Above Ground Pool - Gravel Base Deck image via Jesse Langleyy

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Once the snow started clearing, my family started bugging me again to get a pool. It seems like this happens each spring as the weather turns, but of course it raises many questions in my mind. Will they use it enough? Will it mesh with our backyard? Will it be used for more than an excuse to sunbathe? Then the ultimate question . . . above ground pools or in-ground pools?

An above ground pool seemed like the best choice for my wallet, but then I began to think of the stigma/image/everything else that goes with one in your yard. All I can think about is the one my less than refined neighbors have that takes up their entire yard, the ones collecting rain water and leaves, and the ones that are empty with one side collapsed and lying on the ground. These are clearly not what I want people to see in my yard. So, I got to thinking of some ways that I can make my children’s dreams/current desires come true without ruining my yard or savings account.


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1. The Raised Deck

Not only does this eradicate the need for a ladder, but it can really add that bit of class that’s needed. A good sized deck will only set you back about $2-3,000, so if it is going to be semi-permanent the investment really is minimal. This can also allow for grill/entertainment space at the level of the pool where one can more easily monitor children or easily throw in a non-suspecting guest. Overall, this method is relatively inexpensive, lasts as long, and with a big enough yard space, can look quite pleasant.

Above Ground Pool - PorchDeck image via Jesse Langley

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2. Sticks and Stones (sticks being shrubbery of course)

Another way to dramatically improve a yard with an above ground pool is to make a visual space for it. This could be an area of gravel in the yard for the pool to sit on. Not only can this help with leveling issues, it can save you from a torn up yard every summer. One could also introduce some shrubs and flowers around the pool area as well. This is far less expensive than the deck would be. Also, if you know that you will be moving in the future and will be taking the above ground pool along, this type of setup will be much easier to tear down, or part with, when that day comes.

3. The In-Ground/Above-Ground Approach

Finally, I made a choice. We have a small hill off the back porch of our home that slopes down into the rest of our fairly flat yard. I got to thinking more about it and searching online when I finally decided we could build a small deck off the back of the house that would be level with the pool on one side. The hill would then continue to slope past the pool down to the rest of the yard. The exposed parts of the pool will be surrounded with plants, gravel, etc. This option, of course, will cost me a bit of money since I will need to build the deck portion and dig out space for a retaining wall around part of the pool.

Above Ground Pool - DeckHill image via Jesse Langley

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I gave considerable thought to each of these three choices. We ended up going with the in-ground/above-ground approach because it will be significantly cheaper than an in-ground pool.  We are planning to be in this house for at least another ten years, and we think it could really look good with the rest of our yard and home. Oh yeah…and it won’t look like Jed Clampett moved into our home.

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Note from the hosts:  I’ll admit when Jesse approached me for this article — I thought to myself, “no way.”  But truth about jb — I grew up with an above-ground pool, and probably not too dissimilar to the one described in #1.  To this day, my mom will sit on its deck and enjoy it.  Jesse writes part time for Instructions Optional, and I wish him luck with his pool installation and finishing. 

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Anyone else out there have an experience with an above-ground pool?  Good, Bad, Indifferent — feel free to comment below.  Thanks.  ~jb

All images via Jesse Langley on behalf of www.familyleisure.com/.