First, I need to apologize to TJ for the suspense he has had to endure while I he waited for me to finally have a window of time to sit down and put this post together. This is one of his 'babies'. I'm sure he felt like a proud Papa who knew his wife had delivered a baby but wasn't allowed to hear the details, find out the name, or see the little guy till the baby was a month old!!
But I had some difficulty in deciding on whether the project worked or not due to changing weather conditions and then got set back when my mom got the very unexpected news that the blood in her urine late one Saturday night was not a kidney stone but a very large and very ugly kidney cancer. Everything in my life has been more or less on hold as I tried to help her, dad and the family through this. She is home from the hospital, slowly recovering from her operation, and we are all trying to grapple with all the new uncertainties in life.
Certainly the pond has not been in the forefront but I still watch it every day and finally tonight I'm going to try to get this report done. I owe it to TJ to do it and so here it is.
Ground water pond, was dug for street/storm sewer run off about 25 years ago. At the time the excavator said he dug as deep has his trackhoe arm would go and could not punch through the clay in the test hole. The land was vacant and the pond was shallow, always full of green slime, trees fell in it, not maintained by anyone and if there was any fish in there it was from bucket stocking. Probably somewhere along the way people put their pet goldfish in as neighbors report at times hundreds of goldfish in there. Originally about 6' deep, about 1/4 acre
We bought the lot what 4 years ago, cleared the woods through the first fall/winter, and then had the excavator prepare the building site and redig the pond 3 springs ago. This time he did hit a sand vein over in one corner of the pond when he got deeper than the original pond was. So although still mostly a sand clay mix the bottom of the pond had one water vein into the sand. THe incoming water prevented the bulldozer from going down into the bottom of the pond and pushing out the dirt. So they kept the current depth at the time of hitting the vein, about 9' in the middle, and then had the trackhoe on the shore reaching in and finishing the sides to a nice gradual 4-1 or 5-1 run to rise slope.
From the beginning we could see the typical fluctuations of a ground water pond with the rains and the street run off, it comes up a foot, about a week or so later, back down about 6" and depending on how the water table is the pond either stays good, or drops dramatically.
I had a line from the house trenched in so I could fill it at will using a timer and water valve in the house on my house well. I also have a frost free old fashioned pump/hydrant handle out by the pond to fill using a hose but this comes off the same buried line that goes from house to well and off the same house well. 10gpm is about best I can hope for by the time you figure resistance of the line for the 250' to the pond.
I can't run any water in the house when the pond line is running full tilt so I set timer to fill from midnight to say 6am, 5am in the summer when my sprinklers have to go off early. So I have 5-6 hours of fill time. When it is dry in the summer, running every night I could barely budge the pond level. If I only ran a garden hose off the hydrant out by the pond, the smaller flow rate through the hose would allow me to run the shower inside so I could run the hydrant 24/7 and then I could fill the pond more noticeably after running it 24/7 for 4-5 days.
Filling the pond was OK, 3 seasons out of the year not bad, spring and fall rains helped. Winter was bad because if I filled the pond the ice would melt. Kids wanted to skate but the levels in the pond would drop so far by the end of the winter the ice would be like a bowl and the kids would slide into the middle of the bowl and couldn't get out the sides anymore.
It became clear that long term it is no fun filling the pond constantly and what to do in the winter?
I read everything I could on the forum about the SoilFloc and also TJ was very kind one afternoon and answered all my questions in a long phone call Thanks TJ! HE prepared me for everything I needed to do the application myself.
There is a first time for everything!!
We decided to treat the whole pond even though I had an idea where the sand vein was. My goal was to do this once and do it right! I figured if I needed a touch up 2nd application at least the first one would tell me what a full on, complete application the first time around could do and then I would have flexibility to spot treat or do a 2nd application based on my experience the first time.
Supplies: Harbor Freight cheap poly rope, thin is fine, floating is fine, I bought 2 100' sections as my pond is 100' wide (and about 200' long)
I also got 4 5 gallon buckets. It helps to tie a string around the handle of 2 of them or in my case, get 2 different colors (2 white and something other than white for me)
An old row boat is a very good idea. Stability is good, being able to rinse it with a hose and let it sit a bit is good for the challenge of cleanup afterwards.
I filled 4 buckets for starters not wanting to overload the boat but you probably could work with 6 or even 8 if you had a stable boat 14' or bigger.
I also experimented with a hand held, hand crank grass seed applicator.
Some way to mark your progress on the banks of the pond is good. I used a spray can to paint the grass. But you can use snow stakes (1/4" fiberglass ones are easy to put in and take out by hand) You can see the brown stripes in the grass in this picture. This helped the shore crew to know exactly where to stand with the ropes.
Note! I initially marked at 3.5' distances apart. But I forgot that the boat is about 3.5' wide itself so that covers the water 'under the boat' as it goes back and forth across the pond and really you are working to spread out the side of the boat as you sit sideways and are really working in the 3.5' that the product is being thrown out the side of the boat. So my rope crew were really moving to every 2nd mark on the grass as I went to the next pass of product on the pond. So in the future I would have marked it every 7' not every 3.5'
The 3.5' number comes from the application rate of the product. You are throwing a certain amount of product into a 11 sq foot box, a box that is 3.5' by 3.5' So i concentrated on trying to throw the product evenly across a 3.5' width swath. I found out by experience that my grass seed spreader probably covers that 3.5' width exceptionally evenly and perhaps even a bit wider throw, maybe 4-5' I just made sure I threw out a little extra and also the swaths back and forth overlapped a bit so there was plenty and thorough coverage.
