I finally started my pond

   / I finally started my pond #1  

bindian

Super Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2007
Messages
8,364
Location
Willis, Texas
Tractor
Mahindra 6520 4WD
It took my Mother dying to get me off my butt and dig my pond. The cementary she is buried in has a large pond with an island and several ducks and geese. Even a Mud Hen! So I told my daughter it was digging time. We had mallards when I was little and now I will have them again. Along with Channel Catfish. I thought I would be digging a lot of the pond with my backhoe. But too my surprise, I have dug down to about 5 feet with my 84 inch wide loader bucket. When the bucket gets full of clay, I see it just rolling over and over as I creep forward in low 1st gear.:cool: I could go deeper just using the loader bucket, but the pond basin is too small to turn around safely. I don't even have a tooth bar.:rolleyes: The ML 275 KMW loader on my Mahindra 6520 4WD is absolutely a tough mule.:D I have heard all kinds of noises coming from it while moving full buckets of damp clay.:eek: Every day I rinse off the attachment welds and check for cracks........none so far. ;) So I am now in the process of backhoeing about half the 30 x 60 foot pond out to a depth of 10 or 12 feet.:) I really haven't decided. I keep reading conflicting information on small pond depths.:confused:
hugs, Brandi
 

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   / I finally started my pond #2  
Hey Brandi,

A few things that I've learned about how deep to make a pond. Most of the fish spend their time at 4 feet of water or less. Since ponds drop in level during dry times, the deeper the pond, the longer you can go between rains and still have enough water in the pond for the fish.

Then there is the 6foot rule for plants. If the pond is less then 6 feet deep, water plants can take it over. Water more then 6 feet deep stops just about all plants from being able to grow in the water. My big pond is 8 feet to 12 feet deep. I wanted that depth to control the plants more then I was worried about the fish. In my area, there are ponds and massive lakes that are choked full of water lilies. Once they get established, it's a better to keep them under control.

The steepness of the bank also has allot to do with keeping the invasive water plants under control. The quicker that the water gets down to 6 feet, the less shoreline plants that you will have.

How will you fill the pond? do you have good drainage to it? Or can you improve your drainage? I built roads that catch water that would have gone past my ponds and now that water follows the ditches along the roads to a culvert that feeds into my pond. This is an ongoing process that I'm constantly looking for ways to make even better.

Keep us updated and thanks for the pics,
Eddie
 
   / I finally started my pond #3  
Hi Brandi,

I was just thinking I hadn't read a post from you and here you are...

Nothing like a nice pond, no matter what size. Your certainly providing inspiration!

Keep the pictures coming.
 
   / I finally started my pond #4  
Glad to see someone doing what i want to do. BUT Head Honcho Suzie says NO pond-typical Venus thinking. So maybe seeing your work and some time to get others to say things like why don't you build a pond? And maybe even a property appraisal with notes of added value of pond. Keep pictures coming.
 
   / I finally started my pond
  • Thread Starter
#5  
Hey Brandi,

A few things that I've learned about how deep to make a pond. Most of the fish spend their time at 4 feet of water or less. Since ponds drop in level during dry times, the deeper the pond, the longer you can go between rains and still have enough water in the pond for the fish.

Then there is the 6foot rule for plants. If the pond is less then 6 feet deep, water plants can take it over. Water more then 6 feet deep stops just about all plants from being able to grow in the water. My big pond is 8 feet to 12 feet deep. I wanted that depth to control the plants more then I was worried about the fish. In my area, there are ponds and massive lakes that are choked full of water lilies. Once they get established, it's a better to keep them under control.

The steepness of the bank also has allot to do with keeping the invasive water plants under control. The quicker that the water gets down to 6 feet, the less shoreline plants that you will have.

How will you fill the pond? do you have good drainage to it? Or can you improve your drainage? I built roads that catch water that would have gone past my ponds and now that water follows the ditches along the roads to a culvert that feeds into my pond. This is an ongoing process that I'm constantly looking for ways to make even better.

