Filling in a Pool 101: Pros, Cons, and What to Know

If you don’t want to keep your inground swimming pool for one reason or another, filling it in is the best option. I’ve seen some neglected pools over the years—they’re a real eyesore and make it difficult to sell even a desirable home.

Most homeowners tend to reach out to professionals to undertake this process, even though it’s possible to get it done the DIY way.

If you are considering filling in your pool but don’t know where to start, you’re in the right place.

In this post, I’ll cover a pros and cons of filling in your pool, how it’s done, and a few other things to know.

How much does it cost to fill in a pool?

Expect to pay anywhere from $4,000 – $12,000 or more including labor and materials to fill in an in-ground swimming pool. A partial pool removal is a bit more affordable but has its downsides as well.

How much it costs you to fill in a swimming pool depends on a variety of factors, like:

  • Permits: If you need a permit in your area for filling in a swimming pool, you may have to spend money on acquiring it. You may also need to acquire a permit for using a dumpster.
  • DIY or professional: Even if you have contractor experience for a DIY job, a pool removal will take several days of your time. If you hire a contractor, expect labor costs to represent anywhere from 20 to 40% of the total cost. 
  • Renting and hauling off the dumpster: In addition to permits, you will need to rent a dumpster and have it hauled off; a contractor may or may not be include this service
  • Material for filling in the pool: Homeowners typically choose from materials like dirt, sand, topsoil, and gravel for filling in their pools. Each material comes with unique costs.
  • Landscaping: Filling in a pool involves the use of heavy machinery that may tear up your lawn a bit. Once filled, expect to spend a bit on new landscaping.
  • Additional costs: If your pool has a deck and/or an enclosure, expect costs to increase even more as you will have to remove these parts as well.

Do you have to remove your pool to fill it in?

Not always. What’s called a partial removal involves breaking down the pool surround, drilling holes in the pool structure, and filling it with rubble and dirt. Keep in mind you may be required to remove your concrete pool before filling it in depending on local regulations.

Disclosing a pool fill in

When selling your home, you will have to disclose a partial pool fill-in to potential buyers; building a dwelling or permanent atop the filled-in pool isn’t allowed in most areas as Howtown Demolition Contractors describes in this post.

The main reason cities enact these regulations is to avoid potential problems like sinkage; even though permanent structures aren’t typically allowed, sheds and landscaping is perfectly okay.

If you work with a licensed engineer, you may not have to disclose a complete pool removal to future homebuyers. Again, always check local regulations.

Do you need a permit to fill in a pool?

You may need a permit to fill in your pool. If a permit is required, you can get one for a small fee, although some permits are issued for free.

7 reasons to fill in your pool

If you’re not sure whether or not to fill in your pool just yet, below are a few common reasons to review.

  1. Your swimming pool isn’t in use anymore
  2. You can’t continue to operate it due to high operational and maintenance expenses
  3. It has retrofitting and/or remodeling requirements
  4. It needs extensive repairs
  5. You want to convert your swimming pool space into something else
  6. It isn’t adding any value to your property due to its poor condition
  7. You want to steer clear of all potential pool safety hazards

Pros and cons of filling in a swimming pool


  • More space in your yard: If your property is on the smaller side, filling in your pool will give you more room for kids and dogs to play; you also can plant grass or sod.
  • No more pool maintenance expenses: Even though owning a swimming pool is a dream for many, maintenance isn’t all fun and games. It takes a lot of time, dedication, effort, and money to maintain a pool. From investing in chemicals, to buying pool equipment, to paying higher utility bills— expenses tend to pile up pretty fast.
  • Cost cutting. Maintaining a pool typically costs anywhere from $80 to $150 depending on the season and pool size; by filling in a pool, you can both get rid of these expenses or the eyesore your already dirty pool has become.
  • Potential reduction in insurance premiums: Insurance companies tend to charge higher premiums on properties with swimming pools. The reason for this is due to potential pool safety hazards. So, if you want to save up on your insurance costs, filling in your pool can be an effective solution.
  • Removal of all potential safety hazards: A neglected pool can pose a safety danger, especially to children if they are left unsupervised at home with free access. If your work requires you to stay away from home frequently, filling in your pool can make your yard safer for your children.


  • Permits and restrictions: In some places, there are restrictions on what you can and can’t do with the land on which your swimming pool has been built. Before you go ahead with filling in your pool, you have to be aware of all the rules and regulations so you don’t end up in a legal soup later.
  • Fill-in costs: Filling in a swimming pool can be an expensive affair but depends on a variety of factors like where you live and the type of filling-in you opt for. Remember to research local companies to get an idea of how much you are likely to have to shell out for the process.
  • Improper fill-in: If you go about the pool filling-in process by yourself, i.e. DIY, you may run into problems. Quite simply, you have to ensure that the process is right from start to finish. If you can’t, you may end up with land in your backyard that’s sinking. To repair this, you would probably have to spend a lot of money on repairs in the future.
  • Drastic decrease in property value: In some cases, pool removal can increase property value if the pool is old and viewed as a liability. However, in most cases, filling in pool results in a property value decrease.

How do you fill in a pool?

Filling in an inground swimming pool is a pretty straightforward process for professionals. Here are 6-steps to expect.

Step 1: The breaker box is disconnected to power the pool off.

Step 2: All the water from the pool is drained.

Step 3: Holes are drilled at the pool’s bottom for preventing water collection.

Step 4: The side walls’ tops are demolished. Removing the bottom portions is optional.

Step 5: Fill in the pool

Step 6: The process is finished with sod and soil.

Tip: Always hire a professional to fill in your pool unless you have experience

What materials can you use to fill in a pool?

Many contractors will use a low-cost material (tailings) for 80% of the pool, followed by topsoil. A combination of stone, gravel, sand, and dirt may be offered as filler material.

Materials can range anywhere from $5.00 per cubic yard for tailings, up to $10 t0 $50 or higher for topsoil per cubic yard; it all depends on the quality of soil and how much you need.

Landscaping ideas once your pool is filled in

Once you have filled in your swimming pool, you’ll probably want to turn your attention toward landscaping. Here are a few ideas.

Plant some grass

This is the simplest and the most cost-effective trick in the book. It’s also great for the kids, as they would get some open space in the yard to play. All you need to make this happen is fertilizer, shredded hay, and of course, grass seed.

Build a garden

If you want to be more elaborate, why not build a garden? Some of the garden types you can consider include a vegetable garden, zen garden, and flower garden.


You can also hardscape the area of your yard where your pool used to be. This involves building a fountain or another small water feature.

Outdoor entertainment

If your property regularly hosts parties, this would make sense. This is where all party attendees can gather and have fun.

Who can fill in my pool? (DIY vs professional)

In most cases, you will want to hire a professional to fill in your pool. Dirt, demolition, and removal of concrete is an extensive job that requires specialized machinery and knowledge.

However, if you have an uncle or brother-in-law (like I do) with experience and access to farm equipment, it’s a project you may be able to handle on your own if careful.


So, there you have it—if it’s time to fill in your pool, now you know what your options are.

If you still love being near water but don’t care for a pool, a hot tub can be a lower-cost alternative.  Check out my post on hot tub canopies and enclosure ideas and my other posts on hot tubs if interested in transforming your backyard.

As a first step, get a few quotes from local contractors who have experience with this type of job, as well as a landscaping company (if you prefer).

Anything I missed? Let me know if the comments below.

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