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Like many families with children we have a large (15 foot) inflatable paddling pool taking up part of the lawn for the entire summer period (roughly May to Oct).

When we pack away the pool, there's naturally some serious damage to the lawn underneath.

enter image description here

But after about a month, and if October and November are at all warm, the grass starts to recover a little, starting with the outer part of the circle.

By May the following year there's quite a good recovery (just in time for it to be squashed again). Are there any steps to help the grass survive the pool and/or recover faster? For example:

  • tougher grass species
  • applying feed
  • anything else?

11 Answers 11

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I don't think there is a solution to "helping the lawn recover" because in this case it is completely dead. There's no way to have a permanent (air-blocking and sun-blocking for more than 1-2 days) structure on top of lawn co-exist with living lawn. So we're not talking recovery but somehow mitigating the appearance of dead lawn, or avoiding having it die at all.

Gardening solution:

  • Replace circle with a new piece of turf or reseed with grass seed every single year (according to KiddieGardens.com this is the official solution) with or without cutting out the circle section first.

Practical solution:

  • Move the pool every 24 hours to a different part of your garden. I appreciate, given the size of the circle in the photo, that you won't be able to do this very easily or even at all. Nevertheless, the theory is sound.

    The cure is very simple – in fact, prevention is even better than a cure. To prevent lawn problems caused by outdoor equipment, simply move it every 24 hours. Every time you sit at a an outdoor table, move the table and chairs a couple of inches. Move the kids paddling pool every day. Better yet, empty it at night and hang it to dry. While it may be a pain to constantly move these items, having to go around and repair damaged lawn areas every weekend is a bigger pain. (source: GrassStitcher.com)

Alternately:

  • Don't put a paddling pool on the lawn since it's killing the lawn 24 hours after you've placed it there. Put it elsewhere.
  • Replace a section of lawn big enough to hold the paddling pool with something that doesn't need sunlight or air (eg. bark chips).
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    On second thoughts, there appears to be a serious gap in the market for portable glass-bottomed paddling pools on stilts. The lawn might handle that a bit better! – Lisa Nov 21 '11 at 3:55
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    I'd buy one! I move ours every day in the summer - it's smaller than yours, but still hard work. – Rory Alsop Nov 21 '11 at 10:57
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    lisa, i appreciate your answer, but if it's so dead then how come the area almost completely recovers by the time each May comes round? is that self seeding? and if it is all through self seeding, then how come the less stressed outer area recovers quicker than the more stressed centre? you would think if it's just reseeding then it would all recover at the same rate – Tea Drinker Nov 21 '11 at 20:20
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    move the pool? crikey, even when i've emptied all but the last 1% (emptying which takes about a day in itself) i can barely move this monster. it's 15 feet wide. – Tea Drinker Nov 21 '11 at 20:21
  • @TeaDrinker I hasten to say I'm not an expert. I imagine the edges "recover" quicker because that's where the grass runners start re-entering the dead zone first. So I wouldn't call it reseeding, rather reclamation of prior growing space by the action (vegetative reproduction) of underground runners (stolons and/or rhizomes depending on grass species). – Lisa Nov 22 '11 at 1:35
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Lay a circle of artificial lawn in its place, then put the pool on top of that next summer.

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Since it's a permanent summer installation, it shades out the soil, kills the grass and the sod basically rots away so there is no ability for regrowth. You're not going to ever have a lawn under there, grass cannot establish itself well enough during the part of the year you don't have the pool installed.

You could do what farmers do for the off season, plant cover crop. A mixture of barley, crimson clover and short bean fava scratched into the soil would provide cover protection. When you're ready to bring out the pool, mow the cover crop down and throw it on your compost heap for the garden. These mixtures are made up of plants that will readily take root in bare soil, but aren't perniciously durable once their purpose is finished.

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Astro turf or put a membrane down lay turf in a circle. When it comes time for pool to be replaced in summer, roll up the newly laid turf. Keep watered through summer ready for re laying when pool is finished for the season.
Those are my thoughts. My daughter has exactly the same problem. All the best Di

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First off I know this post is old, but i am a professional landscaper by trade, 20+years. If you cut out a circle of grass to replace when you are done with the pool for the summer. You will have to water that circle of grass twice a day, or it will die also. It needs soil to keep cool/Warm, and also to keep the roots from drying out, and keep nutrients to the roots. So doing this to keep one circle of grass alive would be more work than moving the pool everyday.