Keep us updated and thanks for the pics,
Eddie
Eddie,
I am planning on 3 feet deep shores, but now may go deeper, from what you mentioned above. The pond is so narrow, if I sloped everything 3:1, I would not have any deep water. I might have screwed up. With the dam at 3 feet or so, I came away from the dam 3 feet and then went down 10 (max depth) straight down. I have only did this on half of the deep end. Did I screw up with my hard packed clay?
This is shown in the first photo. Also, the non-dam sides will be cut down straight with no slope to around 5 feet. The second photo shows the leveling device I am using and the third photo is on the bulkhead around the cedar tree and pet graves. The slow steady drizzling 1/3 inch rain the other day put 6 inches in the basin about 12 x 16 feet. I think that was good. I can divert my road ditch to fill it, but the water company purges their system in it and I don't want chlorine in the water after fish get stocked. I have also been thinking about berming around the yard (it is really in my back yard) upsteam to divert water into the pond.
hugs, Brandi
 

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   / I finally started my pond
  • Thread Starter
#6  
Hi Brandi,

I was just thinking I hadn't read a post from you and here you are...

Nothing like a nice pond, no matter what size. Your certainly providing inspiration!

Keep the pictures coming.

Ultrarunner,
Thanks! Glad I can inspire at least online. I have been busying building a ferret cage for a Christmas present.
hugs, Brandi
 

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   / I finally started my pond
  • Thread Starter
#7  
Glad to see someone doing what i want to do. BUT Head Honcho Suzie says NO pond-typical Venus thinking. So maybe seeing your work and some time to get others to say things like why don't you build a pond? And maybe even a property appraisal with notes of added value of pond. Keep pictures coming.

Ctpres,
Tell the Mrs. that a pond can be a place for quiet times for the two of you and also all the romantic full moon nights y'all can have there. Ponds designed and landscaped properly will increase the value of your place.
Here a photo to give you an idea of the size of my pond. My loader bucket is 7 foot wide. The bent oak on the right will be able to sit on and fish. The bulkhead for the cedar is on the left.
 

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   / I finally started my pond #8  
Just a couple of quick points. I wouldn't advise going any steeper than 2:1 on the inside of the pond slopes. The sides will eventually cave in. Dirt just doesn't want to stay in place if it is that steep. 1-1/2:1 is even pushing it. You look like you have good sandy-clay soil,which should hold water well. The other point is you are better off to actually divert any water run off around your pond. The reason being that this run off will carry large amounts of soil in a hard rain and eventually over time silt in your pond. If you have a spring that can feed it thats the way to go. Of course maybe the run off is your only source and techneques vary regionally throughout the country. Run off water might be an acceptable way to keep your pond filled. From you pictures you can go steeper on the one slope,but not as steep on the other slope. Also the dryer you can keep your pond while under construction the easier it wil be to build. Once things get wet sometimes you won't be able to get in to move material with the machine you are using. Sounds like it will be nice once completed. Keep the pictures coming and work safely.

Good luck and enjoy your pond!

Sincerely, Dirt

P1010336.jpg
 
   / I finally started my pond #9  
Brandi,

3ft might be a little shallow if you lose any water to evaporation. On both of my ponds, I can lose an inch to four inches in a week. In a hot, windy month, they can drop a foot if it doesn't rain. The problem with being shallow is when the water drops a foot, it will be too shallow for the fish to survive. The water will get hot and the oxygen levels will drop.

Just thought about that. Small ponds with fish in them will need oxygen introduced into the water if there's not a good, semi regular source of water coming in. Fish require oxygen to "breath" in water. In small ponds, they will use it up after awhile. How long depends on how many fish you have and how much oxygen is introduced naturally to the water.

If you see fish coming to the surface, look to see if they are gulping air. It will look like they are feeding on the surface, but there isn't any food. They are getting air for the oxygen. This is the early sign that the water is low on oxygen. Keeping the numbers of fish down and in balance for the size of your pond will help with this, but you can't stop them from breeding, so it's going to be an ongoing part of owning the pond.

In nature, when water flows over the ground, it splashes and adds oxygen to the water. Just splashing water in the pond will do this with a fountain or water fall. If you do that, then your good to go. If not, you might want to consider a system to add bubbles to the water. There are windmills that do this with a tube or pope that runs into the pond and has little holes in it. An air compressor can do this too.

