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9 Reasons to Sink an Above Ground Partially in the Ground

Having an above-ground swimming pool partially sunk in the ground has become a very popular option.

Gold Residence ~ Boerne, Texas

Digging the hole and installing the pool in the ground makes the job a much bigger one. There is a lot of dirt to deal with, the pool assembly is harder to do down in a hole, and building a retention wall or backfilling is a mandatory step.

The cost to put an above-ground pool in the ground is a lot too. Doing this can double the overall install price as it’s not cheap to have a hole dug and/or earth removed from the property.

When the job is done though, it’s usually worth it for the pool owner. But why exactly? Why would someone go through the added trouble and expense to put an above-ground pool semi in the ground?

During the 35 years of my being in the above-ground pool business, I have always installed a percentage of above grounds in the ground. Here are nine popular reasons why pool owners make this choice.


1 Feels More Natural

In nature, water is usually at our feet. There are exceptions to this, but as a general rule, the level of water in nature is lower than us.

Above-ground swimming pools and portable hot tubs are great, but they do have an unnatural feel to them as the water level is high up.

Sinking an above-ground swimming pool even halfway down in the ground will give it a much more natural feel. Building a deck to the level of the pool will help with that too.

2 Looks More Like an Inground Pool

Let’s face a reality – Inground swimming pools are nicer than above grounds. They cost more, last longer, and are much more permanent.

A big difference between above-ground pools and ingrounds is that the ingrounds look better. This is mainly because of the materials used for the pool and decking construction, but also because they are fully in the ground.

Many people sink above ground pools for the same reason that they get oval-shaped ones – They want it to look more like a traditional inground.

In my opinion, this is a good reason to sink an above-ground pool. And you can install concrete or paver decking (done correctly) and have landscaping related to the pool water much better than when it’s up high.

3 Privacy

This is a big consideration with having an above-ground pool. Most people have neighbors close enough to see over a standard six-foot privacy fence and see above-ground pool activity.

Above ground pools with high wood decks built next to them is very nice. One of the only drawbacks to this is that the deck is high enough off the ground to where the neighbors can see what goes on.

Sinking an above ground will allow for much better privacy as the common six-foot privacy fence will be high enough for those living next door and behind to not see.

4 Aesthetics

15x30 oval above ground swimming pool in yard with a lake behind it
Sinking this pool some keeps the view of the lake open

Higher-end above-ground pools are nice looking. They have well-designed walls with proper coloring and stylish frames. These pools being more than four feet high though are a consideration for the overall aesthetics of a backyard though.

In regards to landscaping and yard design, the elevation of components is important. As with higher-end landscaping, layering plants, bushes, and trees in relation to their heights is crucial in how good the yard will look.

Having a giant four-foot-plus tall structure in a yard can take away the overall aesthetic quite a bit. Reducing the height of the biggest structure in the yard even by half (from 4ft tall to 2ft tall) can greatly improve the overall look of the yard.

Many above-ground pool owners will opt to have it installed in the corner of their yard not knowing exactly why they don’t want it in the middle. In truth, they don’t want it in the middle of the yard(often where it should be) because it is too big and tall.

Sinking an above-ground pool can increase the potential areas of the yard that you would be willing to put it.

Also, incorporating a pool that is just two feet tall with the other components of the yard is much easier than when it’s the full four-plus feet high. An above-ground pool completely on top of the ground often has to become the focal point of the overall backyard aesthetic due to it being the biggest high thing in the yard.

Other components of a backyard that affect its aesthetics are:

Shed or outbuilding
Shrubs and plants
Walkways and paths
Hot tub
Adjacent lake, nature area, or elevation

If your backyard already has a spectacular look or that is your plan, consider strongly going through the extra hassle of installing your pool semi-inground.

5 Easier and Better Access

Not everyone has the ability to easily climb up to get into a pool.

Many above-ground pool ladders are very basic and don’t allow for the level of support that some need to be able to climb the rungs. Many will opt to build a deck next to the outside of the pool for much better access, but some just don’t want to have to elevate as much to get into their pool (even if the deck creates very easy access).

Once in the pool, the water helps a lot to make it easier and safer for those to get back out.


