Unearthing Facts: Can Above-Ground Pools Partially Buried?

Let’s face it; an above-ground pool can look like it’s the in-ground pool’s poor relation. Aesthetically, these pools are not as pleasing to the eye. But if that’s what you have, you’re probably considering ways to make it look less like a box sitting on your lawn and fit into the landscaping of your garden. You might well wonder if above-ground pools can be partially buried.

Some above-ground pools can be partially buried, but this requires careful planning. Their design does not allow them to withstand the pressure against the pool walls and can easily collapse if this is not done correctly. These pools should only be buried 2-2.5 feet below ground level.

Understand essential steps to prepare your above ground pool area.

Partial burying of an above-ground pool is feasible with careful planning and adherence to the manufacturer’s guidelines. It can enhance visual appeal and stability, but there are several factors that pool owners should consider before embarking on this installation to ensure structural integrity, proper drainage, and accessibility for pool maintenance.

Partially Burying An Above-Ground Pool

Above-ground pools are designed to rest entirely above the ground on a sturdy structure, such as a metal or resin frame. Their design requires them to withstand the pressure of water against the pool walls, but not pressure from outside the walls from soil packed against them.

10 Planning Tips For Partially Submerging Your Pool

If you’re planning to drop your pool into the ground part-way, there are several factors you should consider before you begin your modifications.

1. Before you start digging up your backyard to put your above-ground pool into the ground, check the pool manufacturer’s manual. The manufacturer might not recommend or permit the partial burial of the pool. If you go ahead regardless, you will nullify the warranty on your pool.

Some above-ground pools have reinforced walls and frames which allow for partial burial. In this case, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions to accomplish the task.

2. Ensuring proper drainage becomes paramount when burying an above-ground pool. Adequate drainage prevents water from accumulating around the pool’s structure, which could lead to damage, corrosion, or undermining of the pool walls. Ensure that you position the pool in an area that supports natural drainage, or you may need to construct a drainage system to redirect runoff.

3. Above-ground pools get assembled on-site, so when you dig the hole for your pool, you will have to allow an extra 1.5 – 2 feet for this purpose. This means you will have to backfill the area or build a retaining wall once you’ve set up your swimming pool. You can’t leave the trench open, or you will have a moat around the pool when it rains, which could damage the pool.

Although you may have dug out a mountain of soil to put your pool below ground level, you can only use this to backfill the area if it’s the kind that will pack together very tightly. If not, you should build your retaining wall with a slurry mix, which is a softer type of concrete mix. It should be about 4 inches thick.

If you don’t build that retaining wall or have tightly packed soil, your pool can cave in if you have to drain it to replace the liner or for any other reason.

4. Remember to fill the pool with water before backfilling the trench behind it. If you reverse the order, the sand will cause the walls to cave in, ruining your pool.

Related:  Know the risks: can your pool collapse without water?

5. If you’re setting up your pool for the first time, allow it to stand for about 48 hours after filling it before backfilling or building the retainer wall. If there’s a leak due to a manufacturing fault, you will pick it up quickly.

6. Ensure all vital components, such as skimmers, return jets, and equipment access points, are easily accessible for regular maintenance and repairs. It’s essential to leave enough space for easy access to the filtration system, electrical connections, and plumbing lines in case any complications arise.

7. Even though your above-ground pool is now only partially buried, laws in most states will require you to put a fence around it for child safety or to prevent unwanted entry.

8. Some types of above-ground pools are not suitable for partial burial. If they are not strongly resistant to corrosion or of good quality, they will not last long in the ground. The minerals in the soil will quickly eat away at flimsy frames or bad-quality liners, radically reducing the life of your pool.

9. Oval-shaped pools are less suitable for partial burying—a principle borrowed from Roman architecture. The Romans discovered that arches provided more support than regular-shaped doorways. However, the straight sides of an oval pool negate this benefit.

While a round pool has equal resistance to the pressure from the dirt outside the pool, an oval pool has excellent resistance only at the two ends, but the straight sides make it vulnerable to caving in from outside pressure. Pool experts discourage sinking oval-shaped pools for this reason.

10. To give your pool extra protection against rust, you can clad it in landscape material or plastic.

Related: Saltwater or chlorine? Explore your pool options.

The Benefits Of Partially Burying An Above-Ground Pool

With so many considerations for putting your above-ground pool a couple of feet below surface level, you might wonder if this venture has any benefits. Here are a few reasons that might convince you to try it.

  • It can enhance the aesthetic appeal and integration with the surrounding landscape.
  • If it’s correctly installed and supported, partial burial can provide added stability to the pool structure.
  • A slightly sunken pool can also provide privacy and act as a windbreak, improving your swimming environment.


Above-ground pools are not designed to be buried in the ground or to withstand the pressure of tons of sand from the outside. However, with careful planning and ensuring the area is adequately prepared to compensate for these factors, you can partially submerge your above-ground pool successfully without compromising its lifespan too much. Take the plunge and try it!

Read more: Discover winter care tips for your above-ground pool.