Can You Put a Hot Tub on Grass? (No. Here’s why & what to do)

It’s an exciting day when you first decide to get a hot tub. But when you’re trying to decide where to put it, you’re likely to wonder can you put a hot tub on grass?

Having owned 4 hot tubs, this is what I’ve discovered over the years:

No. You should not put a hot tub on grass or even on bare ground. With water and people, a hot tub can easily weigh over 5,000 lbs. Over time, this will cause the ground to settle. But it’s not likely to settle evenly, resulting in an unlevel hot tub which can lead to stress fractures in the frame and shell.

But that’s just a quick answer.

There’s a lot more to know about hot tubs and where to put them. Including the 1 exception I cover below that does allow a hot tub to be placed on the grass.

Let’s examine in greater detail.

Can you put a hot tub on the ground?

Bare ground cannot indefinitely support the weight of a permanent hot tub that can weigh in around 5,000 pounds.

When filled with water, all this weight sits on a footprint of just 12 square feet. A fully weighted tub can sink into the ground. And chances are, it won’t sink evenly across the whole hot tub.

That will leave you with an unlevel hot tub over time.

Also, an unstable base places a great deal of stress on the hot tub frame and the shell itself. When full of water, the chances of the shell warping or even cracking are greatly increased. That’s because the shell and frame are designed to distribute that weight evenly.

When a hot tub becomes unlevel, more weight is shifted to certain areas than others.

The ground area where your hot tub will be placed should be leveled by digging up the grass.

Then decide on what type of base you’ll be using:

  • Concrete
  • Crushed stone
  • Pea gravel
  • Pavers
  • Or a deck with adequate structural support

For pavers, gravel, or stone, you’ll want to first dig down 6″ and then put down a layer of sand first.

Keep in mind; ground varies from location to location. If your home is located on low-lying land with soft soil and possibly subject to flooding, you will have more to consider than if you live on higher ground in an area of solid rock.

But where to put a hot tub is just one of 23 crucial things to know before you buy!

To learn all you should know if you are a first-time hot tub buyer, please review my recent article on buying your first hot tub.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Looking to get a quote on a new hot tub?

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How do you prepare the ground for a hot tub?

It’s important to have an extremely strong and supportive base that won’t move or break up under the strain of the weight of a fully-loaded tub.

A portable hot tub needs a solid platform such as concrete (ideally) to support the combined weight of the tub, the water, and the occupants.

The base surface must be stable regardless of whether it’s a concrete slab, a reinforced deck, or firmly compacted soil with gravel or crushed stone.

The ideal base for a hot tub is a four-inch to six-inch concrete pad installed on a base of around four inches of crushed gravel.

Again, this depends on the type of land your house is located on. The requirements for a hot tub base for a house built on low-lying loose soil are different from those of a house built on a rocky, elevated location, 

To maximize the strength and stability of the base, make sure that it extends beyond the hot tub base at least six inches on all sides.

If pouring a new concrete pad is out of the budget, a base of patio pavers on top of sand makes for a solid, and much more budget-friendly, alternative.

What should you put a hot tub on?

A hot tub can be placed on a concrete pad, crushed stone or gravel, a sundeck, paver stones, or spa pad. 

A lot of people think a poured concrete pad is best, and that’s not always true. In fact, there’s 1 situation where that’s definitely not true!

To learn more, I have a recent article that answers the question: does a hot tub have to sit on concrete. Just click that link to read it on my site.

The choice you make depends on several things including:

  • The topography of your garden
  • Type of ground your house and yard are built on
  • Your budget
  • Where you want the hot tub located

If setting up a hot tub on grass, it is very important to dig up the grass and topsoil of the location where your tub will sit and dig down about 6 inches.

It is important to then put down 2-3 inches of sand. Then, you have to tamp down the sand before laying down the paving stones, gravel, or crushed stone.

For tamping, you can rent a jumping jack from the Home Depot Tool Rental department. Just click that link to reserve one now at the Home Depot near you.

If you want your hot tub close to the house and you have a deck, it is wise to have the deck structure examined by an engineer or a specialist. That will help ensure its safe for the weight of a fully-loaded tub.

The good news is a deck can be fairly easily reinforced to hold a hot tub. Or your deck might already be structurally ready for a hot tub.

Luckily, in a recent article, I walk you through exactly what you need to do to check your deck to see if it can hold one. And I also give you the exact blueprint for how my deck is reinforced to hold my hot tub.

And I walk you through the steps to do it. Just click that link to read it on my site.

Can you put an inflatable hot tub on grass?

An inflatable hot tub can be temporarily placed on grass, lawn, or the ground but only for a day –  or two at the most.

The emphasis is on temporary!