ELDERLY – I just installed a 15’ round pool partially in the ground for a lady who is in her 70’s and cannot easily climb. Many elderly people need to swim for therapy but have a hard time climbing steps.

DISABLED – Wheelchair or disabled access for people with special needs can be expensive to build and take up too much room in the yard. Partially sinking a pool in the ground can solve many of these access issues.

OBESE – A good quality, standard A-frame ladder for a metal-walled above-ground pool will have a weight capacity of 300-350 pounds. Upgrading to heavy-duty steps can have weight ratings as high as 500-600 pounds.

Even with heavier rated steps, it’s often not easy for bigger people to climb the rungs to enter and exit an above-ground pool on the outside. Having the pool only two feet high(instead of four) helps a lot.

DOGS – For many, dogs are as big a part of the family as any other human member. People will want their dogs to be fully incorporated with the family having a swimming pool.

For this reason, pool owners will want their dogs to have easy access to the pool. And since most dogs cannot easily climb a ladder, they opt to sink the pool in the ground deep enough so their dogs can easily jump in and out.

6 Makes it Easier to Clean

Coming from a guy who owned a pool maintenance business for sixteen years, I can tell you that it’s harder to clean a pool that is tall out of the ground.

Pools are vacuumed best when standing outside of it. The same goes with skimming and brushing the pool.

Above-ground pools are harder to clean because they are high up. Some will have a high deck around the pool and that will make it much easier to clean.

Without a deck surrounding the pool, it would be much easier to clean if it were halfway in the ground. This way, you will be able to reach the pool from the outside much better.

7 Line Up with an Existing Deck

Many backyards already have decks or patios. And many yards will slope down and away from the house.

This outward slope will make the existing deck or patio the highest point in the yard. With that, people will opt to have their above-ground pool partially buried to line up with the level (or close to) of their deck/patio.

This is a nice option to do because you can incorporate your existing deck nicely with the pool. Decks are expensive, so it’s great when you can use what you already have for a pool deck.

8 HOA Requires It

I am not at all a fan of HOAs (Homeowners associations). They are controlling and prevent a lot of people from getting an above-ground pool even though it’s in their own backyard. Sorry, but that’s just sad to me.

Some HOAs will allow only inground swimming pools. This creates a bit of a loophole to their rules of not allowing an above ground. So, as long as the pool goes in the ground (usually at least halfway) an above-ground pool is allowed.

This has become a trend across the country, so if you are unfortunate enough to have an HOA that only allows inground pools and you don’t want to spend the now 50k plus that the average one costs, then consider getting approved for an above ground pool in the ground.

9 To See Young Swimmers Better

Many want to be able to see their young kids swimming in the pool very clearly. Some want to see them from their patio or even inside the house as in through the kitchen window.

When an above-ground pool is partially buried, the swimmers are more visible everywhere in the yard and from the house. This is an important safety feature for some.


Dan writes with the knowledge of having 35 years (and counting) in the above ground pool industry.

9 thoughts on “9 Reasons to Sink an Above Ground Partially in the Ground

  1. I sink oval 15 x 30′ above ground pool halfway in the ground. My dilemma is should I bury it with soil or somehow to secure it from concave in it ?

  2. Thanks for this article!

    We just had a steel 27′ round above ground pool installed. The issue we face is it is installed on a slope. If I put the existing clay soil to fill in around half of the pool (that is 2′ high and directly against the exterior wall of the pool), will this cause problems to the exterior wall of the pool, such as rust? If so, how could I remedy this problem?

  3. I’m going in this direction soon! Two questions: (1) which set up maintains the integrity of the pool’s structure and wear and tear? Also (2) I understand that you cannot provide recommendations of names to install, but can you provide any “how-to” resources and/or tutorials on this? Looking forward to hearing back from you!

    1. Going down no more than 2.5ft max is best. And as far as best for wear and tear, building a retaining wall is best, but only maybe and slightly, so I’m not sure it’s worth the extra time, work, and cost for one.

      The only how-to I have for installs is this article: https://abovegroundpoolsknowitall.com/31-professional-tips-for-installing-an-above-ground-swimming-pool/

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