That being said, if you are going to plant any kind of ground cover as in suggested above, clover, barley, ivy, etc, make sure you make the diameter of the circle, square, rectangle or whatnot, already a foot or two larger than the pool all around.ground cover will spread quickly to find Sun and "IT WILL" take over your lawn fast. So my suggestion making the diameter larger is to put landscaping fabric down in the cut out area to keep the roots of the ground cover from spreading and also put some sort of edging to keep the roots of the ground cover at bay, and not able to creep into the law. 3rd when your grass grows back like you say, i guarantee most of it is weeds, and not actual graas, weeds.spread much faster than actual real grass.

Grass will spread but not as fast and seed cover. You could buy a bag of grass seed and throw some seed all in the area, scratch the dirt with a cultivator or a heavy duty metal rake, than seed, than take a little more and take the seed in. Also water every.day for.the first two weeks, twice a day for 20 minutes min, and water in early morning, or just at dusk.

I think your best bet is Astor turf, or that outdoor rig stuff they use in boats and outdoor patios sometimes. If you dont maintain it with fertilizers three times a season, seeding in fall, and spring, weed control, then i again guarantee your whole.lawn is weeds and not grass. And if that's the case who cares about the dirt spot. Paint it green with green spray paint.

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Here's an idea for a 10' pool:

1.) Build a platform out of 10' 15/32" plywood and 10' 2x4'. Space the joists 16" apart.

2.) Cover the platform with 3 mil plastic sheeting. Only staple it around the sides so that you don't have staples in contact with the floor of the pool

3.) Place 4 11' treated 4x4s on the grass where you want the pool placed. Space them so they are evenly spaced with the two on the outside about 4 inches from the edge of the pool.

4.) Place 6 2" 10' steel pipes on top of the 2x4's. Space them so they are evenly spaced with the two on the outside about 4 inches from the edge of the pool. These act as the wheels of your rolling platform so allow them to roll freely.

5.) Place the platform on top of the steel pipes so that the joists of the platform are perpendicular to the pipes. Screw 4 6" sections of 2x4 into the tops of the 4x4's in order to keep the two outside pipes from rolling.

6.) Put the pool on top of the platform and fill it up with water.

7.) Every day, remove two of the short 2x4s and place 4 11' 4x4s next to the platform. Push the entire platform over onto them. You'll need to move the pipe as the platform rolls off of them. Resecure the 2x4s onto the new 4x4.

8.) Pick up the previous 4x4s and let the grass breath under them for a day.

If you move the platform back and forth every day and adjust where the 4x4s are placed each time you may be able to avoid killing your lawn.

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In Pacific Northwest USA we often don't have a frost until sometime in mid to late October and it's getting later and later every year. You can take down the pool in August, till the ground, and plant some fall crops without disturbing anything you might already have growing.

Here are some fall crop ideas: http://modernfarmer.com/2015/07/how-to-plant-fall-garden/

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You wanna hear what I would do? Which involves a bit of work, which I find fun. Dig it all up within the circle, till it and loosen it all up. Then dig into your grass, mix it around in the loosened dirt, itll cut down on what you have a bit but when it rains and presses it all down you will have random grass roots spread all around. During the tilling you should also throw grass seed into the mix..

Most people just throw grass seed in their yard and let birds eat it and bugs carry it all away. If you till that patch up and mix grass seed all in it, I gaurantee the grass will grow. Dont let people tell you its all dead. No thats not the case, people dont realise since that ground was covered up, that soil is gonna be nice and rich. You can grow the grass back in no time.

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    This I realise was 5 years ago, but to anybody else having this problem, It will help out greatly. – brandon Jun 22 '17 at 12:38
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I like the cover crop idea and I think it has merit. However, it if was me, I'd take this perfect circle and lay down smooth pebble, build a removable fire pit in the center and put nice chairs around it. Use it as a fire pit in the winter and in the summer, remove the pit and chairs, lay some type of padding over the pebbles, maybe like those outdoor rugs, cut to fit, and put the pool back up.

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You might have some luck by building an elevated platform of a couple feet, but the net result is the same under the pool. Lack of sun stops the growth. Of course, you might need a safety net getting down since it'd be so high!

  • Given that water weighs 10 lbs per gallon you would need some industrial strength supports for your average pool – kevinsky Aug 16 '13 at 13:05
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My suggestion is similar to another answer but a little further. Measure out the base of your pool and where it will go. BEFORE you setup your pool, cut & remove the grass circle where your pool will go. Outline it first and make sure you go 1-2 inches down that way you can roll it up like sod and keep it all as 1 piece. It may actually be easier to do as a square instead of a round section like your pool. You'll want to have a place where you can store this sod piece and keep it watered all summer while being removed to keep it alive. You can use a baby pool and keep a little water in it or you can store it on a bed of newspaper, watering every few days enough to soak the paper to keep the grass alive. The trick is when you put your pool away at the end of the season, you'll be able to replace the section of sod you removed and within a week or two, it'll reattach itself to your lawn.

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