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: been thinking about putting in a pond

10-04-2005, 01:17 PM
I have a large very private back yard that would be perfect for a pond for swimming and looking at. Being cheap and short on cash I was wondering if I could dig a decent pond (20 to 30 ft in diameter) using my Caddigger (which is a backhoe). I know I could dig a big hole in the ground (my digger will dig at least 6-7 feet deep) but I have several questions that I would like some input on.

1. How do I move the dirt to a lower area of my property? the lower area is about 100 feet away and while thats not far that is alot of dirt to move without a dozer or something. In the interest of being cheap I was thinking of converting one of my trailers to a dump trailer and just hauling it there. I am not sure how many trips it would take since the trailer would be about 5ft by 8 ft with 2 ft sides. Or would I be better off using a Johnny Bucket type scoop to move it and forget the trailer conversion.

2. How could I smooth the edges and bottom to make it nice to look at as well as swim in. Until it fills up I could probably use my brothers box blade but if it rains at the wrong time that option goes away.

3. should I use some of the dirt to build up a rim around it to:

A. not have to move as much of the dirt and

B. Have a deeper pond than my digger can dig (maybe 9-10 ft).

I have a creek in the back of my property and the land naturally drains that way so I am not concerned about the pond flooding the house basement since the pond will be between the house and the creek. I have just never done this before and don't want to make too big of a mess that costs me big $ to have someone else fix. I have plenty of time to work on it since I work at home and own the digger so I can work at my own pace. I always thought that if I only got half way done and it rained alot I could always start digging again from the bank to enlarge the pond even with water in it. It would just be hard to smooth the bottom out while its underwater.

If I can get a plan in place this will be next summers project so I have some time to finish plans and get the trailer built etc. I wondered if any of you guys had done this or knew how to do this and could give me pointers.

Sorry for the long post but after seeing all of Wingnuts pictures I felt kinda safe doing it. ROF


10-04-2005, 03:00 PM

Chip should be along to the rescue shortly...... ROF ROF ROF.

He da pond man!

Uncle Greg

10-04-2005, 03:29 PM
Welllllllll, your questions are hard to answer.......So
Yes, you could use your cad digger to dig youir pond, and you certainly could use a trailer to transport it.......But I for one no matter how bad I wanted a pond would not go to those extremes..but I do know an individual that "hand dug" an inground swimming pool with an 8 foot deep end and only used a shovel, pick and wheelbarrow to do it, in hard packed prairie clay no less......I know of folks that used a box blade to scrape out a pond, but its still a lot of work..... I would think if the soil is not rocky, or full of shale you could rent a bobcat with front bucket with teeth and it would do a fair job........I have dug a lot of holes of substantial size with a bobcat over the years, but the best bet and probbaly the chepaest in the long run is find someone with a smallish sized dozer and go for it..a few hours will do it and not be overly high priced......even a JD350 would do fine.

Now, does your soil have the capability to hold water and not be too permeable? Before I would go to the trouble and $$$ to merely dig a huge hole I would take a few soil samples from varous depths in and around the area your considering to dig and have it analyized for content.....nothing worse than having a pond that seeps water......

I would not make shallow tapering sides, but make the sides 3 to 5 feet deep at a minimum at the maximum angle the soil when wet and pond filled with water willl sustain..(about 45 deg or better) as if your sides are too shallow and h ave a long taper to them you'll be plagued with aquatic weeds in short order, and on top of that it only takes a bit of water loss (with evaporation or seeping) to really make a large area dry up around the edges..not good......

You can't arbitrarily just dump fresh dirt on old dirt and build it up for a *** either, as odds are it will leak in short order, maybe a few months or a year or two but its gonna leak on you..You have to remove some dirt making usre you get rid of all organic materials like grass etc, and loosen it all up, l;ay in a layer of good clay or sodium bentonite then add fresh clay based soils or dirt on top in 6 to 8 inch layers and compact thouroughly...Any organic mateirqals will eventually rot and leave channels which water will enter and soon it turns into a seep and then a massive leak......Unless a breast or raised berm with water behind it is build correctly, its a crap shoot and usually is a problem sooner or later...

Deep water up to a certain point also stays cooler in summer and warmer in winter, which is good if you ever decide to put fish init. Consideration has to be given to runoff and how the pond will be filled.....Survey the area around it and see how it lays in relation to the pond site, so your not relying on rain in the hole alone to fill it, but also be aware that fertilizers, weedkillers and anything else in the area that may runoff into the ponds water zone is also going to go into your pond in the end.

You'll need a spillway and that too has to be constructed properly, with the right materials or it will wash. Concrete is the best material for a spillway but may ponds are built with dirt and clay and sod......

If you have decent soil which will hold water, I wold not worry about making it smooth and slick. You can run a disk harrow or plow rows in it, and within a month or two it will all level itself out with water motion.

Check with your county agriculture extension agent. A lot of states agents have books on pond building that is applicable to your area, and some will even have a agent come out and survey and do a site analysist for you for free or a very minimal charge.....Here in Alabama, the Bureau of Water and land Management in conjunction with the county ag agent will stake out your site and give you elevations and suggestions and provide a soil analysis for $25.00. They will lay out your pond with flagging stakes (little flags on wires) and set your water level elevaton height with a stake, and also figure out your runoff or fill ratio in regards to surounding land area. Mine is 4:1 so I get 4 inches in the pond with 1 inch of rain. Actually its a bit higher than 4, but not quite 5.

