What You’ll Dig Up When Digging a Pool

Author: Touré Foster

Posted in: Excavation

Digging a Pool, New England Enterprises, Marlborough, MA

An in-ground swimming pool is as much a symbol of luxury as much as one of convenience. Installing one at your home can be a benefit for both the value of your home and curb appeal. However, once you’ve set your mind on making this swimming pool a reality, you’re going to have to dig deep—and not just in your wallet. The most difficult part of the pool’s installation is the excavation of your yard. Not only does this require a lot of heavy machinery, but digging a pool can uncover the hidden horrors lurking beneath your yard.

Utilities and Other Man-Mades

Hitting pipes or buried electrical lines in the process of digging a pool isn’t just costly, it could cause major damage to your lawn. Before the first spade of dirt is dug up—ideally while still in the planning phase—call up the city and ask them to have a county official come out and mark any buried gas, electric, water, sewage, or cable utilities that might be crossing your lawn. There’s a national service called Call Before You Dig, which you can reach at 811. Beyond utilities, you should be on the lookout for sprinklers, septic tanks, and their leach fields.

Trees and Their Roots

Trees are a great part of your backyard: however they are nothing but bad news for pools. Digging near them will reveal their roots, whose removal will kill the tree. In fact, installing a pool anywhere near a tree is a bad idea. Leaves or needles (and nuts, cones, and pollen) will fall directly into the pool. Plus trees are also living things with a constantly expanding roof system that could pierce the side of your pool. Also, all that tree shade will lead to cooler water and high pool heating bills.

Rocks and Boulders

There are going to be rocks in the area you want to dig your pool: the question is how big? Head-sized rocks can be moved by hand and wheel-barrow. Boulders can usually be pulled out and strap-lifted with digging machinery. If you hit bedrock, it might be worth relocating the pool site in your yard. Other options include elevating the pool or getting a jackhammer. Before you attack the dig site in earnest, dig a test hole to get a feel for the ground, it could save you a lot of time.

Water, Water Everywhere

Just like rocks, you shouldn’t be surprised to hit water when digging the pool out. The real question is where in the process you’ll encounter the water. Two major options exist for getting rid of water: over-digging and draining.

  • If you hit water near the bottom, the fastest route is to over-dig the difference (one foot left when hitting water, dig one additional foot) and fill it with gravel. If water doesn’t fill back over the gravel, you should be good to go, otherwise install a sump pump.
  • For a very boggy yard with water near the surface, more extreme measures must be taken, such as using a French Drain. A pipe drain is installed beneath deepest point and connected to self-priming pump that is run continuously until the pool is finished.

We hope these pointers help you when designing your pool and planning the dig. If you need help with the excavation, contact New England Enterprises. We’re expert earth-movers, with all the machinery needed to dig to spec. Pools, foundations, landscaping, and demolition: we can do it, just give us a call.