7 Tips for Filling in a Swimming Pool With Dirt

Scott Dylan Westerlund
Reviewed by Tara Dudley
Updated March 25, 2022
large house with  big pool in yard
Photo: Iriana Shiyan / Adobe Stock


  • Use dirt for fast, easy filling.

  • Filling must be done carefully to prevent future problems.

  • Holes are needed for proper yard drainage.

  • Layers of gravel and sand are placed before topsoil.

  • Planting trees and plants can help to keep dirt settled.

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If you’re tired of maintaining a pool that’s barely used or simply want a landscape filled with grass and trees instead, it might be time to say goodbye to your swimming pool. Filling your pool with dirt is the fastest and most affordable way to get rid of a pool because there's no need to remove your concrete or metal shell. This saves on both labor and hauling costs. 

However, filling a pool with dirt is still a delicate process that requires careful preparation, drainage, and demolition.

1. Drain the Pool

draining out swimming pool in yard
Photo: anaimd / Adobe Stock

Open the pool drain to allow the water to empty out. You may need to manually help some of the water push through the drain. A push broom is great for getting the last bit of water cleared from the pool once the pool is empty enough for you to stand inside.

Always be environmentally smart when draining a pool. Ensure that your pool water won't drain into storm drains if it contains chlorine. The local pool closing pros handling your pool decommissioning can assist with eco-friendly, legal pool draining.

2. Get Rid of Accessories

Begin the dismantling process by turning off electricity to your pool. Next, remove the pump. This is also the time to remove all lights, ladders, diving boards, and other accessories.

3. Begin the Demolition

While filling a pool with dirt cuts down drastically on demolition and hauling costs, it doesn't totally erase the need for demolition. It's necessary to break up some of your pool's concrete. Anyone who doesn't have the tools and experience for this part of the job should definitely bring in some pros to do it properly.

Start by making holes in the bottom of the pool using a jackhammer. This step is important because it prevents rainwater, snow, and moisture sources from gathering on the bottom of the pool. Aim for one hole every 4 feet.

Next, use the jackhammer to remove the pool's top edge. You'll be completely breaking off the edge that's situated above ground level. Be sure to shovel all of the concrete that's being broken apart as you're working. Cart debris piles away with a wheelbarrow to keep the edge completely smooth and clear.

4. Add Gravel

You need enough gravel to fill your pool up to the halfway point based on your pool's dimensions. Gravel can be dumped by truck.

It's very important to start with a hardy gravel base when filling a pool with dirt because the gravel allows water to travel to the drain at the bottom. This prevents backups and flooding in your yard.

5. Add a Layer of Clean Fill or Sand

Next, it's time to add a layer of clean fill or sand that will sit on top of the gravel. This layer should stop roughly 2 feet below the top of the pool.

6. Fill in the Rest With Topsoil

It's finally time to add the dirt for a dirt-filled pool. Fill in the point from the end of the fill/sand layer to the top of the pool with topsoil. It's essential to use topsoil instead of other types of dirt because topsoil allows grass and vegetation to grow over the pool area to create a natural, even look in your yard.

Ultimately, your topsoil layer will prevent the appearance of a strange "patch" in your yard where your pool once stood.

“It is important to make sure the new topsoil is a few inches higher than the existing grade of the lawn, as this area will settle over time,” says Tara Dudley, Angi Expert Review Board member and owner of Plant Life Designs. “This will hopefully prevent having a low spot in the lawn in the future.”

7. Add Some Trees or Plants

large green backyard with trees
Photo: Photocreo Bednarek / Adobe Stock

This last step is optional. However, adding trees and plants helps to hold the soil in place. You may find that it's necessary to add more topsoil as time goes on if the spot begins to "sink." As you create your new garden, consider what plants, flowers, and trees will thrive in your area, and which won’t.

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