The first year we were in this house we set up a rectangular inflatable pool. It was set up on the deck and the kids seemed to enjoy it, but it was too shallow for me to even float in. There had to be a better way.
The next year we got the self-supporting pool seen in the below pictures. It has plenty of depth for floating--which is good. We set it up on the deck. I sweated bullets while filling it up since it weighs a good 20,000 lbs. The deck stood up to the weight, but the pool took up too much of the deck space.
Last year we put up the pool in the yard just below the deck stairs. It worked out fine except that all the dead grass stuck to the bottom of the pool and of course there was the unsightly ring of death left at the end of the season. An additional problem was that the yard is not perfectly level and so the uphill side of the pool was not as deep as the downhill side.
This year we decided to put the pool in the same place as last year, but level the ground and put down a patio first. Here is the process:
Dig out the area and level it--the stones you see on the uphill side of the finished project are exclusively obtained from this excavation. It took about 20 wheelbarrow loads of dirt to be moved for this part of the work to be completed.
Put down some pulverized stone for a stable bed. I used 30 50lb bags of stone and I probably should have used 50 bags. I didn't want to spend too much on such a low priority project.
The stones: I had initially considered using stones from the field-stone wall behind our house, but these are not all that flat and it would have been difficult work. Next, we considered using tumbled blue stone. These are fairly flat and would have cost about $330 per pallet and it would have taken about 2 pallets. Finally, I remembered a place where I had gotten a granite slab for a table top. When I purchased the granite they had pointed out that they have a scrap heap behind their shop and I could take what I want. Bingo! Free! and perfectly flat AND all the same thickness! We brought home two truck loads of granite. Each time we took 6 layers of stone over the 6ft by 4 ft area available. The truck was visably weighed down and probably exceded the half-ton rating. I would guess 1500 lbs/load. The patio took about 1 1/2 truck loads.
The author's wife and I laid-out the stones and left about one inch of space between each one. We put about 4/5 of the stone with the rough side up so that the deck would not be too slippery. I wanted the space because I figured that concrete would be stronger than mortar and thinner gaps would be tough to get concrete into.
10 80lb sacks of concrete later, the project was (almost) done. It took me an average of about 1 hr per bag of concrete. 7 of those hours were in the 90 F of July 4th. I did a lot of spraying with the hose between bags to wash away the cement from the tops of the quarry stones.
The only additional work was to make a drainage system: While the patio was under construction, there was always a place for water to wash away to--the unfinished parts. Once it was done I had to create a place for water to go. I dug a pit about 3 ft from the edge of the patio and put a 5 gal bucket (which was cracked and had holes in it) into the pit such that the top of the bucket was about 8 inches below grade. I then dug a trench from the edge of the patio over to the bucket and laid a spare bit of drainage pipe connecting the edge of the patio to the bucket. I laid stones and newspaper over the top of the bucket then the dirt and sod went back over the pit and trench. The whole thing bears my weight and has absorbed a good 15 minutes of continuous spraying with the hose. Note: Math practice with Surenna reveals that our hose puts out around 4 gal/minute, so my rudimentary dry well seems able to handle roughly 60 gallons in 15 minutes.