If it’s an inflatable tub you are renting for a weekend party, the answer is maybe.  Inflatable tubs can be temporarily placed on a grass surface or solid ground with the following caveats;

  • It should be compact
  • Free of rocks, stones, and sticks
  • Be relatively level

Your grass also needs sunlight to remain healthy. Placing something heavy on the grass for more than a day or 2 could kill the grass. At best, the grass will turn yellow and be ugly for months. 

Plus, believe it or not, but as grass grows, it can eventually puncture a cheap vinyl hot tub. That’s the reason above-ground vinyl pools come with a liner to set on the ground first.

What is the best base for a hot tub?

Now that it’s very clear why it’s so important to give your hot tub a good, solid base, let’s examine the best bases, taking into account the size of your wallet. 

No matter what kind of base you choose, having it be level is probably the most important aspect. 

As we mentioned above, when a hot tub isn’t level, it can easily cause stress fractures in the shell and frame. But the water leaning to one side is also pretty annoying. 

Luckily, I break down how to make sure your base is level in a recent article. But I even get into what to do if it’s not level, or if the hot tub later becomes unlevel. Just click that link to read it on my site.

The following runs from most budget-friendly to the most expensive.

Gravel

With its low cost and ability to provide constant drainage, gravel is a popular choice with many hot tub owners. So is crushed stone. What is the difference between gravel and crushed stone? Gravel is more rounded and often smaller than crushed stone.

Both are available in various sizes ranging in diameter from a quarter of an inch up to two inches.

Before installation, a good solid tamped down ground base is required. Water can be drained from the hot tub with ease through gravel. A big plus is it will not end up cracking over time like concrete.

Gravel also molds to the base, creating a solid, firm platform for sitting and is relatively inexpensive.

I get into more detail on a gravel base in this recent article. Not only do I walk you through step by step. But I also give you how much of a cost savings it is over concrete.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Pre-made base

A spa-pad is a prefabricated composite hot tub base that allows you to quickly set up a hot tub anywhere on an existing platform, deck, solid base, or concrete base. 

A product such as Handi Spa Hot Tub Deck Foundation (click to see the current price on Amazon) has six included pads that lock together with built-in connectors to create an 8 x 8 hot tub pad that is chemical and temperature resistant and it never requires maintenance.

It can also be used to protect existing wood, concrete, stone or paver patio decks.

It distributes the load of the spa evenly over the pad. And is strong enough to take the weight of a full tub and the people enjoying the tub experience.

Decking

A deck only a few steps above ground and built to code will be able to support 100 lbs per square foot. Most hot tubs come in right around that figure. So if your deck is less than 2 feet off the ground, you’re probably just fine.

That’s again, assuming it was well-built and still in good shape. When in doubt, pay an engineer or building inspector to verify it.

However, if you want your tub on a deck more than a couple of feet above ground or on the upper level of a deck, things get more complicated. 

This will require the deck to be reinforced under the area where the hot tub will be. Check out my video which walks you through that process.

Paver stones

Pavers are attractive and can be used with a few simple precautions. 

If using pavers, select ones that are smooth and without ridges. I did my hot tub on pavers at my last house and loved it. Pavers are cheap (especially these from Home Depot which is what I used).

This is needed to properly support the weight of the hot tub. It pays to spend a few dollars consulting a professional contractor before embarking on installing this type of base. 

Once your pavers are set into place, then sand needs to be brushed into the gaps between each paver to securely lock them into place.

Here’s what my hot tub looked like on pavers at my last house:

Concrete

Concrete is sturdy and long-lasting and expensive. If you have an existing poured back patio, this is the best option, hands down. 

If you are starting from scratch laying a concrete pad on your back lawn, first remove all the grass and dig down at least eight inches to prepare the base layer with crushed stone. 

Build forms for the tub pad footings by placing two by ten-inch lumber around the outside of the trench.

Secure them in place with wooden stakes and use additional bracing as wet concrete is heavy. Wait for the concrete to be completely dry and cured before installing the hot tub. Typically that would be 30 days.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about whether it’s OK to put a hot tub on grass?

So, what sort of base do you need for your hot tub?  A concrete base is ideal. Alternatively, a terrace or patio, a gravel area, or a decking area are lower-cost options. 

Always keep in mind hot tubs are really heavy when full of water and people so any base needs to be extremely sturdy. It’s also important the base is completely level to avoid placing a strain on the hot tub and to also keep the water level.

Building the base correctly the first time is the key to many happy years of hot tub enjoyment.

The right base will enable your hot tub to last longer, be more economical and more comfortable to use. The wrong base could lead to expensive damage to your hot tub or property and possibly your guests.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, hot tub lover, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market.

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