Well, first it should be legal; zoning, setbacks, fences, etc.  See our Do I need a permit to put up a pool? section for details.  You can’t build over utilities, septic tanks, and leach fields.

Avoid putting it under, or even close to; overhead electric lines, trees, plants, and shrubs.  Why let wires, dirt, leaves, and fertilizers fall into the water? 

If at all possible, try to put it in the sun as much of the day as possible.  Watch where the sun shines and shadows fall every couple of hours for a day, and you’ll get a handle on that.  It’s easier to keep your water warmer when the sun heats the pool walls.  For that matter, try to avoid prevailing winds that will cool the pool.            

Realistically, most people only have one spot big enough, so that’s where it’s going to go!  Other things to think about: the closer to the house, the shorter the ditch for the electric outlet and the shorter the distance to carry the hot dogs and lemonade for pool parties!

The pool wants to be on solid, level ground that’s not at the bottom of a hill.  Solid ground means that you don’t have an old stump dump underneath that will create sink holes as they decompose.  If the area used to be a farm or garden, you may have to remove a bit of loam before you get to something hard.  If you cut down trees, pull the stumps, don’t grind them.  The pool should be leveled to the lowest spot: not by cutting two feet off the top of a hill and adding two feet to the bottom.  A 24’ round pool weighs 100,000 pounds.  It will sink if it’s not well supported.

Now all of these problems can be solved with some thought, money, and an experienced installer.  There are materials that can be used to replace ground that’s too soft.  Ground can be built up, and retaining walls built.  We don’t like to put pools at the bottom of a hill, because rain water can run down, wash under the pool, and wash out a cove.  In that case, you may need to build a French drain on the uphill side to move the rain water around the pool.  Again, that’s not an ideal situation, but perfectly fixable with planning.

Get really good advice if you place it on an impervious surface such as concrete or hot top.  You’ll need an artificial bottom that can’t wash out, and an anchoring system to keep it from “walking” like an unbalanced washing machine.

You need to decide where the filter, skimmer and ladder are going before you start building.  The easiest place to use your filter is right next to the skimmer – and if you have a cheap filter, it won’t work anywhere but there.

It would be nice to place the skimmer where the prevailing wind can blow leaves and bugs into it.  Most important, though, is to keep the skimmer and filter where you can see them and get to them easily.  They are not ugly.  If “out of sight is out of mind”, that’s bad for you.  We want you to take a quick look at it as often as possible.  If it’s easy to get to, you will.  If it’s hidden around the back, you won’t.  That means don’t hide it under the deck.  About the tenth time you hit your head on the bottom of the deck, you’ll regret it! 

If you have a round pool, you can put the skimmer anywhere.  But if you have an oval pool, it can only go on the curved sections.  The preferable spot, for best circulation, is right before the curved section meets the straight side.  While it may be tempting to run the electric line under the pool while you’re digging there anyway, that’s lame and probably illegal.

The ladder wants a nice, flat base inside and outside the pool.  You can always fix the outside if you want, but your installer needs to know where the ladder is going before the pool is installed.  This is actually a big deal if you are going to have large pool steps – even in the future.  It is a much larger area to have to keep flat.  Plan ahead.

Putting a deck along the long side of an oval pool will make it more convenient to use than putting it on either end.

Don’t make life difficult by trying to make your pool match up to your existing deck.  It’s way easier to cut wood to size than it is to create ground the right level so that a pool ends up in the right place eight hours later.  The safest course is to pull the pool several feet away from your deck. Build a connecting deck, and allow access by a small gate.  It also makes the pool safer.