Enable Accessibility

Pool Buying Guide

Interested in building an above or semi-inground pool in your backyard, but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place. The Watson’s team of pool pros have years of experience to help you navigate the ins and outs of purchasing your first pool. Find all the information and the top considerations you need to make the right decision, right here at Watson’s.

Permits, Zoning, & Regulations

Before you begin planning your dream pool, keep in mind that residential swimming pools may be regulated by the state, county, and city. So, depending on your location, there may be restrictions or laws put in place that you need to comply with.

Talk to your local Agency or homeowner’s association (HOA) about any potential zoning requirements, building regulations, easements, fees and official inspections before selecting a pool site. You’ll also need to obtain a swimming pool permit from your area’s Agency.

Please note: Above ground and semi-inground pool permitting is the responsibility of the homeowner.

Planning Your Pool Site

Once you get the green light to build and have obtained a permit, the first major step is to plan your pool site. While there are different types, shapes, and sizes of swimming pools to consider, it’s important that the size of your yard meets the requirements for your pool first and foremost.

Carefully look over your property for the most ideal pool location. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind while deciding on your pool site:

  1. Place the pool where it’s easy to access and see from your house.
  2. Consider extra space for decks, patios, slides, and spas you may want to add.
  3. We recommend utilizing the sunniest location to keep your pool water warm.
  4. Avoid having tree branches overhead if possible. As a general rule, pools should be 8-10′ from trees.
  5. Keep the pool away from windy areas, as wind blowing over a pool can greatly increase evaporation.
  6. Consider access to electric hook-up.
  7. Place the pool so the yard will drain away from the pool.
  8. If possible, place filter and skimmer at the downwind side of the pool. This will provide the most effective skimming action.
  9. Allow enough room to work, to bring in necessary equipment (i.e. a Bobcat) and material (i.e. sand), and to keep disruption to yard at a minimum. A 10’ opening into your yard is needed to accommodate equipment and materials necessary for the installation.
  10. Treat any existing nutgrass in and around pool site before installation of an above ground pool. If nutgrass is present, spray the area with Triox by Ortho or have a lawn care service professional spray the area.
  11. NEVER install a pool on fill dirt.
  12. NEVER build a pool under overhead power lines.
  13. NEVER build up surface or low spots (always dig away to level surface) unless professionally installed.
  14. NEVER locate pool over underground lines, septic tanks, leach lines, or drainage fields. Always check with proper authorities.

Pool Types

There are 3 primary types of backyard pools: Inground, semi-inground pools by Radiant, and above ground pools.

Ingrounds: Inground pools are most notably lauded for adding value to your home while also enhancing the look and feel of your backyard. However, building an inground pool can be a major investment: They’re almost 2 to 3 times the cost of an above or semi-inground pool. If you’re not willing to invest in the initial installation, higher electric bills, or yearly maintenance (i.e. chemicals, cleaning supplies, and pool opening and closing necessities), an inground pool may not be for you. Since Watson’s is not in the business of inground pools, we’ll focus on the latter two pool types.

Above Grounds: If you’re looking for a an economical pool that can be installed quickly, an above ground pool may be the best option. An above ground pool is specially reinforced with an ultra durable piece of sheet metal for structural support. Because there are plenty of built-in fencing and locking gate options, above ground pools are an especially safe, well-suited option for families with children.

Semi-Ingrounds: A semi-inground is an above ground pool dug partially underground. Unlike inground pools, you don’t have to worry about laying the groundwork for cement. That’s because a semi-inground pool is constructed with heavy-duty panels and frame to reinforce its structure. Because of this, the installation process lasts longer than that of an above ground.

A semi-inground gives you the flexibility to do more with the look and feel of your yard. For example, you can bury a Radiant pool halfway in the ground (about 26 inches), and add stones with steps or a travertine wall to hide the top half of the pool. What’s unique about the semi-inground pool is that you can get the appearance of an in-ground, but closer to the price of above ground.

