Found an old pond - needs water

   / Found an old pond - needs water #1  


Veteran Member
Nov 23, 2006
Kubota L6060
I need some guidance.

I bought 90 acres a couple of years ago for both hunting and a future home site. Right now my primary use will be for deer hunting, at least for the next 8-10 years before were ready to move and build. I plan on working on the property this spring doing some cleanup, planting some late season food plots, etc. While walking the property this fall I found what used to be a small pond (maybe 50' x 100') that is silted in, overgrown, and no longer holding water. The only thing my property is missing for deer is a water source and figured getting this old water hole holding water would be a good addition and draw for the deer. The next closest water source is 3/4 mile.

Attached are some pictures that show how overgrown it is. Terraserver has an older topo map that shows water there. Any suggestions as to how to begin this process would be appreciated. I'm at a loss other than clearing the brush and trees. Also, the south berm is full of trees and roots and may be one source of the water leakage. I've got a case DX45 for brush removal, light digging, and silt removal, etc. I can also get an operator and small dozer in as needed. Thanks for any input.

   / Found an old pond - needs water #2  
I am by no means an expert but with all the trees and therefore roots around there and basically no pond anyways, you may be better off finding a more suitable site to build a new pond. Just a thought, but are there any other places that might work?
   / Found an old pond - needs water
  • Thread Starter
Toro there are several areas that would make a nice site, I was just thinking that since it held water at one time I may be able to get a small watering hole holding again without the major expense of larger earthmoving equipment and operators. The pond is not for my enjoyment, only to draw deer so even a small amount of water would be fine. There is a ditch that looks like it is now channeling the water runoff around the pond that can easily be diverted. Also, with all of the large trees and roots growing in and around the main berm, would this be an area of concern for water loss?
   / Found an old pond - needs water #4  
The tree roots may be loosening the ground to let the water escape.

I am told that in the old days, farmers would put pigs in an area they wanted to turn into a pond, and the pigs would pack it down so it would hold water.
   / Found an old pond - needs water #5  
Also, with all of the large trees and roots growing in and around the main berm, would this be an area of concern for water loss?

Yes, any time there is a berm or embankment that is holding back water tree roots are a bad thing. They loosen the dirt, as has been said, and just give water another path to follow. If you were building a dam or berm, you wouldn't even want topsoil, let alone roots and organic material, you would want all clay.

I agree that if it held water at one time it may again, but then again you have to ask, if it held water before, why isn't it holding water now.

I am sure others will chime in, but I am just suggestion you look at all your options. Finding another site and digging a small pond or ditch to hold water may be a cheaper/shorter endeavor.

Whatever you decide the best path, good luck and make sure to keep taking pictures.
   / Found an old pond - needs water #6  
Looks like a nice find. It really depends on how much time you want to put into it. If you want a pond, and who wouldn't? then this is probably the easiest one to create. Taking out the trees shoudl be your first step. Once you get them cleared, then it's just a matter of moving dirt.

It's either silted in, or their is a leak. Either way, it's pretty simple to fix both.

Start clearing the trees with your tractor and see how that goes. Try not to cut down any trees, but see if you can push them over with the roots still on them. It makes a huge difference when useing the weight and leverage of the tree to take out the roots.

You don't want any trees on your dam.

Look at it as a long term commitment. Don't expect to finish it in a year or two. Plan on this year to just clear and clean up the site. Watch what happens when it rains. See where the water goes and how it gets there.

Some ponds can gain allot of rain water with just a little dir up hill, or maybe taking out a little dirt to change the direction that the water flows after a rain. I've gained dozens and dozens of acres of runoff by doing this.

Next year, plan on moving dirt. Taking a full year to look over the site and figure out what you want to do will be time well spent. Digging is always easy, what's hard is getting rid of the dirt. Where you put it and how far it has to go is where you will spend all your time. I like putting dirt behind a dam, but that's not always an option. I built roads that also divert water with dirt from my ponds. Those roads have channeled allot of water to the ponds.

   / Found an old pond - needs water
  • Thread Starter
Eddie the pond is definitely silted in. Its only 3 feet deep to the top of the dam right now. With several large trees, 6" to 10" growing either next to or on top of the dam I'm sure its sprung a leak. I talked to the previous property owner who said it was never maintained and held water until about 8 years ago. Also, I'll take your suggestion on watching the runoff. Right now it looks like the water is probably following a large ditch leading to a ravine off the backside of the dam. It's about 30 feet off the back of the dam and probably 20 feet wide and 12 foot deep. Should provide a good place to get rid of the extra dirt. I'll make sure and get pictures as the adventure begins.
   / Found an old pond - needs water #8  
What part of Missouri are you in? I have a friend who owns a D6 but he is in Southeast Mo near Freder*cktown.
He builds and repairs ponds and does dozer work.
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   / Found an old pond - needs water #9  
The small dozer and operator seem to be the best option to me. I would suggest a crawler loader rather than a dozer blade if at all possible. The first operation is going to be clearing all that brush and trees. The dozer can get that done quickly, while you will work many hours with your tractor. Your DX45 is ideal for debris cleanup and dragging downed trees out of the way after the dozer brings them down. A grapple would also be ideal, with or without the dozer.

I just think you will spend a lot of time doing that job with your tractor. You may have trouble staying ahead of the job since you don't live on the property. In the spring, you could have mudholes and rapidly growing brush to deal with. Getting a small dozer in there now will get the major part of the job done and you can finish with your tractor. That's how I'd approach it.
   / Found an old pond - needs water #10  

As you're aware, the first thing to do is get the site cleared of everything. Once that is done, you should have a much better feel for what caused the demise of the pond and whether a refurbishment is practical or not. Be sure that good quality clay is available at the site for your repair work.

If you have access to a small dozer, you can probably clear that area in a day or so and then have some answers to your questions.

Any areas on the dam where you removed trees should be carefully re-worked. Also if any animal damage is visible carefully re-work that also. The dirt from the basin which is silted in should not be used in the repair work but pushed out of the area. When you get to good clay you have your repair material.

All suspect leak areas should be covered and packed with 2 feet of good clay (USDA says one foot is enough, but I like that extra margin of safety).

Should be a fun project and add value and enjoyment to your land....oh, and did I mention you need good clay?