This may not be the right place for it, but I'll be documenting my progress on the pond with photographs in this thread as well!
Hello from South Louisiana! I heard about Pond Boss from a friend who built a pond at his new home in Rayne a few years back and all I can say is I wish I’d found this site and forum sooner! I’ve been reading all I can and watched a few recorded FB Live sessions from last year.
BACKGROUND: I bought a house in Lafayette in 2017 and I’m in the process of renovating a private 1-acre pond on the total 1.9-acre lot. It’s my understanding that in the late 70’s the pond was dug to build the road I live on. The house was built in ’86. It was an inherited rental property for the 10+ years before I purchased it, and the pond is no exception to the general lack of upkeep by the previous out-of-state owner/landlord.
PRESENT CONSTRUCTION: The water line to top of muck depth varied from 1-3ft depending on water level and location in the pond and the muck was probably 3-4ft deep. The pond is filled by rainfall and drainage from surrounding yards. Consequently, there is about a 120ft bulkhead running along the side of the house and erosion looks like it has been a bit of an issue around the rest of the pond. Mowing around the edges is dicey at times. After I purchased the house, I realized I couldn’t find the control box/timer for the fountain. After shutting off the main breaker, I learned that the fountain was not run from my house, but a neighbor had installed it 5-10 years prior and the tenant at the time didn’t say anything. That was the only kind of aeration system installed, and it may have been close to adequate due to the very shallow depth. Another neighbor told me that they used to have a water well feeding it, but I was unable to locate it. The pond is only a couple hundred yards from the Vermilion river and probably about 20-30ft higher elevation. On the other side of the cul-de-sac across the yard are some million dollar homes on the river that were built in the 90’s and have had issues with wet back yards (fairly steep slope down to the river) and water coming out from under foundation. However, draining the pond did not resolve the issue for them, which makes me feel a bit more confident about this pond renovation project.
AQUATIC LIFE: By my best estimates, it had perhaps 50 BG and 5-7 LMB (8in or less). It initially had a lot of turtles which sunbathed on the fountain every day, but most of them disappeared over the last year or so, possibly in response to our acquisition of an Australian Shepherd in Spring 2018. We’ve had a couple of Pekin ducks in it for the last year (Easter gift to the kids from the mother-in-law), we used to get cranes and herons nearly every day when it was full.
OBJECTIVES: 1. Deepen the pond (LSU Ag Dept. supposedly recommends avg. 8ft depth in this region) for bigger fish (BG-LMB) and for swimming. 2. Improve the cosmetic appearance of the pond and ease of maintenance (sloped banks, less angular outline, small berms, etc.) 3. Reduce size from about 1 acre to around ¾ acre to give more yard space on far side of the house for the kids to run (ages 3, 1.5, T-minus 5 months)
COMPLETED WORK: • Began pumping out with 3in Honda trash pump in late September and fought the remainder of what has been a very wet 2018 in South Louisiana. (As a reference point, that Honda pump is supposed to deliver 317gpm at full throttle; after pumping the pond down and then getting a full night of good rain, it would take 10-12hr to pump out what had accumulated -> that’s 200k gallons in a night!) • We had the USDA come out to take some soil samples to about ~7ft which yielded results they deemed marginally suitable for a pond (report attached). • Finally, a few weeks ago it was dry enough lately to get a small trackhoe in and dig drainage ditches to facilitate continued drying and improved drainage, as the long and narrow side of the pond is higher than the other side where the pump is and there is a slight perpendicular ridge in the middle inhibiting flow down to the pump suction. • We are getting the property surveyed today and raw data from the survey will be going to a landscape architect who will be making a 3D model of the property, assessing drainage paths, and designing the pond and property contours (and trying to minimize dirt removal costs).
UPCOMING WORK: • The landscape architect has highly recommended that we take soil samples down to 25-30ft in three different locations in the pond to ensure we will find suitable clays and not any sand beds. • Planning to drill water well to keep level constant to help manage weeds and erosion • Planning to have a designed outflow area, details TBD. • I’ve just purchased Just Add Water and A Perfect Pond (better kind of late than too late!)
