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Originally Posted by The Mule
Would it be possible to excavate a little more on the opposite side of the pond (from the tree), place that earth at the tree's base to cover the existing roots and then put some sort of impermeable barrier down between the roots and the pond?


This may be possible, but I still think you have an issue with the source of the water which I was addressing before you made your last post.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

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Ah, ok. Hmmm. Any other ideas? I guess moving the pond far enough to be clear of the roots is not an option. What would you do? Any other ideas?

We aren't on city water; we have a well, which happens to be located right next to the pond. Would there be a way to use that to fill it somehow?

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I didn't read every post, but I would very strongly recommend using a rubber liner, and disregard the spring other than perhaps a nearby shallow well with a small pump in it for a source of water to keep it topped off. A few reasons why:

1. Initially the ash tree will rob you of water. More than you would think. Roots will regrow and they will be more than happy to grow back into the pond and cause problems.
2. The Ash will die. Emerald Ash Bore. The roots will rot or the tree will fall with roots all on one side removed. You will have more places to water to go or you will get a larger unwanted pond with a large root ball in it.
3. Your island is robbing you of a great deal of water volume. Remove it when/if you put in a liner and instead build a floating island if you still want one. The island will provide a refuge for future fish from herons, and will provide some shade to keep the water cooler and fish happier.
4. When/if you put in a liner, it will look much better at the front of the house, and the rubber acts as a weed barrier making it easier to maintain. Of course this means covering the exposed line with stone.
5. You can clean it out FAR easier than a clay bottom. Drain it with a trash pump, scoop out the crud with a bucket and rake. Brand spanking new again. Especially important with tree leaves.
6. You can run the water right up to the same level as the grass if you wish with the rubber liner. Border with rock cobbles, build shelves in the basin that holds plants, etc.

Expect about $1K or so in cost though, and you will need a felt liner between the soil and rubber to prevent punctures.

I have a 1/2 acre field pond, and a garden pond a little smaller than what you show here with a rubber liner. I only occasionally (2-3 times a summer at most) need to top it off with a hose when it gets one or two inches down as our evaporation rates in NY are just a hair shy of our precip rates. Meanwhile, the farm pond will be down 3ft from seepage and evaporation combined.

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Thank you very much, liquidsquid. That sounds like a winner. I didn't know about the tree & the ash borer. So are you saying that the tree is doomed to be victimized by that insect?

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Originally Posted by The Mule
Ah, ok. Hmmm. Any other ideas? I guess moving the pond far enough to be clear of the roots is not an option. What would you do? Any other ideas?

We aren't on city water; we have a well, which happens to be located right next to the pond. Would there be a way to use that to fill it somehow?

When I said 'city water' I just meant whatever water source you use at home, so yes, the well can be used.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

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Originally Posted by The Mule
Thank you very much, liquidsquid. That sounds like a winner. I didn't know about the tree & the ash borer. So are you saying that the tree is doomed to be victimized by that insect?

Only basing it on bark and location, yes I believe this is an ash tree. It is doomed. All of our are effected this year and I have had to cut down many. I have been planning for the loss of my trees by planting others to replace them. Oaks, Hickory, Hazelnut, Mulberry. All wildlife food sources to replace the Ash seeds.

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OK, well I'll hope that you're wrong but prepare for the possibility it will need to go.

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Mule,

I originally typed a very long post to convey lots of information. However, for a new pond person I should have put the key points in bold.

One of the important ones was:

"If one of your springs into your pond is very well defined, then you might be able to control your pond water level."

The other key point was:

"Another option is to just observe your water level for the first year. It may turn out that the low point of the groundwater level is still perfectly acceptable for your usage of the pond."

It appears that you did not have to observe the groundwater level for an entire year to evaluate using groundwater to keep your pond full. If it is too low now, then imagine where it will be at the end of a dry summer. Unless you have a very well-defined spring that you can see dripping water down the bank of your pond, then I think you definitely need to scratch my suggestion!

The groundwater level is controlled by the amount of water into the system AND the amount of water drawn out of the system. Unless you had an exceptionally dry spring, then I believe Snipe is correct about the trees starting to draw significant amounts of water out of the groundwater system.

I definitely DO NOT support cutting down your tree to keep the pond. In my opinion, it is not your tree that is "stealing" the groundwater from your pond, it is ALL of the trees in the area that are now sucking up groundwater out of your aquifer.