This runoff ratio is important as if your relying on rainfall and do not get a lot in a year its not uncommon to loose 1 to 3 or more inches of water a month with wind and heat evaporation and normal seeping, so a pond can go down quick if you rely on strictly what falls in the pond to fill it.....Even the best of made ponds with 100% clay liners will leak.......its normal, well not actually leak but loose water. Also consider silt buildup, as anytime water flows onm the ground into a pond its carrying solids, and over time they can fill up a pond or make a shallow boggy muddy area at the inlet so a means of checking flow with small raised ridges to slow flow and allow silt to dropout before it enters a natural pond is a good idea. Just merely a few rows of pavers or bricks or some large egg sized gravel in a trench that is filled to ground level in which water flows over to enter pond is one way to do it, is cheap and it works, and its easy to redo if it gets to the point of being filled in with silt, muich easier than pumping a pond and waiting for it to dry and digging out accumulated silt. Leaves and other organics will also be a problem in adding to the water quality over time and also be a fuel for algae blooms. The bigger the body of water the easier it is to keep stabilized. Small shallow bodies are too susceptible to temp and weather changes and heat up to o quick in summer and are usually plagued with heavy algae blooms, espeically if there is no aeration in the pond, by means of a fountain etc.

Best bet is check with country ag agent for info pertaining to your area.

Ponds are nice, can be a lot of work if you want to keep it right, algae is going to be problem, and as much as i enjoy fiddling around my ponds, there are still many times I wish it was grass instead of ahole with water........

10-04-2005, 03:35 PM
quick home made pond story. i have a stream running through behind my property so when i was 12 or so (hormones raging) i decided to build a swimming hole branched off of the stream. this was sure to attract all of the hot bikini clad girls in town right? it took me about 2 weeks digging by hand then i dragged an old picnic table and "borrowed" my parents tiki torches. after pleading i finally got a girl to check it out and she wasnt there a minute after being eaten alive by all the bugs! ROF

10-04-2005, 04:02 PM
heres a link with about a million pictures of my 'pond project'

10-05-2005, 10:19 AM
Thanks Chipmaker for the expert advice. I knew someone on here would know about this stuff. Looks like I have more research to do. On the good side my area has lots of ponds that the owners don't seem to have many problems with. We have lots of clay in our soil. I hadn't thought about how to compact the ridge to make sure it doesn't leak using my equipment. Obviously I need to talk to some more local guys who do this kind of work.

Drainage will not be a problem since the ground naturally flows to the creek in the back. On other ponds around here most people seem to use some type of buried drainage pipe that is buried in the bank on the low side of the pond towards the creek to handle excess water. I was thinking of rerouting the downspouts from the house into the pond since they currently flow via underground drainage tile to the creek through the same area I plan on putting the pond.

Simple John - I loved the pics of your pond project. thanks for the link. I was wondering how large your pond is and if you have any problems like Chipmaker mentioned with algea blooms etc since you have trees so close to the pond. mine will end up like yours because I have woods surronding my backyard and I had intended to put the pond near one side which has lots of mature trees. I think it will look great but I don't want to cause myself problems later.


10-05-2005, 10:25 AM
Simple John - I loved the pics of your pond project. thanks for the link. I was wondering how large your pond is and if you have any problems like Chipmaker mentioned with algea blooms etc since you have trees so close to the pond. mine will end up like yours because I have woods surronding my backyard and I had intended to put the pond near one side which has lots of mature trees. I think it will look great but I don't want to cause myself problems later.


its not too large.. maybe 60 * 80 feet if i had to guess...

as for algae blooms... Well earlier this year.. my pond looked horrible.. there was all algae growing on the surface... im pretty sure this is due to not enough flowage in the pond.. it stays full but thee is no current or aeration...

BUT... my pup has discovered swimming.. so now every time he goes in the yard.. he jumps in the pond... Ive basically turned him into a little pond aerator... I toss toys into the pond he swims through the algae mess and after him doing this for about a month or so.. i can proudly say.. my ponds surface is totally clear of algae...


god only knows what my pup has caught from this... ROF but the pond is clear..

10-05-2005, 12:22 PM
Ponds are good. You'll discover critters ya never knew ya had when the word gets out to the animal kingdom that a new watering hole is in town. ROF

The wife put a pretty good size fountain on the front porch a couple of years ago and within three nights we heard a commotion on the front porch and wouldn't ya know it, there was a bobcat standing on the fountain wall leaning over and getting a drink. :fing20: I didn't run him off because we had been having racoons around the place on and off and they were causing some minor damage to the out-buildings, etc.. Not taking the hint, the wife then installed another fountain on the other end of the porch (long porch - 40') and now the bobcat, squirrels, and other critters have a choice of two watering holes each night. Kind of like bar hopping. ROF We've even had a couple of deer sipping water out of the fountain on the far end of the porch; however, it is a rare event when the deer show up on the porch.

bontai Joe
10-05-2005, 01:41 PM
I can second what Ed says about the critters showing up. My brother has a small pond with some Koi in it (5 feet x 12 feet x 4 feet deep). The raccoons think it's a fast food place for them. The mama bear and her cubs come down for a drink occassionally. Plus all the snakes, lizards and frogs stop by as well.

10-06-2005, 04:27 PM

I like your idea of the dog aerator. My dog is no pup but still likes to swim around on hot days in the summer. now he likes to go in the creek and smells to high heaven cause someone upstream obviously has a bad filter bed and just piped the flow to the creek.

I have also read that there are chemicals that you can put in a pond to keep mosquitoes and plants down. I don't really care if I have fish in it or not. just want it to look nice and maybe swim in.


10-06-2005, 05:19 PM
I have also read that there are chemicals that you can put in a pond to keep mosquitoes and plants down. I don't really care if I have fish in it or not. just want it to look nice and maybe swim in.


heres a link where chip and others posted about pond dye to keep the plants down... (

as for swimming in my pond... mine is still sort of mucky.. maybe its the clay bottom i dont know.. id feel ooky going in...