top of page

How To Build a Pool on a Sloped Yard

Installing pools isn't simple. And installing the pool of your dreams may already seem like a complicated, daunting project. Add a sloped yard to the mix, and you’re probably wondering if your dream pool is in the cards at all. We agree- building a pool in a sloped backyard is certainly challenging- but don’t despair. Despite the extra obstacles, installing a pool on a hill or a slope is absolutely possible.

Good news! There is more than one way to transform a hilly backyard into the perfect canvas for your swimming pool. From terracing and leveling, to a retaining wall and more, here’s how you can work around your sloped backyard. Follow these steps to arrive at the backyard pool of your dreams.

Pool Solutions for a Sloped Yard

The first step to building in a sloping backyard is deciding which approach you and your swimming pool builders will take to solving the problem. No matter which way you look at your sloped backyard, you will need to think about this project differently than a pool area that is installed on flat ground.

For those who are not dealing with a big slope, the solution may be to avoid more drastic design changes altogether. In these situations, simply “leveling the playing field” may be the easiest course of action before beginning construction of the swimming pool.

Creating a level surface in sloped yards where the change in grade is relatively mild should not be too difficult of an undertaking for most qualified pool builders. Once complete, it should be difficult to distinguish that any sloping was present at all.

However, many times uneven grading creates a steep slope that is too extreme for traditional leveling solutions. When this is the case, it’s time to consider other options.

Retaining Walls & Swimming Pools

One of the first things you can do to make a hillside pool work for your family is to use retaining walls. What are retaining walls? Retaining walls are features built from materials like concrete block or natural stone to help hold back, (retain), the higher graded areas of your backyard.

In the case of a backyard swimming pool, they are used in two ways. They prevent erosion from the higher areas of the sloped yard, or hold the pool back from lower areas. The last thing you want is for the hill you’ve built your pool into to slide unceremoniously into the water. A retaining wall can hold in an in ground swimming pool, or hold up an above ground pool.

Incorporating a Retaining Wall Into Your Construction

There are a wide variety of ways to incorporate a retaining wall into your own pool design. Due to their staggered nature, a retaining wall should be designed with a distinct aesthetic appeal in mind. They should not simply exist as a pool wall.

Whether you’re using the elevated area to create extra seating, or to show off distinctive landscaping, making it a focal point of the space will help the design feel more cohesive. And for those seeking extra privacy, retaining walls offer a sense of separated space from the rest of the landscape.

At the end of the day, you want any feature built to address your problem to look intentional. Functionality is necessary, but it doesn’t mean compromising on design. The best swimming pool builder will be able install a retaining wall that does both.


Terracing takes the idea of a single, high retention wall and divides the slope into a tiered descent. The stark drop off becomes a gradual step ladder of terraced walls built into the side of the hill. This can be a great solution for homeowners working with a very significant slope.

The idea here is to think of each grade of terracing as a new element of outdoor living space. By doing so, you can create a truly unique and beautiful backyard. Create a winding descent of landscaping, or create a cascading waterfall ending in the swimming pool below. Use the descending tiers as a perfect nest for a water slide, or create a multi-level spa oasis.

A beautiful terrace design is a great way to turn the problems inherent in sloping backyards into opportunities. At the end of the day, terracing your yard does more than help your swimming pool to exist. It can create additional outdoor living space as well. And for families dealing with hilly terrain, that’s a pretty good deal.

Issues To Prevent on A Sloped Property

There are a few key issues that your pool construction plan should address before it begins to take shape. Failing to address the real issues that come with mixing a pool and a sloping property can cost you huge in the long run.

Avoiding Run Off & Erosion

It’s important to note that any solution your pool builders use to incorporate a swimming pool into sloped yards should address the two main concerns: erosion, and run off. While the first may seem fairly obvious, the latter is just as important.

Water moves downhills. If you are installing your pool at the top of a hill, this isn’t always an issue. However, those who are grading towards a lower level installation need to take extra care in their sloped pool layout.

Undirected runoff will flow into your pool. Not only will this promote erosion, but it will carry debris and dirt into your water. This will only put additional stress on your pool’s filtration system and may even lead to costly repairs. Whether you’ve added a large retaining wall or terracing, contractors should address the issue of storm runoff before breaking ground.

Pool Designs for a Sloped Yard

Now that we’ve discussed design options for your sloped yard, it’s time to talk about what is possible for the pool. Those working with a hilly yard space may need to take a slightly different approach to the design of their inground pool. But when done correctly, this can open the options up to a truly beautiful final product.

Infinity Pools

Infinity pools have become one of the hottest trends in pool design over the last decade. For those who aren’t familiar with infinity pools, the design is simple. Infinity pools are pools with three traditional edges. The fourth edge is built to create the impression of infinite water, or the image that swimmers could continue forward indefinitely before dropping off into empty space.

This design is popular in sloping yards for several reasons. In fact, some contractors may joke that those with an inclined yard have already done some of the heaving lifting for them. This is because traditional installations of an infinity edge pool include cutting away one edge of the landscape to create the classic “drop off” illusion.

If you are working with a significant slope, building an infinity pool into the steeper grade will only make this infinite illusion more pronounced. This pool design is great for those who want to feel the rest of their landscape spread out before them, or for those who would like to take advantage of their hilled space without losing a great view.

Elevated Spa

Many spas or hot tubs built today are designed to bring the spa and pool space together. However, a sloped or tiered backyard gives you the opportunity to play with this idea. Instead of a spa that overflows into your traditional pool, elevate your hot tub for a more private, contained effect.

A spa built a level or two above the pool can exist as its own separate retreat, or be connected using a third water feature such as a waterfall. This approach creates a distinct but not disjointed effect in your backyard space, and allows homeowners to use terracing to their advantage.

Tiered Patio or Deck

A great pool is only as beautiful or functional as the hardscaping around it. An expensive infinity pool is a nice way to take advantage of a sloping space, but if the hardscaping that surrounds it is lackluster, you’re unlikely to be pleased with the finished result.

A terraced space gives you the opportunity to take the classic one dimensional pool deck to the next level, or levels in some cases. Instead of one large patio, create a handful of smaller petio levels. Add a pergola to the top perch, and a fire feature to the one below. Build an outdoor bar overlooking the rest of your entertaining space. Connect it all with winding staircases and beautiful landscaping.

Thinking of each level of space as a new opportunity for entertaining will land you with a finished product that is not only beautiful and functional, but unique to your backyard. With a little bit of imagination and patience, a sloped backyard can become the perfect canvas for a truly unique pool installation.

Seeing Opportunity in Obstacles

No matter which way you cut it, installing a pool in a sloped yard can be challenging. However, it is far from impossible. There are multiple solutions that can help you transform your hill into a beautiful and functional space to put an inground pool. But to do so, it’s important to work with a team that can see the opportunity in the obstacles of your space.

Whether your goal is to play up the pool itself with an infinity edge, or incorporate more seating or living space with a tiered patio, a good contractor will know how to turn the issue into an interesting design. In the end, you should be left not only with a functional pool, but a beautiful backyard space you can use for years to come.

13 views0 comments


Browse Our Landscape Design & Outdoor Living Experts

Screen Shot 2024-06-03 at 10.16.33 PM.png
bottom of page