After seeing the size of your pond, I personally really like liquidsquid's suggestion to install a liner. That is by far the most secure way to keep water in the pond and discourage roots so that they stay out of the pond. Many of the ponds on Pond Boss are too big for that option, but it should work very well for your pond.

Also, I believe your pond is going to be a "yard pond" with lots of trees sharing the area with your pond. Leaf build up in a pond leads to deposits of "muck", which eventually fills in a pond over time. Since you are going to have leaves and short grass in your yard, then some leaves are going to end up in your pond. However, if you have a liner in your pond, then it may be possible to use a pool vac or some other device to clean the muck and leaves from your pond bottom every few years. (I am not a pond liner guy, maybe one of those experts can chime in on the best way to reduce muck in your pond.)

I think installing a liner correctly, and then doing some attractive landscaping, and then keeping your pond topped off with well water should give you an excellent final result. (The liner installation may create a little berm around the pond. You can probably find some good ideas on the internet on how to turn your liner edging requirements into an attractive feature. That is exactly the kind of project I turn over to my better half!)

Good luck on your pond version 2.0!

P.S. Being "pond nuts" we all latched onto your pond design questions. However, your real reason for digging the pond was because your front yard was so soupy. Was your yard more useable this spring? If you do install a pond liner, then your pond will no longer serve to drain your front yard. However, you have now performed a long-term test on the interaction between your yard and the local groundwater aquifer. If you need better drainage in the future, you should now be capable of designing your own french drain or a similar solution.

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Thank you again, FishinRod. I think it sounds like a very good plan as well. I'm going to call a pond installing company in my area tomorrow and get someone who really knows what they're doing to come over here. We'll excavate the dead tree stump, make the whole thing a nicer, sort of kidney shape (rather than round) and install a liner.

Yes, once we dug the hole for the pond, the entire yard became perfectly usable - no more standing water anywhere. I do plan to plant MORE trees in the yard this fall, so next spring hopefully they'll take care of whatever ground water was seeping up into the yard. And if they don't, then - as you say - a French drain will do the trick.

I'm so glad I found this forum - you've all been very helpful! Thank you.

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Pro tip: Happy wife, happy life!

When I have been in a similar situation, it worked out well when I did the equivalent of going out to the yard when it was green and pretty and asking my wife how exactly she would like the pond shaped and situated, and what trees she would like in the yard, and where she would like them planted to have the yard just the way she wants it 10 years from now.

P.S. People on the forum really enjoy seeing good "after" pictures when you get the project finished the way you wanted it to go!

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I'll happily share some pics once this thing is looking more like I'd envisioned it!

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Got a rough estimate from a pond installer today, based on pics I sent and a description of what I wanted done:

"Ok. you have some major ground water issues that have to be addressed first if you are going to put a pond there. As far as the size and shape, it really comes down to budget as we can build any pond shape and size from a small 5’x6’ turtle pond for about $6,000 to an unlimited budget pond. I consider all water features as an investment and do not consider any of them inexpensive. Think of them like an in-ground swimming pool but slightly more expensive to build; the only difference is a pool doesn’t add much to the value of your home, while a pond does add equity.

The pond you are describing is complicated and would require a considerable investment. The biggest thing to consider to lower the overall cost is that, the deeper you go, the more expensive it becomes. At 5’ deep things such as bottom aeration and water jets are required to eliminate water stratification layers; therefore I would recommend not to exceed 32”.

Based on that information, our 15’l x 22’w x 30”d starts at $30,450, and as seen in the picture below is $45,750 (not including the flagstone patio). This pond (as seen) has a few extras including, a bio-falls and a spillway to oxygenate the pond, lights, aeration system, landscape package, and two small streams.

The bottom drains for the water mitigation issue you have would add another $3,890, bringing the total for a similar pond of this size to $49,640."


Those numbers are WAY higher than I'd imagined. I will get a few more quotes to be sure, but are the problems he's envisioning really problems that will cost that much to correct? Or could I just excavate a better shape and size basin, remove the stump and put a good liner down and call it a day? Granted, he is used to installing ponds that will house expensive koi... I just wanted to keep a few bluegills in there for mosquito control. With a fountain for water movement and surface agitation.

