Many pool owners are surprised when, after leaving their above-ground pool on a patch of grass for just a few short days, they move the pool only to find that the grass underneath has died.
Now they have a pool-shaped patch of dead grass in their backyard that sticks out like a sore thumb. How do you fix the dead grass caused by leaving an above-ground pool in the same place for too long?
The best thing you can do is prevent the problem from happening in the first place by moving your pool every single day. If that’s already too late, then you need to assess the damage. You may need to do some repairs, otherwise fill the area with dirt and topsoil. Then you can add sod or grass seeds to replenish the lost grass. Lastly, fertilize and water the area to ensure the new grass gets the sustenance it needs.
Alternatively, you can consider setting up your pool on concrete (make sure you place something underneath to protect the pool liner), or decorate or cover up the empty area so that you can easily set up your pool in that space again in the future.
In this article, I will go over the steps to fix dead grass caused by leaving the pool on top of grass for too long. Additionally, I will cover how you can keep your grass from dying in the first place, as well as out-of-the-box solutions for dealing with this problem.
Assess the area
After taking down the pool yourself, or hiring professionals to take down the pool for you, you will still be left with a pool-sized hole in your yard. If you want to restore the grass in this area, then you need to determine how much topsoil you need to fill this empty space.
Unfortunately, if your yard was damaged as part of the pool removal process, then there are a few things you need to do first. Typically, pool owners that try to remove the pools themselves are more likely to damage their property.
For instance, there could be damage to drainage or plumbing lines, or there could be significant land deformation due to the weight of the pool and how long it was sitting there.
You might find mildewed plants or weeds surrounding the pool that should be removed to keep your garden healthy. You may need to remove the soil underneath the pool as it could contain harmful fungi that could spoil future planting efforts.
Top up the area with soil
Once you’ve assessed the area is ready to be worked on, or have finished up with the repairs, it’s time to fill the empty area with topsoil.
Getting the right balance of dirt to topsoil is crucial. Typically, gardening experts recommend 80% of the soil be fill material such as dirt, and 20% of it be topsoil. The dirt will pack tightly on the bottom, creating a solid base, whereas the top will be soft and nutritious topsoil for sod or seeds to grow. You need a minimum of 6 inches of topsoil to plant grass.
Plant sod or grass seeds
After laying the soil, it’s finally time to lay sod rolls or plant grass seeds. Sod is more convenient but significantly more expensive. Plus, depending on how much rain you got recently, the rolls can sometimes seem like they are melted together even as you’re buying them from the store.
Seeds are cheaper but require some time before they sprout grass. You need to make sure they are evenly distributed so that the grass will grow evenly and not in clumps. I recommend using a seed broadcaster to quickly get the job done and to ensure consistent, even results.
After placing the seeds, use a turf roller to gently press the grass seeds deeper into the soil and to flatten the surface. A turf roller can help you do both of these things at the same time, otherwise you will need to do each task separately.
Fertilize and water
Lastly, we will be adding fertilizer to the ground. Read the instructions on the fertilizer you purchased to learn how much should be used for your grass. Take care not to over-fertilize the seeds.
Those of you with a plumbing and drainage system may want to install sprinklers in your yard to take care of your newly planted grass. Alternatively, you could just use a garden hose with traveling sprinklers. Remember not to water the seeds too much to avoid drowning them.
Do you want to deal with the hole in the yard that your pool left behind, but don’t necessarily want to lay sod or plant grass seeds? There are many things you can do if you’re creative, but here are a couple of ideas.
First, having a gaping hole in your yard where grass used to be is unsightly. At the very least, make it look intentional. You should fill the hole with mulch so that weed won’t grow there, and so that nobody can fall into the hole.
Next, you have a few choices. I’ve heard of at least one above-ground pool owner setting up a standalone wood swing set on top of the mulch. You can even plant some flowers nearby to make it look more inviting. Now you have a swing in your backyard, and it looks totally natural.
Alternatively, if you have a trampoline, consider setting it up over this area to cover it up and also to provide a source of fun for your kids.
The great thing about these solutions is how impermanent they are. You can move mulch around, as well as a trampoline or swing set. Then you still have a patch of land in your backyard where there’s no grass, so you can set up your above-ground pool there again next summer without worrying about killing the grass.
Move your pool frequently to keep grass from dying
Prevention is the best cure, so knowing how to keep your grass from dying in the first place is key. The smaller your pool is, the more applicable this advice applies to you.
For small above-ground pools, it is recommended that you drain your pool every day and set it up at a new location to avoid suffocating the grass underneath.
Grass requires sunlight, water, and air to thrive. Placing a pool on top of it denies it of vital sustenance. Grass can only last 24-48 hours covered up and will quickly die afterwards. Instead of waiting that long, it’s better to move the pool within 12-24 hours.
For larger pools, this becomes less feasible as the amount of water wasted, as well as the effort it takes to move a pool around often makes it not worth your while. If you have a larger pool, just accept that the grass underneath will die and design your backyard around it.