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#216 - 10/17/03 09:46 PM Want to dig own pond...
tripcrown Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/16/03
Posts: 8
Loc: SE Michigan
I have been lurking on these boards for a while now and find this site very informative, but have searched the boards for info on digging your own but have found little. I live in SE Michigan in heavy clay. I have a Woods 750 3-pt backhoe and an 8n and Massey 65. The Ford has a loader. After getting several prices for a 1/2 to 3/4 acre pond of 10k on up, I would like to take this on myself. I have a ditch nearby to run the overflow pipe to and want to run all the downspout drains into the pond. Has anyone done this with similar equipment? If so, what tips or tricks can you offer? We want to use the pond for fishing and swimming, and would like to have an island or penninsula.
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#217 - 10/17/03 10:15 PM Re: Want to dig own pond...
Dave Davidson Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/22/02
Posts: 1892
Loc: Hurst & Bowie Texas
Pond building has been discussed in the last 3 issues of Pond Boss Magazine. If you're not a subscriber you ought to buy the back issues. Probably learn a lot. I only see a couple of difficulties. First, you have to pack the dam dirt, layer by layer, while you're stacking it. I mean really pack it. Also, the 8n loader bucket won't carry much at a time. If you have a loader bucket on the hoe, it will work better. I think most people here are do-it-your-selfers when possible. Have fun.

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#218 - 10/17/03 10:29 PM Re: Want to dig own pond...
tripcrown Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/16/03
Posts: 8
Loc: SE Michigan
Thanks Dave. I ordered the back issues and a subscription last night. Glad to here that there is construction info in there. Hope I get those issues. When you talk about the dam, do you mean the area where the overflow pipe will run?
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#219 - 10/18/03 07:48 AM Re: Want to dig own pond...
Dave Davidson Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/22/02
Posts: 1892
Loc: Hurst & Bowie Texas
Yes and more. All dirt that you move and pile up has to be packed, layer by layer, as it is placed. Be sure and install an antiseep collar around the overflow pipe.

I cleaned out a very small, silted in stock tank using a front end loader and box blade a couple of years ago. I dumped the dirt on top of the dam but due to the size, I didn't/couldn't pack it. It holds water until I get to the point where I filled in an old breach spot with the stuff I had scooped out. I had to go back and use an iron bar to perforate and them tamp it all down. And this was a very small water hole. If it ever rains again in North Central Texas, I'll find out whether my repair job worked.

I think you are going to fight an uphill battle with lightweight equipment but, unless you have a washout and lose all of your available fill dirt I can't imagine you screwing anything up that a dozer can't fix a lot cheaper than having them start fresh. You might want to dig everything out and pile it up; then get a dozer to come in and fill it and pack it down using a sheepsfoot roller.

Sounds like fun to me.

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#220 - 10/18/03 12:50 PM Re: Want to dig own pond...
Bill Cody Offline
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Field Correspondent

Lunker

Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 8491
Loc: Northwest Ohio - Malinta OH
YOU DIG A HOLE YOU BUILD A POND.

The island looks nice but it adds quite a bit more shoreline to the pond. Shoreline areas cause shallow water and shallow water is productive and is where all the weeds and algae growth occurs. Weed and algae problems rarely happen in deep water.

There is ample discussion in previous posts within this board about "do-it-yourself" digging your own pond. Do a search of each topic because this topic can be blended into unusual topics. The search method for topics is poor here and not user friendly on this board. I would fix it if I could; but that is up so others, mainly the guys in "the heading greeting".
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#221 - 10/19/03 08:57 PM Re: Want to dig own pond...
tripcrown Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/16/03
Posts: 8
Loc: SE Michigan
Thanks again for the input. It's all going into that file cabinet "upstairs". I only have a 16" bucket for the backhoe now, will need to get a 24-36", and hope the equip can handle it in this clay. I'm thinking of not starting this until early June, so there is less chance of the hole filling up on me.
Does anyone know if there are regs about how far you have to be from your well with a pond. My well is 60' down.
I'd like to keep the depth of the pond the max reach of the backhoe, 7-8'. If I can get in there and go deeper I will, or maybe rent a piece for a day and dig it to 10-12'.
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#222 - 10/21/03 11:35 AM Re: Want to dig own pond...
Rangersedge Offline
Ambassador
Field Correspondent
Lunker

Registered: 05/22/03
Posts: 774
Loc: Illinois
I don't want to discourage you, but... I'm afraid creating that pond might be a very long and frustrating experience without larger & different equipment.

$10K sounds high for a pond of that size. Before you start in with your equipment, you might want to get some different quotes from different contractors. Sometimes you can get a really good quote if they can fit it in between other jobs when they would otherwise not be busy.

You might also want to check out your local NCRS office (associated with USDA). Ours has a small dirt scoop that you can rent for $100 per day. You might then be able to rent a suitable size tractor to pull it at a farm equipment dealer. Sometimes they offer better rates during the summer (after spring planting and before fall harvest). You could probably do a pond that size pretty quickly then and at fairly low cost.

Just FYI. YMMV.
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#223 - 10/21/03 11:55 AM Re: Want to dig own pond...
Bob Koerber Offline
Member

Registered: 04/24/02
Posts: 470
Loc: Hartselle, Alabama
I paid 2800.00 to have a 1/3 acre pond dug that was for 51 hours with a backhoe operator at 55.00 per hour. I did not have to pay to have the dirt removed (56 loads with a semi-hauler) a local needed it for fill and paid to have it loaded and hauled but figure he spent another 1000.00 for the dirt so that will give you some idea what it runs here in North Alabama. The operator I used is a septic tank installer but was willing to listen and follow my instructions and drawings and I ended up with a very nice pond in the front yard.