The ten foot hole is just the type of contour and shape that the fish love in a pond. The worse thing that you can do is dig a smooth, "pretty" looking hole in the ground for your pond. The fish want a change of depth, drop offs and holes. The predators will go to those areas to hunt and the feeder fish will use them for hiding. When you are done digging, you will also want to add "structure" to your pond for those feeder fish to live in. Things like pallets, branches, stumps, pipes, bricks and just about any type of junk that wont' pollute the water is what the fish want and need to do well. You can go to Pond Boss Magazine Home Page! for more ideas for structure. Some posts will show pictures, others are just discussions on it. One guy over there just finished his pond and put all sorts of satellite dishes on his pond bottom for structure. It looks like some sort of Lunar Space Station!!!



The 3:1 slope is for the angle of the inside of the dam. This angle is where you get the width of your dam so it will be strong and heavy enough to hold back the water in your pond. For the shoreline, you can go as steep as you want, or I should say, as steep as your soil will stay in place. One option is to build a retaining wall to get more depth quickly. You could go straight down at the shoreline several feet with the wall and also add more surface area of the water. It's more money, but in the long run, it's more important to build something you really want and not what you have to live with.

As for chlorine in the water, there shouldn't be a problem with your pond. What the water utilities do is add it to kill off bacteria and make it safe for humans to drink. If you have gold fish and use that water to fill their water, it will kill them if you put them in the water right away. For this purpose, you can buy other chemicals to make the water safe, but most people just buy bottled water to make their fish safe. Another thing that they could do is to just let the water sit for a few days and the chlorine will drop to a safe level for the fish naturally. The amount of chlorine in tap water is so small that it only affects the fish when "ALL" of their water is tap water and it's fresh from the tap. In your pond, most of the water will be rain water or water that has been sitting there for a period of time. Adding a few inches of tap water to several feet of existing water will not add enough chlorine to the pond to be measurable. The fish wont notice it at all as it will be diluted to a level that it's almost not even there. Then a few days later, the chlorine will be gone from the water completely. If you can get the water company to purge their lines when your pond is low, go for it. I have them do my line in August. I have a six inch water main with a 2 inch valve for purging it. They will open up that valve and let it run for about an hour. In that time, I can see the water level in my 3/4 acre pond rise an inch or two. It depends on how low I am at the time.

Every time it rains here, I'm thinking about what the water is doing and where it's going. I've gone out there in the mud many times just to see what's happening and to look for areas that I can dig down or build up the ground to get more water to my ponds. My ultimate goal is to catch 40 acres of runoff from my 68 acres. I'm getting about half of that right now. I'm also getting water off of my neighbors land, so the actual number of acres that I'm catching is fairly significant. I can't do anything to increase that part of it, but have added berms to areas that had water running off of his land and going in the wrong direction. One of those berms and a small ditch added about five acres of pasture runoff that I'm now catching. It's all a game, and one that I enjoy playing.

One thing that I'm a little concerned about are the trees that you are trying to save along your shoreline. If you are limiting the size of your pond to save those trees, keep in mind that adding a pond to them will increase the odds that they will die from wet roots when the pond fills up. Too much water is very bad for most trees, especially ones that grew up in dry soil and are not used to constant water. It takes two years to happen, but when it does, it's fairly quick. I lost two trees last year that died from this and it looks like theres at least one more thats dead, but I'm not sure until spring on that one. If it doesn't give me any leaves, it's coming out. I didn't limit my pond sized because of trees, but had hoped they would make it in spite of all the water that I was going to add to their soil. The trees that I expected to lose when building the dam and adding the soil to the tops of their root systems have all survived. It's the trees along my shoreline that I didn't add any dirt to that have died. The only explanation is that they are now shoreline trees with wet roots.

I've also found that with owning wooded, timbered land, that I don't miss any tree that I've taken out. Some were really big, beautiful, nice trees that were just in the wrong place. Now that they are gone, it's hard to remember them being there. If you took out those trees that you are trying to save now, can you make your pond bigger? Do you want it bigger? Would that be a good place for a dock?

Eddie
 
   / I finally started my pond #10  
I never built a pond, I have repaired the banks on mine during the drought of 2007. But I was wondering after you dig it out do you have to compact the clay in the pond and the dam?
 
 
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