Retaining Wall for Pool on Slope – Can It Be Done?

A retaining wall for a pool on a slope might just be your key to a happier and healthier future. You’ve probably thought about how amazing it’d be to own a pool. Pools mean happy summer days spent with friends and family. They give you the ability to get a solid workout that’s both efficient and enjoyable. Pools open up an almost limitless number of possibilities. But people with houses on land that are not level often assume that a pool simply wouldn’t be compatible with their home. However, you’ll soon see how retaining walls can let you build a pool almost anywhere.

Can You Build a Swimming Pool on a Hill or Slope?

large pool and deck built on a sloped section
Not all properties are perfectly flat but a retaining wall allows you to have a pool and deck to give you your ideal backyard.

You probably have a lot of questions at this point. But the most important is almost certainly whether you can build a swimming pool on a sloped yard. And the simple answer to that question is almost always an enthusiastic yes!

A simple retaining wall is all it takes to build a pool on uneven ground or even a fully sloped yard. Of course, now that you know it’s possible, you’re probably wondering about the specifics. Planning for a retaining wall is a far easier process than you might suspect. And it all begins by looking at which situations require one.

When Do You Need a Retaining Wall?

If you have a perfectly flat yard, then you probably won’t need a retaining wall. But any slopes or dips in your yard suggest that you might need one. And if you have more steep slopes, then a retaining wall is often a necessity. There are a few different reasons why retaining walls are so important in uneven terrain.

One of the most important elements of a retaining wall is stability. If you’re building underground, then you need support elements in place to keep the structure stable. And pools built into the ground have similar requirements. Loose or sandy soil often doesn’t provide enough support in uneven terrain. And it’s not just about the pool’s foundation either. Uneven and unstable terrain can also slide into your pool if there’s no retaining wall.

pool on a very steep slope with significant reatining walls in place
On very steep properties retaining walls will most likely be required on all sides of the pool. 3 side to support the land around the pool and 1 side (the low side) to support the pool itself.

Retaining walls essentially hold and flatten the substrate around a pool. The wall will fill in any empty or weak space on the lower end of the pool’s intended area. And it’ll also hold up the soil in areas above the pool’s surface.

The structures essentially guard a pool from dangers below and above the pool’s surface.

However, the exact type of retaining wall you need will often vary by what type of pool you’re installing.

Which Type of Pool Is Best?

When people first start considering a new pool, it’s usually in abstract terms. You tend to think about the experience of weightless freedom in the water or how it feels to jump into a pool on a hot summer day. But there’s a lot more to pools than the experience of swimming in one.

Modern backyard pools come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. And each variation brings with it some unique advantages and disadvantages. For example, a concrete pool tends to be especially susceptible to algae. While a fiberglass pool can crack if the surrounding earth shifts. Which is something that is a distinct possibility if the area has loose soil and a retaining wall isn’t used.

concrete pool on a steep property
Many houses are on hilly properties for the view, pools can still be incorporated into these designs.

The best type of pool is in many ways a distinctly subjective matter. But your choice of the best possible pool for your needs is also influenced by objective factors. When you’re thinking about installing a pool, it’s important to really consider every element of its design. That includes whether you need a retaining wall. But you also need to think about construction materials, cleaning and heating systems, and what kind of additional accessories you might like to incorporate. For example, if you want a pool deck, then you should think about how to leverage its design into your pool’s layout. If you have a pool, deck, and retaining wall, then you can use the wall as a part of the deck for a more seamless experience.

All backyards are unique and require different considerations, depending on if and how big of a retaining wall you need will affect which type of pool you can go for (concrete, fiberglass, vinyl). This aspect of the build project requires more careful planning as it is a big step.

It is always recommended to talk to a pool builder about what they think is best for your situation based on their experience.

Retaining Wall Options

Just as pools are constructed from different materials, so are pool retaining walls. Segmental retaining walls are the most popular option. This style is both attractive and will generally have a lower price point than the alternatives. But masonry walls also provide a stately and attractive option that’s a perfect fit for many people’s aesthetic preferences. Pool retaining wall designs are numerous, so it is best to do your research, find out what features you want to incorporate and what look will suit your backyard.

small pool with retaining walls on 2 sides with trees and plants in them
In small backyards, retaining walls help maximize space by allowing the pool to go right to the edge of the feature (in this case the garden).