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#224 - 10/21/03 09:35 PM Re: Want to dig own pond...
Bill Cody Offline
Moderator
Ambassador
Field Correspondent

Lunker

Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 8491
Loc: Northwest Ohio - Malinta OH
tripcrown - the dam Dave was talking about was as in a dam across a ravine or small valley or stream. Then the pond basin is enlarged and shaped. I think you are thinking about making what we call a dug pond; making a hole in the ground tha hopefully holds water.

The thing you have to keep inmind is if you do not have a constant supply of water your "hole" / pond will have to be pretty water tight. This is the key point to a good vs bad pond, water tight.

Good water tight dug ponds are built with layers of clay that has been packed tight at least 2 feet thick all around the bottom and side walls. The best pond builders in NW Ohio build dug ponds by removing all topsoil then make the walls eight feet thick (bull dozer blade wide) of packed clay. They don't just dig a hole and hope it holds water.
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#225 - 10/22/03 09:10 PM Re: Want to dig own pond...
tripcrown Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/16/03
Posts: 8
Loc: SE Michigan
I got out and was messing around with the 750 backhoe and you're right about it taking a while to dig this hole. Even if I were a profecient operator, it would take all summer. I did dig a 5' hole last night about 4' in diameter on the high side of the pond and it filled halfway overnight, a good sign since we haven't had any rain in a while. I have to improve a ditch and lay about 600' of drain tile with this hoe, so I'll get a better idea of how fast I can work by the end of that job. I will contact some excavators and get prices from them, and hopefully I can find one that is much more reasonable the the others. If I could get this dug for $3k that would be wonderful. I think they bid it at about $2-$2.50 cy dug and spread. How does that price sound to you guys? Got the Pond Boss mags today, they are great!
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#226 - 10/23/03 08:30 AM Re: Want to dig own pond...
Rangersedge Offline
Ambassador
Field Correspondent
Lunker

Registered: 05/22/03
Posts: 774
Loc: Illinois
Tripcrown:

About $3,000 may be in range for a pond that size. $5,000 probably isn't even too far out of line. I've noticed that the contractor who did mine seems to bid around $5,000 for ponds around an acre in size and 10 feet deep.

Each location is different though. For instance, that the excavation filled up with that much water could be a cause for concern. If it has springs and the soil is too muddy, they may have to use an excavator (trackhoe) instead of a dozer or dirt scoop. They might have to dig the pond deeper than you desire and compact clay or install a liner. ** I have a question posted myself for the experts, but basically, as I understand it, if a spring exists in a pond that has enough pressure to bring water in, it can take water out as well if the pressure situation is reversed (water is heavy and if there is a lot of it above the spring, you have pressure...).

I have heard that the general guide is $1 per cubic yard in this area. A local municipality is paying around $4 per for excavation of silt in an old lake (partially due to prevailing wage requirements). My dam turned out to around 32 cents per I believe (I think my dam had around 43,000 cubic yards of dirt at a bid price of $14,000).

Even if you get a cheap quote, don't underestimate the total costs associated with the pond... My dam was bid at $14K and the contractor stuck with it even though I think he probably lost money, but I way underestimated the quality and amount of topsoil so didn't include it in the proposal. Removal of quite a bit of that at an hourly rate added about $7K. I have about $3K in the cost of lime, seed, etc. I'm using my trackhoe, my brother's 4-wheel drive tractor & dump truck, and a rented dirt scoop to build the four mini-dams to catch any sediment. The dirt scoop is at $100 per day and I have fuel costs for the trackhoe, tractor, and dump truck. Now, depending upon the weather forecast, I am considering having the contractor come back to help with two of the mini-dams. Then there is fish stocking (going through local NCRS office for most, but have $300 worth of fathead minnows already and plans to purchase some fish not available through them such as smallmouth bass and hybrid striped bass) and possibly a feeder / fish food. Then I found a "cheap" pontoon boat that I want to fix up to use also as a ferry to get mower out to my island and etc. My $14K pond may wind up costing closer to $30K. Should provide years of enjoyment and relaxation though... Overall, I think it probably added that much to the property values too.

;\) I have a fairly large trackhoe and it still takes time to excavate a large area. You would need to dig down as deep as you want it, then move over, and keep repeating the process. It could be done, but would take a long time.

Good luck. Ponds are nice. Quick, relatively cheap vacations / therapy.
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#227 - 10/23/03 11:01 AM Re: Want to dig own pond...
Jim Courtney Offline
Member

Registered: 08/28/03
Posts: 41
Loc: Batson, Texas
Digging the hole for me is not the problem. Its moving the spoils. I hate front end loader work. Would rather dig.

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#228 - 10/23/03 12:55 PM Re: Want to dig own pond...
Pottsy Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/21/02
Posts: 494
Loc: Ottawa, Canada
Tripcrown - Try doing your excavation in such a manner as to use the front bucket for as much work as possible, much more efficient. Of course if you are already getting to water you are likely not going to be able to do so. Is it 4 wheel drive with an extenda-hoe at least?

(I had a sweet backhoe I would have willingly spent day upon day digging with.... too bad my property is almost entirely shale rock)
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