Thoughts?

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I didn't like the sound of only 32" depth, but then again with all the features dude is talking about, the 'pond' will never freeze up.

Those costs seem very, very high to me.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

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I agree. I laughed when I read his email. I want the depth to be 5 ft all around. Size to be 15' x 20' or so with an irregular kidney shape. Do I need all that aeration and drains for the bottom and all that other nonsense? How would you filter a pond this size?

I have another guy coming by in the next few days to give another estimate.

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I would consider other options.

1) Fill the hole to within a foot of grade and use the space for a bog garden

2) French drain from the hole to the nearest drainage, fill the hole, cover with sod

3) Neighborhood mud wrestling pit - perfect for settling HOA disputes

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Option #3 sounds great!

Seriously though, I may be leaning towards something along the lines of option #1. Or just fill the hole and plant more trees around the area to drink up the excess ground water. Then I could just do some sort of fountain installation to get my water feature fix.

Anybody else care to weigh in? I'll be disappointed if the pond doesn't work out, but I definitely don't want to spend tens of thousands of dollars to make it happen.

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I am not a pond liner guy, but I had a buddy that used to install koi ponds and decorative water features.

He said some of his biggest (and most profitable) jobs were where he would use liners to create a series of pools and waterfalls that would go down the hillside in the backyard of a wealthy person's house. They would spend $30,000-$50,000 for the project, but everything was expected to be perfect!

The other end of the scale is larger ponds (like most of the people on Pond Boss) where the pond is at their farm or property. The liner is for the pond to hold water efficiently, rather than as a decorative feature. They are built fairly cheaply on a square foot basis, but still more expensive than a large pond where you have a good water supply and clay for sealing. Based on your very high initial cost estimates, I would consider scaling the project to fit your yard, but copy the way they do it for large, non-decorative ponds. (You and your wife can do the "decorative" later.)

I have watched some videos of installing the liners on larger ponds. You either need some power equipment or a crew with lots of people (like when they have to pull out the rain tarp at a major league baseball game).

Are you fairly handy? Do you have a few buddies that could help install the underlayment and the liner? If so, I think you could probably do it yourself!

I agree with you, I would rather have 5' of depth than thousands of dollars of bottom drains and circulating systems. Your idea for a fountain may be enough by itself to aerate your pond for BG.

One word of caution - will your pond be easily accessible to neighborhood kids, or in a well-fenced backyard? If available to kids, then your pond will almost certainly become an "attractive nuisance". That means that if someone trespasses into your yard and drowns in the pond, it is your fault.

Even if the pond is safely fenced away in your yard, you will need to design a way for people to walk out of the pond. A pond liner with a little algae on it will be VERY slippery! (When I was asking questions on Pond Boss about the most efficient way to do my shore slopes for a pond in my pasture, several people commented in my thread that my pond needed a safe way out - even in the middle of a country pasture!)

My advice would be to do some Pond Boss and/or internet searches for pond liner installations. Once you see how some pros do it AND how some amateurs do it, then you can make an informed decision for your project.

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I've seen some of those videos and yes, it looks like all the guys running the tarp out onto the baseball field. I could probably round up a group of guys for the job. I'll continue to think about it... And the point about the attractive nuisance is definitely something to give me pause. Back to the drawing board!

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Originally Posted by The Mule
I've seen some of those videos and yes, it looks like all the guys running the tarp out onto the baseball field. I could probably round up a group of guys for the job. I'll continue to think about it... And the point about the attractive nuisance is definitely something to give me pause. Back to the drawing board!

For a liner the size you are going to install, I don't think you need the baseball crew, just a couple of buddies?

If your pond is in the front or side yard, maybe you just have to go 2' deep for safety reasons. That depth might rule out a true pond, but maybe your wife will let you keep a few BG in a tank in your basement to overwinter? Or you could just re-stock every year with some gambusia (mosquito fish) every spring.

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The overwintering idea could work. I do have a few extra aquariums in the garage I could throw some bluegills in. I'll sleep on it. Maybe I'll watch a few of those pond liner youtube videos again and see if I can recruit a few friends. I did a little reading and I THINK the general rule is anything deeper that 4 ft requires a fence around it. So maybe I could go 3 ft or so and be safe. A small child could drown in 10" of water though, so I'll be sure to research that thoroughly.

