Sunday, May 16, 2021

Setting Up Our Pool from Start to Finish Including Costs

I had an internal debate about whether it was good to keep posting about my new pool, especially since there are probably so many readers who are struggling and can't afford a pool and this just might make them jealous. But then I reminded myself that my posting this might show people that it's more affordable than they thought. After all, I only even considered a pool after I saw a frugal friend post about hers, and I realized it actually was something doable, and not just for rich people.

Getting our yard ready for our pool was a not so simple process, and I posted about it on Facebook and people told me I should make it into a blog post. So here it is. I know I already wrote some of it in this post, but it didn't give the complete picture, so pardon me for any repetition. 

The first step, obviously, was ordering the pool. But to do that, I first needed to measure the space available and find a pool that fit those dimensions and was as deep as I wanted. To be honest, easier said than done. But once I found that and ordered it, there were still many more steps. Some people hire services to build and set up their pool, and/or to get the place ready for the pool, but I didn't do any of that. I paid for the pool and I paid for equipment, but all the work was done by myself and my kids. 

To get the yard ready we first had to take down our old pool and move the trampoline to our front yard.  To move the trampoline we needed to carry it over the neighbor's fence and through their yard because it was too big to fit through our house whole and I didn't want to have to dismantle the trampoline entirely. 
We then took off all the garbage my dog decided to steal from the garbage can and put outside. Unfortunately there was far too much of this because we couldn't access the area easily because of the pool to clean it up.

At this point we got a delivery of 2 tons of dirt, delivered by crane, to the back yard.

Then we had to pull up the fake grass. We set it aside for the time being, because we couldn't deal with it yet.  

Removing the weeds from the yard was probably the hardest part because our weeds were gigantic. I literally have never seen mallow plants grow to look like trees before. They were taller than my kids' heads and had stalks that looked more like tree trunks than stems. They were really hard too, and literally felt like wood. We pulled out what we could, but this was a lot of exhausting work. What we couldn't pull out we cut with knives but only serrated ones worked because we needed to saw them. Then we used shovels to dig out the roots. This took a few days because of how exhausting it was, but eventually we finished.

Those bags? That's just a fraction of the weeds we pulled out.

Since we would be putting down the fake grass again I needed to clean that off, so I hung it over our railing and swept off what I could and then beat it with a broom as you would a rug to get off the rest of it. This also got it out of the way, which was important for the next step.

Now it was time to spread out the dirt from the sacks. Only it wasn't like we could just dump them out- these are one ton, mind you. We couldn't even drag them. We tried taking dirt out via buckets and shovels but it was a lot of work and I felt we were getting nowhere. Then I had the idea to just cut the sacks so the dirt could pour out of be raked out and that was a much better idea.

My son Lee and I (and occasionally Anneliese) raked the dirt over the ground, making sure to fill in holes and ditches. The edges of the yard had some deep holes, which we'd tried to fill in with large stones, to be able to hold up the pool, but not only did these end up ripping the pool, they ended up getting even deeper because of the weight of the pool's leg on it. So we removed the rocks and filled it with dirt. We then tried to make sure the entire yard was covered in new dirt, and that the dirt was entirely level. This wasn't so easy to do because it's not like we could just use a level on the ground, but we eyeballed it and did it as well as we could. If it wasn't entirely level the water in the pool wouldn't be level and we couldn't get the water as deep as the pool allowed. We also removed any small stones we saw within the dirt.

Then we lay out the synthetic grass, but it was windy. Since we aren't getting our synthetic grass professionally installed we needed to do something to stop it from being blown away by the wind. So we temporarily held down the edges with large rocks and then poured water over it, because this turns the dirt under it to a sort of glue and attaches the synthetic grass to the ground. However, this also showed us where the dirt wasn't level (or compacted enough) because parts sank down, so we pulled up those areas and put more dirt there, then wet it again.

Once that was done I would have been done for the day but my daughter requested that we finish setting up the pool that day. Since I still had more energy I said we could do that. (That same day we removed the last of the weeds and cleaned the synthetic grass and onward.)

The next step was laying out the foam mats. We got four, and we had to lay them next to each other so they would cover the area, but again, it was windy and we needed to hold it down. So we took out the metal bits of the pool and used them to hold down the mats.

After that we needed to open up the actual pool and position it correctly. Who knew that vinyl could be so heavy? Once opened, we made sure the rectangle was in the right configuration, but then I realized that the holes for where the pump attached were on the side away from the electricity needed, so we turned it around.

I looked for instructions on how to put the pool together but I couldn't find them (of course I found them later after I finished) so I had to piece it together on my own. There were poles that came in two separate lengths, so I concluded the shorter poles were along the short end of the pool and the long poles along the long ends. The poles had things that clicked together along the sides, but I didn't realize at first that they all were different and needed to be attached in specific configurations, but after trying to connect them and realizing I had no way to attach the last pole, I took them apart and figured out how to do this correctly. 

