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#564458 02/17/24 05:55 PM
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Hello all I have made the same mistake it seems like a lot of folks have except I did it 3 times.I wanted around 1 acre pond hired guy to dig it and move dirt just out of his way and I would do the rest just dig and shape.That was the first 8000 wasted since then we have hired 2 more to just shape and partially because a lack of equipment knowledge or drive they didnt get it done but at least this time I didnt let them stick around long enough to do much more damage.Then the last 6 months 2 more guys wanted the dirt in return they would finish shaping pond anyway dirts gone ill wind up needing bond money and still no finished pond.I have skidsteers and tractors and will rent bulldozer/excavator which I can run fairly well.I tried just filling the hole up to cover up my shame but it wont hold water.I have been told I need a liner but my trust level isnt very high.My pond is in north fl. and mostly good clay with what we call pipe clay in the bottom.I think my problem is a few sand seams on sides.Does anyone think I could shape it correctly and spread good clay around and pack it well in lieu of a liner.Please anyone willing to have a conversation about any aspect of this will be greatly appreciated sorry its so long Thanks in advance

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Last edited by jbird5986; 02/17/24 06:17 PM.
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Welcome to Pond Boss!

and Bummer on the pond problems. mad

Have you done a simple soil test to determine your actual clay content?

If not, have you held some of the material in your hand when it was moist? If you can make a clay ball in your hand, then you have decent clay. If you can then roll that moist ball into a clay pencil, then you have some pretty good clay. (Don't worry if you can feel some sand grains in your palms while working the material, a little sand is OK.)

If you DO have sufficient clay, then your pond can probably be resurrected from the dead. You will need to add compaction to your equipment requirements. I can rent a Cat CP34 Vibratory Padfoot Compactor for $3,500/week. (It may be a little higher in Florida?) There are lots of different variations and sizes, but you will need something like that, unless you can find a tow-behind sheepsfoot roller if you have something big enough to tow it.

I am not familiar with the term "clay pipe" that you are using. Is it a rock similar to a fired clay sewer pipe? If so, a deposit of clay that has been turned into a rock is called a "shale".

If you do have actual rock in the bottom of the pond, then that will be a much bigger challenge. Typically, that cannot be compacted to form a water seal. That will probably force you to use a liner - which will be very expensive for a 1-acre pond.

I can give some more general recommendations when you come back with some more information. (I am geologist, NOT a pond builder.) Hopefully, some of the actual construction guys will also drop into your thread.

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Rod, your eyes might be telling your brain something different. He said pipe clay, not clay pipe. I'm assuming that it's a type of clay that could be used to make pipes once fired in a kiln.

jbird5986 ditto to what FishingRod said. Some other things to consider.

1) Don't make the sides steeper than 3:1 slope or you might have problems compacting the soil. 3:1 means for every 3' horizontal the slope drops 1'.

2) You HAVE TO compact the soil on the sides. You need to use a sheepsfoot roller, dig the pond deeper/bigger by 24" than what you want the finished size to be. A vibratory sheepsfoot is even better. You cannot properly "knit" the layers of soil together with a smooth barreled compactor. That pipe clay at the bottom?, bring it up and stockpile it at one place all by itself, don't mix it with other soil. Bring it back when the pond is dug, put a 6"-8" layer down and roll it with the sheepsfoot until the roller starts to "walk out" of the dirt and support itself on the pads, not the barrel. Put another 6"-8" layer down, repeat. Do that a minimum of 3 times, 4 times is better.

3) You CANNOT compact the pond sides/bottom properly if there is standing water in the pond. It has to be pumped out. I cannot stress this enough.

4) If the clay is too dry or too wet to roll into a pencil between your palms, it won't compact.

5) If you don't compact the whole pond, (up and above the high water line) it might not hold water as well as you want.

6) Any veins of sand or rock, dig it out at least 24" deeper than the rest of the pond and dig it out into the better layer of soil next to it. Compact that vein with the good pipe clay, again doing it in 6"-8" thick layers.

Look into talking to the guys at your counties NRCS office. They should be able to help you with the soil situation if they are any good. There are good and bad offices, I've run across them all. Download NRCS booklet "Agriculture Handbook 590". Spend some time reading it, twice if necessary before you spend any more $$. That will help you greatly.

Now if you end up needing a liner, talk to the folks at BTL Liners. https://www.btlliners.com/ They can help you IF you do need a liner. Typically most liners need to be seamed on site, they can make up to a 30mm thick liner a hair over an acre in size in one piece. You will need some equipment to move it in place, and a bunch of people to unroll it, THEN equipment to cover the liner 12" thick with soil. Your equipment CANNOT come in contact with the liner or it has a HUGE probability of ripping it. If doing the liner, remember that you have to over dig the pond to compensate for the dirt that will be placed on top of the liner.


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D'oh!

I did read it as "pipe clay", but typed it as "clay pipe". I was afraid he was describing something they dug into that looked like busted up clay pipes. If he is describing the good clay they use to make clay sewer and drainage pipes, then that should be good material.

If you do have good clay at the bottom, then I think your pond is still relatively easy to fix with the proper equipment and techniques.

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JBitd, welcome to Pond Boss. Lots of us have, the hard way, found that there’s a lot of difference in a pond builder and a dozer driver who clears land. Ask about experience and check references. Ask what they might have done differently if they had to do it over again.

Last edited by Dave Davidson1; 02/18/24 06:35 PM.

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