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FWIW It cost me $800 for both felt liner and the rubber liner 15 years ago. It was I think 40ftx30ft and I cut it down to size once I laid in the hole.
Search for pond liner suppliers on-line. PondBoss may have some great suppliers for this as well, though I don't know who is a supporter.
Anything over 20x20 is frigging heavy and awkward. You will need friends to help or a small tractor with a fork. I had a teenager slave labor.

Process is as follows:
1. Measure size, calculate depth and liner sizes needed. Order parts. (Measure what you have already)
2. Rent a machine for rough hole digging. The vast majority of material is removed this way. Use a small trash pump to keep water out when working. Or use existing hole, though you need to remove that island.
3. Dig hole with rough features with rented machine (maybe a few hours more to remove island). In your case maybe you will need to dig a drain out to a road ditch from the hole as well. Maybe a powered small dump to move soil elsewhere, or you can pile the soil as part of the pond feature on one side for plantings or future waterfall. Don't make too tall, spread wide and low or it will look like a mini volcano. (I was lucky and a neighbor had a machine and worked it for free, and I used a manual wheelbarrow to move soil, it was hard)
4. Use a laser-level and hand shovel to pull material from the basin and create a at least 1ft wide level rim around the perimeter. Use wood stakes with the level line marked to fill to. I set mine about 2" above surrounding lawn level to drape liner across as weed barrier. This is a lot of manual effort. Great way to get in shape. I'm too cheap to pay someone else to dig.
5. Manually create tiers/steps/bottom features to hold plants and allow yourself easy access to the basin. The stairs should angle towards the sides a bit so you don't fall in easily. Expect to slip in anyways when working on it, so always wear bathing suit once full. This process isn't too bad, but is manual work. For the most part it is just arranging soil in the basin to make the features. The key feature is a step starting at about 1ft under the water line that will support stones/cobbles from that point up and over the rim of the liner once the liner is in. A bonus would be to add a rim on the edge to prevent things from easily sliding down. A thick rope staked down would do the trick, or 0.5x1 treated lumber set down a little. You don't want to need stone all the way to the bottom. That can use pea gravel or leave bare or just a few larger rocks here and there. You can use landscape blocks for stairs, just be careful of sharp edges. Double up in the felt on those features if concerned.
6. Remove all roots and check for any sharp edges. Lay down the felt. It comes in easy to manage sizes.
7. Pull liner across with friends. Tamp down, re-adjust some features, push into corners, make folds as needed. Easy. Maybe an hour or two.
8. Cut liner to the outside of the rim you made, It should still go up and over and that's it.
9. Use baseball and larger size cobbles and start building up from the shelf. I interspersed with large rocks, 2ft diameter stuff for a natural look. Some I left isolated out in the water. I have plenty of rocks on my property to work with, but did need more rocks from a local gravel pit for more interesting stone. When all placed, use pea gravel and sand in the gaps. This sort of locks things in place.
10. Fill.
11. Buy some plants, get them in there where you would like.
12. Wait about a month before introducing fish. Rubber liner ponds take longer to settle the nitrogen cycle than soil-based. Goldfish can take it, but not much else.

Your largest problem may be the liner trying to float up from the high water table. Using a variety of stone and gravel to pin it down will be important. The drainage ditch for the groundwater to help with your wet spot could double as a source for water if your well isn't up to snuff.

Using your own labor, you can probably get the cost well under $3K total including ordering stone, pipe for drainage, and renting equipment.
Don't go deeper than 5ft, any deeper and it is hard to maintain. Use a simple air line to an indoor diaphragm air pump at the house. It is all you need to turn the water over and prevent complete ice-lockup in the winter.

That price you got quoted is OBSCENE. A flat out joke. Who would spend that much on a project that is rewarding, easy, and for the most part can do yourself unless you have health issues?

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Here are some pictures from the progress. Note the dates on the images to give you an idea how long it took:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/KQAwb6mzwq3bRFHj6

Yours is larger, it of course will take longer.

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Hello.

Another example.

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]
[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]
[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

In the bottom there is a pool liner, between 2 cheap liners.

I took the largest pool liner available , 27 feet it's much cheaper.

Don't forget that it must be solid because you will have to work inside.
A+

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Beautiful


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP
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