An Easy, Cost Effective Way To Fill In Your Old Swimming Pool

by Grillo Services on November 28, 2011

If you would like to hire us to fill your pool click on the link

Swimming pools are great for those 3 weekends of the summer that we actually use them. Before we know it the kids have moved out, and we are left to perform all the maintenance, and incur all the costs associated with this money pit, I mean pool.  Filling in a swimming pool is very common, and this post will give you the advice you need to make it as simple as possible.

“Hey Grandpa, is it true that Dad really used to swim in there?”

Before You Begin Filling

To start you need to determine the volume of your pool in cubic yards. This is simpler than it sounds. Measure the length, width, and depth of your pool in feet. Multiply each of these numbers, and divide them by 27 (amount of cubic feet in a yard), the number you come up with is the total yardage of your pool. For example if our pool is 30′ long, 20′ wide’ and 6′ deep, it has a total volume of 3,600 square feet (30x20x6). The total square footage divided by 27 is 133.33, this indicates that your pool will need 133.33 cubic yards of material to fill it in.

The Big Decision, Do It Yourself, Or Hire A Contractor

Filling in a pool is fairly simple, although machinery is required. If you have no desire or ability to operate an excavator, skip this step and find a qualified contractor. If you think you are capable of renting a machine and doing it yourself, it can save you a large amount of money.

Ordering Your Fill

Swimming pools are fairly deep, and require large amounts of material to fill. That is why you want to purchase a low cost fill, topsoil will be needed, but only for the surface layer. Our fill is $12.00 per cubic yard. We have another material call tailings which cost only $5.00 per cubic yard. Tailings are small stones that are a byproduct of our topsoil screening process. Regular fill dirt is preferred, but tailings are also an option. A good rule of thumb is ordering 80% fill/tailings, and 20% topsoil for the surface. This allows you to fill the hole within inches of the surface before applying the topsoil. Have the material dumped as close to the pool opening as possible, the less you have to move the material the better.

It always helps to order the fill directly from the source. Relying on your contractor to place the order can lead to a markup on the material.

Doing It Yourself, Renting An Excavator

Rent an excavator with rubber tracks. Rubber tracks are crucial because metal tracks will destroy your grass. Contact local machinery rental companies and compare prices. You won’t need a very large machine, preferably something with a decent sized bucket, 1/4-1/2yd bucket. Try to order a machine with a blade, this will greatly assist you when you begin grading. Something such as the Case CX 50B is ideal.  That is from the website of a local machinery company in my area. Prices will vary depending upon the size of machine, and distance from the rental company. A job like this usually won’t take more than a few days depending on your skill level and proficiency with the excavator.

case cx50b

Note: Make sure you have all the material delivered before renting a machine. You will have to pay per day, so if for some reason the material is delayed you will be wasting money.

Before You Fill The Pool In

The bottom of the pool should be broken up, or at least drilled to allow drainage. You can try using the bucket of the excavator to do this, if it won’t work use a jack hammer or heavy duty drill. All you need is a series of holes, preferably 1/2″ or larger each. You can skip this step if drainage is sufficient in the area, as long as you plan on taking down the pool walls. Otherwise water will be contained inside the old pool, creating a potentially muddy area.

Use the bucket of the excavator to collapse the sides of the pool. If you are inexperienced with machinery be careful, never try to rush.

Filling In Your Old Swimming Pool

After the walls have been caved in it’s go time. Bucket by bucket you can start dropping the fill into the hole. Every few feet use the top of the bucket and push down on the material. This will compact the loose fill, preventing it from settling as much.

Finishing Up

As you get near the top you can walk the machine across the area and use it’s weight to help compact the soil. Once you are within a foot of the top you need to  prepare to use topsoil. The recommended amount of topsoil is 3-6″ to allow for grass growth. At this time if your machine has a blade use it to rough  grade the area, before spreading the topsoil. You can bring the topsoil grade up a few inches above the surrounding ground, this will help offset the imminent settling that will occur.

Hopefully you were pretty close on the material quantity and don’t run short, or have too much. Too much material can pose a problem if you don’t have the space for it. If so you can call the company that delivered it, and use the machine to load their truck. They will probably charge you for this, but unless you can find someone willing to take it for free it may be your most viable option.

Planting Grass

All you need to do now is put down some grass seed, fertilizer, and shredded hay. If sod is preferred it can also be laid at this time. A prior post of ours addresses grass planting and may help you, “Planting Grass.” Even though the post title describes planting grass in the fall, the steps can be used any time of year.

Filled In Swimming Pool

Any Doubts, Hire A Contractor

Hiring a contractor is what most of us will do. If you aren’t experienced with machines, or don’t want to take on the task this is your best option. Just make sure you have a clearly defined price going into the job, and you definitely want a contract. This type of job is fairly routine and costs will vary depending on the size of the pool. It is always better to get a handful of quotes rather than taking the first bid. Companies are very competitive with this lethargic economy. Be honest and give companies the chance to match a lower price, you have nothing to lose. Keep in mind that some companies are fly-by-nights and aren’t reliable. Always make sure the company you choose has good credentials to go along with their low price.

If you want I can help you personally, just send me an email explaining the job circumstances:

You can also take a look at what we offer by clicking on the pool fill in page, here is that link:

Also note that I will only work within CT, I know this post has visitors from across the US so I would just like to make that clear.


Sean Grillo

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