Then we had to stick the poles through the sleeves at the top of the pool. This was easier said than done, because the poles were over 4 meters long and the pool was over 4 meters long and our yard is only 6.5 meters, thereabouts, so we ended up needing to stick the poles over the fence into the neighbor's yard to be able to reach the sleeves and put the poles inside (mind you, the sleeves need to be in line with the poles for this to work but the poles were coming in from an angle, but we figured it out). Then we attached the pieces for the corner, and it was time for the legs. 

The legs of the pool were U shaped and needed to go into holes in the poles we had just put in, after being attached through a sleeve that comes out from the bottom of the pool. I tried putting one in when I realized that the legs were in two different widths, some for the short end and some for the long end. Once we got the legs in (and ensured that the sleeves attached to the bottom weren't twisted) we were done, more or less, and it was time to start filling. It was already dark so I couldn't take good pictures, but oh well.

We attached the hose and then started filling the pool... but realized after a few minutes that we never attached the pump to the pool, and there were holes in the sides for the pump. But since the pool is large and it takes a long time to fill, I wasn't really worried. We read the instructions for attaching the pump and got it set up and working in the pool. (Ok, not exactly true. You can't turn on the pump until the water goes through the hose into the pump, so I only turned it on once the pool was filled.)

It took a full 10-12 hours or so for the pool to fill up (not exactly sure, but it was overnight and then more.) Then I realized that my chlorine that I bought last year wasn't accessible for complicated reasons, so decided to go buy chlorine that day.

While I was gone, my son, Lee, built the ladder.

I'm on the whatsapp group for the scratch and dent store I like to frequent and saw that they sold algaecide for the pool, so figured I could get the rest of the needed equipment as well. When I got there I saw that they also had chlorine (as I was hoping) and floaters to hold the chlorine "pucks". My one from last year got destroyed, and since this was a bigger pool I got two to put in at once. I got algaecide so the pool wouldn't become filled with algae and get gross, and got some fun pool toys and floaties as well as goggles (they had prescription goggles for 1/4 the price I found them in a regular store!).

The scratch and dent store also had large tarps that I could use to give us shade and privacy in our pool, and they had one that was 6 meters by 6 meters, more or less the right size for our garden. 

Once home, I just needed to figure out how to put up the tarp. Not a simple task, to put it mildly. 

On one side of our yard we had a pergola, so I figured we could attach it to that from that side, but wasn't sure how to attach it to the other side. My son Lee suggested attaching a wooden beam to the fence on that side, but I wasn't sure how to attach the tarp to the beam since most of our tools weren't available so I couldn't hammer in a nail or cut a notch in the wood to stop the tarp from sliding down. But eventually I found a small notch in the wood which I used to attach the tarp to that side.

Then we had to bring 6 meters of tarp across the yard (and over the pool) and somehow over the pergola to attach to the other side. This was a complicated process and involved lots of moving the ladder back and forth because we only had one ladder and needed to do things on both sides to get the tarp to move over the pergola and not get stuck on the wood, but eventually we managed to connect it.

Then we stretched out the tarp over the pool and attached the tarp to the fence there and voila! Privacy. Most of the way anyhow. We still want to buy something to give us privacy along the fences on either side so our neighbors couldn't see into the pool.

And with that, more or less, our pool was done and ready for use.

It was a lot of work. I couldn't have done it without the help from my kids especially because of my back and because I sprained my wrist from a fall last week. But we did it. I could have paid someone to do all the work for us but it was doable on our own, and I didn't want to spend extra money on that.

Total for everything involved in setting up the pool including the pool, upgraded pump, mats, dirt, delivery of the dirt by crane, and the pool equipment such as chlorine, algaecide, toys, and shade? $1056 for the pool and mat and pump and ladder. $114 for 3 tons of dirt including delivery. $200 for the shade and all the pool toys and chlorine and algaecide etc. $1370 total for everything. Not the cheapest in the world, no question. But for something that will hopefully last many years, and provide lots of fun and also health benefits, in my opinion very worth it.


  1. Any time you stress about the cost, just think of the physical therapy you can do. You'll be able to exercise safely and the kids will have a great time.
    I'm glad you posted about the pool -- proves once again that regular people can do more than they think they can.

    1. I can't believe the young man in the picture is your son! They do grow up fast.

    2. I know, right? I'm shocked every day at how big and grown up he is. Only 13 but hes totally a man. And you can't even see from the picture how big he is- he's nearly my height- 5'9.

      Thanks Annemarie.

  2. Looks like so much fun! How deep is the water? Great idea for the summer. It will be worth every penny and great excersize for the kids!

  3. Thank you for walking us through the process

  4. that pool looks amazing! i hope you get lots of use out of it

  5. I too live very frugally and decided a pool was a good investment for my kids. We live out in the country, far from town, and this helps with boredom .


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