From there it was trial and error and learn as you go. I had a man on each side of the pond. I pulled the boat the short axis of the pond back and forth with ropes tied to front and back. If I was being pulled backwards, then the guy holding the rope that was attached to the front was keeping tension on his rope. This kept the boat precisely in place and the man pulling in back could control the speed. We soon learned that a steady but slow hand over hand retrieve of the boat led to the most even application.
It is critical that there be no wind or you won't be able to get an even throw on the product (throwing by hand or by spreader) and the plume on the surface instead of sinking as intended, would all blow to one side and you lose your coverage.
Here is what it looks like after several back and forths. You can see that the areas do overlap and they tend to move a bit on the top (swirl from boat going back and forth and a very slight breath of wind we had that day)
Note that even though we went in straight lines, the product moves a bit, swirls, twists but most of it sinks and does it thing as it goes down.
First application of entire pond done!
TJ can teach anyone who is interested how to do this but basically you get 2oz part A and 2 oz part B and throw A first and B next and then move to the next 'square' and do the same.
this is NOT according to package label but I did do it differently. I put 2 oz of part A and then 2 oz of part B in the grass seed thrower making sure to 'layer' the two parts even in the small hopper. Then I hoped as the agitator went around in the bottom it would mix it on the way out. TJ warned to mix, mix mix and not try to do large portions of A and B without premixing well (meaning no 1 gallon of A on top of 1 gallon of B in a bucket and try to mix all at once) I hoped smaller quantities mixed would work.
I also found that by keeping the boat in steady slow motion across the pond I could also control the flow of the spreader threw the hole at the bottom and could also find a comfortable steady crank speed on the hand crank and get a even coverage. I dialed in the hole at the bottom to a #4 out of 6 setting and then the crank speed of your hand crank you just have to figure out what works for the conditions.
We also found that after proper application rate (maybe even a bit heavy) that we had a bunch of product left. TJ ordered the right amount for me but I must have not calculated the pond size correctly! So with plenty of product and the boat pretty slimy by that point we decided to go back over the whole thing again. It seemed like the warnings by the manufacturer were all focused on people who didn't apply enough or didn't apply evenly, not on over application!
We did the whole drill again, this time we had some experience and could easily get the right speed, the right product application, and then the shore team moved to the next mark on the grass and another pass etc. When we had another good heavy application, I went around the shore and reapplied to the banks since the boat can't get the shallows too well. I put plenty up in the first 6" of grass or so as well thinking positively about the likelihood that my pond isn't going to go down anymore, so future rains this fall will bring me up above the current grass line and we might as well keep the levels high there as well!
Then clean up, (good luck hosing that slippery goo out of the boat! spraying water on it only makes it slippery-er) (handy to have that hydrant down by the pond though!)
Part A powder attracts particles and pulls them down into the bottom layer. This creates overnight instant clarity. Amazing to see everything in the pond that I haven't seen in a while. My pallets are easily visible, but I also can count by sight the hundreds of goldfish! I had a turbid pond all year, probably from goldfish, and crayfish stirring up the bottom. I have no vegetation thanks to the crayfish. This worked to my advantage as the soilfloc works best in a 'nude' bottom. Heavy vegetation means the product can't glob the soil together.
Part B then takes that stuck together soil and adds a crosslinked polymer on top of it and then pushes that down into any crack that is pulling water down into it (a leak) Clearly the part B is what makes everything slippery. 2 weeks later I was in dress clothes and shoes and made a mistake of standing with both feet parallel to shore and then before you know it I, I hit a patch of that Part B polymer in the grass where we had hosed out the boat and voila, I was in the pond. Very ungraceful way to go, feet slipping in the air, no way to catch yourself! Watch out, the banks get very slippery!
So I still have a little extra left, stored in the house. I'm hoping I don't have to use it but can always reapply in the spring. Water temps are not ideal for applying now as the warmer the temps, the faster the chemical reactions that make the stuff work per TJ
So how did it work? Well that was part of the problem. About every 3-4 days we have had rain this fall here. SO right when I get a reading on rate of decline per day, it rains and we go back up to full pool again. The best I can say is that it is working EXTREMELY well. I can easily see that once the level is up, it stays up for a lot lot longer than before. The water level is staying over top of my culvert that brings water in from the street. Usually in about 3 days that 14" culvert would go from being covered to being up in the air with no water touching it.
In the late summer early fall with ground pretty dry and some evaporation going on in the late august weather we would lose about 1" a day, probably a bit faster in the hot days of August. I'm sure evaporation was much less by the time I finished the project in October but right after I completed it, we had no rain for about a week. I figured during that stretch we lost perhaps 1" in SEVEN days rather than 1 day. Since then I can't track it due to steady rain events.
I'm thrilled with the results to say the least. The product is not cheap but then again I probably bought enough for 3 applications. But it is effective.
Now I have a new concern. If we get heavy rains and my pond doesn't go down much at all, I'm going to have to worry about overflow issues! We never faced that as in between rains I always lost enough rain to make room for the next one.
I'm also excited about winter time levels staying up better for skating. I suspect that losing an inch a week or so, maybe more over the long winter as ground water table goes down, will still cause a noticeable drop over the 3-4 months of winter that I can't pump it back up. But it has to be much better than before!
Depending on how this winter goes, I can always reapply in the spring.
It also is a great feeling that I don't have to use lots of electric and the wear and tear on my well pump to constantly add water to the pond anymore. I still can do it anytime I want but hopefully it will be a rare thing now.
Many thanks to TJ for helping me through this. Hopefully my experience will help others. If you have questions or something wasn't clear, please ask, I'd love to help someone else in the area if they want to tackle doing this in their pond!