The Cost of a Retaining Wall for Your Pool

The overall cost of a retaining wall is heavily impacted by the previously mentioned options. But more than anything else the cost often comes down to size. The larger your pool area the larger your retaining will need to be. It’s generally a good idea to consider retaining wall costs alongside the cost to build a pool in general due to this correlation between wall size and pool size. The layout of your backyard and where the pool fits in will affect the costs. For example, if the wall is on the high-side of your pool it will need sufficient drainage incorporated into it to divert water from that earth around the pool. A retaining wall to hold the pool itself (i.e on the low-side) does not need this as much.

The cost of a retaining wall will generally scale upward with the cost of a pool. A pool payment calculator can also be an invaluable tool to help you work out these costs into a firmly defined pool loan.

pool with deck on 2 sides and the far end with an infinity edge
Having a to have a retaining wall is not always a disadvantage, in this example it allows for an infinity edge at one end of the pool.

Additional Points To Consider for Your Retaining Wall

A retaining wall might seem like an unremarkable necessity at this point. But the wall’s functionality is only the beginning of the story. Retaining walls offer utilitarian benefits. But they can also function as an attractive centerpiece that brings your pool’s aesthetic together. This platform allows for additional features to be added. For example, people often work retaining walls into a larger pool fence design to unify the area’s design into a singular whole.

Of course, there are many different approaches to unified themes. Another popular option is to merge retaining walls into modern pool fountains. The concept can become more clear when you think about waterfalls. A retaining wall is essentially just stone. And water moving over stone is one of the most classically beautiful sights in the natural world. Turning the retaining wall into a water feature essentially hides the functionality of it and turns it into a highlight.

retaining wall with lights and a water feature mounted in it
You can turn the wall into a highlight of the pool by incorporating lighting and/or water features into it.

The fact that you have full control over the wall’s design also means that you can leverage it for a number of different fountain designs. A wall could have a central recession that acts as a basin. Or you could even integrate multiple spouts to create a unique soundscape as water rains down. And lighting within a retaining wall’s fountain can produce some truly breathtaking sights at nighttime.

Though there’s also another way to combine beautiful lighting with a retaining wall. A retaining wall can provide seating for a poolside fire pit. This can create a beautiful contrast between the elements as the fire pit produces strikingly beautiful lighting. People can also enjoy clear water as the night’s chill sets in, before drying off in front of a warm fire.

gently sloping property with pool and inground fire pit
Having a sloping property lets you be more creative with your design like incorporating different features into it like a firepit.

A sloping yard is often seen as a hindrance in reaching your backyard dreams but one advantage of needing a retaining wall means an infinity pool edge is possible. This is not an option for inground pools that are surrounded on all sides. So having one side exposed allows for various infinity pool designs that you may want to incorporate into your overall swimming pool design. These of course will have additional costs and complexities, so it is always best to speak to an experienced pool builder who can guide you here.

Moving Forward With a Retaining Wall

You now have everything you need to plan for construction on a slope or uneven land. That could mean anything from a simple retaining wall for a pool on a slight slope to a larger-scale design that incorporates a deck or sauna.

The best part about retaining walls is that the complexity and style are all up to you.

And now it’s time to step back and think about what kind of retaining wall is the best match for your own individual needs and preferences.

A retaining wall can provide seating for a poolside fire pit. This can create a beautiful contrast between the elements as the fire pit produces strikingly beautiful lighting. People can also enjoy clear water as the night’s chill sets in, before drying off in front of a warm fire.


At Viking Capital, we try to provide accurate information on loans, credit scores and pool care, but it may not apply directly to your individual situation. We are not financial advisors and we recommend you consult with a financial professional before making any serious financial decisions. The content on poolloan.net is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as professional financial advice. Should you need such advice, consult a licensed financial or tax advisor.

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