Retaining Walls for Swimming Pools
When does a pool need a retaining wall?
One of the biggest challenges that I run into when I show up at someone’s home to lay the pool off is the grade of their yard. I rarely walk into someone’s back yard and discover that it is completely flat. Sometimes I find that with some extra gravel and some creative backfilling we can get by without the extra expense of walls. Sometimes walls can really add to the aesthetics of the pool when incorporated properly.
Determining when a wall is needed is the most important thing. I find that a lot of times the home owner has had a couple of other pool companies out and the sales person never addressed the fact that they may need a wall. This can become a disaster for the home owner if the pool goes in and no wall was put in place to divert water that may need to be diverted. What this means is that the rain water coming off the slope is going to end up in the pool carrying with it all the dirt and debris that comes along with a storm.
Sometimes when there is a slope in the yard that goes down to a level spot where the pool can go, it may be possible to put in a French drain to catch the water before it runs onto the patio. If you have to cut into the grade of the yard to put the pool in then this will probably not be an option for you.
When doing walls we like to try and make the wall become more than just a wall. You can do an elevated patio which is always nice. Another option is to put the wall right on the pool itself with a cascade or two in it. It is always nice if the wall can be 20 to 24 inches so that the wall can be used to act as a sitting wall.
Not all walls are designed to keep the water from running onto the pool deck. Sometimes the wall is there to keep the pool in place. When dealing with these walls it is a little harder to incorporate them into the project to make it play a role in making the pool look better. A lot of times with the proper backfill and compaction a wall can be avoided in these situations. There is usually extra cost in the gravel that is needed and the extra time in prepping the ground, but it can be much less expensive then the wall itself. The area would have to lend itself to enough area for grading the slope out so that it is not to steep. The slope is usually determined by how much dirt is left from the excavation of the pool. Sometimes the homeowner will have some extra fill dirt brought in to help feather the slope out.
One thing to remember is that most Counties require the wall to be engineered if it is over 2 foot tall. Another thing to keep in mind is that you do not sell yourself short on the length of the wall. When the wall is tapering down it is good to carry it a few feet longer then what is needed to insure that water does not wash around the wall and onto the deck due to trying to save a couple of hundred dollars.