Backyard Swimming Pool Landscape Design

Landscape Challenge: Swimming Pools on Slopes

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Building Swimming Pools on Uneven Terrain

When you're envisioning the perfect poolside retreat, the challenge of a sloping landscape can seem a bit daunting. Water flows downhill, which is a challenge when you want a backyard swimming pool but live on a hill. Fortunately, with the right design and careful construction, it is possible to build a swimming pool anywhere! Here are three ways to address this common problem:

Before: In this Multi-Level Backyard, the hill was carefully excavated to preserve an established oak tree.

After: Now the swimming pool is surrounded by a natural oasis, enhanced by the dramatic boulder retaining wall.

1. Excavate and Regrade

Use heavy equipment to carve away from your hill to create a wide open space to install your pool. It will be necessary to install a retaining wall to keep the remaining hill from backsliding into your new pool – but we can help with that too. This process allows for proper leveling and grading, ensuring a stable foundation for the pool installation. By excavating the site, we can address any uneven or sloping terrain, resulting in a flat surface that is essential for safe and aesthetically pleasing pool construction.

Before: A small portion of this hilly backyard was re-graded to fit a small plunge pool.

After: The plunge pool is a small, shallow pool built for lounging, wading, and cooling off.

2. Go Small

If extreme earthwork is beyond the scope of your project, installing a smaller pool can be a low-impact alternative. Smaller pools can be more structurally stable on uneven terrain and allow for easier integration into the landscape. In this No-Mow Forest Backyard, several patio areas were integrated into the hillside without totally re-grading the yard. Nestled into one of these terraces is a plunge pool. Some homeowners prefer plunge pools because of their lower costs to build, smaller sizes, easier maintenance, and reduced water requirements.

Before: With this project, there was an 8’ drop in elevation from the back door to the property line.

After: To create a level area for the patio and pool deck, it was necessary to install a boulder retaining wall and backfill the space between the wall and the back door.


A retaining wall can help create a level space for a swimming pool by holding back the soil on a sloped or hilly area. A sturdy retaining wall prevents soil erosion and provides a stable, flat surface for the pool's installation. This allows for proper pool construction, enhances safety, and maximizes the use of space in yards with uneven terrain.

Pools on Slopes: Project Gallery

Multi-Level Backyard Fun

Designers and crews had to carve out a portion of a hill to create a level space for a swimming pool and hot tub in this backyard.

No-Mow Forest Backyard

This backyard blends modern and natural elements together to create a low-maintenance outdoor living space with a plunge pool, terraced patios, a fire table, water feature, and a outdoor great room.

Classic Backyard & Swimming Pool

With amenities like a dining patio, fire table, and swimming pool, this landscape is ready for summer pool parties and fall evenings around the fire – or enjoying the hot tub.

Designing and building poolscapes is serious business, requiring real project management and construction expertise. Structural instability may lead to costly repairs or, even worse, dangerous collapses. Improper drainage can cause erosion and soil displacement, affecting the surrounding landscape and potentially causing property damage.The importance of proper pool construction cannot be overstated, as it directly impacts the safety, longevity, and functionality of the pool.

If you are interested in installing a swimming pool in your sloping backyard, contact us for a consultation.

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