

If you have a lot of rocks in the sub-soil they will need to be separated out so that they do not eventually wreck your lawnmower. This is dealt with in more detail in my article on “Carrying out the Earthworks”. The rocks can be used to form very attractive banks or even retaining walls if your site has lots of level changes.

The most important aspect of this whole process is that the spreading of both sub-soil and topsoil must be carried out during a dry period. This means that if you have had a lot of rain leave the job until at least a week of dry weather has passed. If the top soil or sub-soil is sodden you will just be wasting your time because the machinery will just sink into it and leave deep tracks.

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