QUESTIONS • Do I need a drain/overflow pipe tapped to city culvert? Or should I make a small channel lined with something like Flexamat as a dedicated overflow to the buried culverts near the front of the house? Currently if the pond floods it goes through the side yard into the street and down the storm drains (only happened in August 2016, to the best of my knowledge). • Will the installation of a water well be a worthwhile investment to maintain consistent water level and help manage erosion? • Should I perform a single deep soil test, or as the landscape architect recommended, three of them? 3 cores in ¾ of an acre seems excessive, and I’ve been quoted $3100 for the three which is not where I’d like to put $3k if I can avoid it. • Should I replace the existing, aged ~120ft bulkhead with a wood or vinyl or stone replacement, or look to something like rip rap (not sure how that might look cosmetically) to ensure the soil near the house slab is secure? We’d eventually like to replace the Gazebo with an over-water structure of some kind in the same approximate area. • Do I need to install aeration up front, or can I wait? • What do you see that I don’t? What should I be thinking about that I’m not?
Thanks in advance for reading that small novel and for any insights you can bring to my problem – I mean – pond.
WOW! Huge project! I live in Walker, from Opelousas, so I know your area of La. Curious, did you have more fish than you estimated when you pumped out your pond? Are you installing brush piles, habitat while the pond is dry, before filling?
@LaBassmaster: Yes, I think I did based on the size of the bird feeding frenzy we observed! Actually, based on the total lack of maintenance prior to us buying the place and actual likely volume of the pond at 1.5-2acre feet with 0.8-0.9 acre surface area, we had a surprising number of fish - a handful of max 8-12" bass and probably 50-100 small-medium BG we would see when pellet feeding.
After an 8 week trip overseas for work, I came back to see it all in person (left town after they started clearing the area but before they started digging, photos up till this point courtesy of my wife).
The fun continues.
Pond Filling and Ryegrass Coming In
Boat Launch (packing styrofoam from new refrigerator)
She's sitting on about 200lb of ag lime, not 30lb of hydrated lime!!
I blended the hydrated lime with water (one hand trowel scoop to 4-5gal water) and dispersed throughout the pond a few days prior to that photo to give a quick lift of the pH (brought it from 6 to about 7.8 in a few hours). Wore appropriate protective gear including hip waders, long rubber gloves, glasses.
Was a little nervous about a fish kill which is why I didn't use the whole 50lb bag, but they seemed to have managed. Haven't seen much fish activity yet, but zero dead fish noted since I stocked them 2 weeks ago!
Kris, how did your water test show zero hardness but later it showed hardness 50 and hardness 90? Is the hardness 50 and 90 from the pond and the first test come from your well? You are lucky to have no hardness in your well water. Woudl you still need a water softener?
canyoncreek, the pond has filled almost solely with rainwater. I take the initial zero reading on hardness of the pond water to be a consequence of of that fact, and possibly a consequence of an inaccurate test (and possibly I didn't take a deep enough water sample after recent rainfall). I'm only using the water well for the pond, so softening water isn't a concern for me.
My neighbor, who lives across the street and on the river, thinks that the pond may be leaking underground about 150-200ft into his backyard which slopes downhill all the way to the river. I'm skeptical, especially since the wetness didn't go away when the pond was empty. We've also compared evaporation rate of a plastic bucket to the loss rate in the pond, and found them both to be about 1/16" per day. At any rate, he offered to buy a polymer pond sealant product called Dam It, so we gave it a shot a couple of days ago. Sprinkled a lightweight powder all over the surface and then attempted to water it in. It turned into some lovely slime as soon as it got weight (including on the sweat on my forehead!). The rain which came that night was much more effective at hydrating and sinking it.
Whether or not it stops any leaks, it did a nice job of clearing up the water, bringing secchi visibility from 2in to 6in overnight.
Got a sample of Alum and put a couple pinches in a jar, had great results. I'll need to get some of this stuff a little further down the road.
In late March, while cutting and burning brush on the part of the pond which had been mostly backfilled by then, my brother and I saw a rat jump into a hole in the ground. Lo and behold, we found a 6" clay overflow pipe! We dug at intervals and traced it back to a penetration in the buried culvert near the road. This discovery greatly simplified the plan forward for drainage (or seemed to at the time).
Breaking the Berm to Install Overflow Pipe (No, I don't know why they did it in this order)
Tying in New and Old Overflow Pipes (We ended up having to dig up and replace all of the 8" clay pipe and replace with 8" SDR35 because the clay pipe had hills and troughs, some kind of blockage, and tapered to 6" plastic pipe at the outlet)