Sizes & Shapes

The Size of your pool will depend on the amount of space you are willing to allocate and how many people you anticipate will use your pool at any given time. At Watson’s, the most common pool size is a 24 ft. pool. Some of our smallest pools range anywhere from 15 to 18 ft. in diameter, which is ideal for families with a single child. Our larger pools range upwards of 33 ft. round and 21 x 43 ft. oval, with depths spanning 48 to 54 in.

When considering the size of your pool, you also need to think about providing enough space for friends, neighbors, and others outside of your immediate family. Keep in mind that any floaties or pool games and accessories take up additional space as well, so adding a couple more feet in diameter might be the ideal solution for you.

All things considered, we typically recommend opting for the biggest pool your backyard will allow. This is the usually the best option for homeowners in the long run.

Next, consider the shape of your pool. Shapes of semi-inground and above ground pools are limited to two styles:

  1. Oval pools maximize available yard space, provide room for laps and other water sports, and make it easier to build a deck.
  2. Round pools are easier to install and offer more pool for the price.

Find more Above Ground and Semi-Inground options from Watson’s


Above ground and semi-inground pools are primarily made from steel, aluminum, or resin. Below are a few pros and cons for each type of pool material.

  • Steel is the least expensive, heaviest, and most solid of all the materials. They may take a long time to rust. They are susceptible to corrosion and oxidation, though. To combat this, many manufacturers will coat the bottom of the pool with resin or epoxy, behind its liner.
  • Like steel, aluminum is rust-resistant but equally susceptible to corrosion and oxidation. Aluminum is more flexible and lighter than steel. As a result, it is much easier to install, disassemble, and work with overall. However, because aluminum pool walls are riveted together, problems can arise if sealed incorrectly.
  • Though the most expensive option, resin does not corrode, oxidize, rust, or heat up. Whether it’s the overall material of the pool or only used for certain components (rims, beams, walls, etc.), you’ll find industrial resin on most top-of-the-line pools. Salt systems require resin - not steel - to prevent rust.
  • Hybrid pools combine industrial resin on top with metal pillars for a more durable, affordable option.


Watson’s offers 3 package options with the right equipment to keep your pool water clean and you swimmers safe.

Silver Package Platinum Package Lazyman's Package
Standard Maintenance Kit Pro Maintenance Kit Premium Maintenance Kit
Resin "A" Frame Ladder Resin "A" Frame Ladder Walkway Step System
Plain Blue Liner (upgrade available) Printed Liner J-Hook (UniBead) Liner
16" Sand Filter with Pump 19" Sand Filter
w/ 1.5 HP Pump & Motor
Premium Ecco Watercare System (175 sq. ft. Element Filter with 2 Speed High-Efficiency Motor)
Vacuum Equipment
Vacuum Equipment
1 Mizer Max Pac and Mineral Activator
Start-Up Chemical Kit
Extras: -3 Mizer Max Pacs and Mineral Activator
Aqua Smarte Plus Delivery System
Commercial Winter and Solar Covers
Pool Light
Automatic Pool Cleaner


Above ground and semi-inground pool installations can be complicated and should be completed by a trained professional. Quality installation of your pool is a top priority at Watson’s, and our experienced pool pros will do everything we can to install your pool as quickly safely as possible.

However, there are a few things outside of our control that may delay the installation date – starting with Mother Nature. Rain may set us back days or even weeks. This is due to our inability to operate equipment without leaving tracks and mud pits in your backyard.

Other adverse weather conditions like lighting, wet or frozen ground, and temperatures below 60℉ hinder pool installation dates as well. Should any of these conditions occur during the installation process, we will, of course, keep you updated on our progress.

When the weather permits, Watson’s pool pros help level the ground and dig the first 3” if installing a semi-inground pool. While above ground pools typically take 3 or 4 days to setup, a semi-inground pool may take around a few weeks to complete, depending on the weather and availability of service personnel.

We are the authorized service agents for every pool we sell and are trained to best serve you and your investment. Find out more information about our pool installation process by contacting us or visiting your local Watson’s store.

Need Help?

Now that you know the basics about what to consider before purchasing your pool, we’d be happy to help with any questions you may have. Get in touch with a Watson’s pool expert for more information about our pool selection, installation process, financing options, and more.