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#565650 03/28/24 08:10 PM
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Hello all Iive in the Marianna fl area. I have a nightmare with a new pond and need someone with a little knowledge to look and see if I can salvage it. I can send videos or pictures to anyone who cares to see and would love to connect with someone in my area that can see it in person. Any help with this would greatly appreciated.
Thanks Jason Jones 8508410032

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Welcome to Pond Boss, Jason.

Sorry to hear about your pond!

Lots of experts on the site that can diagnose your problems from your descriptions and photos/videos.

What are your biggest problems? What is the size of your pond in surface acres (if over 1/4 acre), or in square feet if it is a smaller pond? What is the depth of your pond at the deepest point, and the depth of the bottom in the majority of the pond?

Do you own all of the rights to the pond, or do you have to work with neighbors to make any changes? Any sample of the fish species and size?

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Hey Ill be a little more specific and do my best to upload pics.The first guy had the shape mostly right he just couldnt move all the dirt so he quit.The next guy wanted the dirt and kinda finished shaping hauled a bunch of dirt and ran off third guy had fairly easy gig he got whats left of dirt and 1000 dollars to finish shaping we left for a week came home to 34 or 38 hundred dollar bill and a pond with vertical walls this ended badly and violently he and I talked about the 3 to 1 being important.He either thought i was that stupid or ignored me the entire time we talked and sold all my dirt and tried to bill me for it,Pond is 350x200 and about 50 feet needed to be cut to the 3to1 instead he walked around it and dug it straight down.So now pond wont hold water he has a limp and I have trust issues.I know I have to get the slope back just not sure how to go about it.

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Here pics

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Resized_20240328_191208_148692100666195.jpg Resized_20240328_191227_148698286194838.jpg Resized_20240328_191227_148698286194838.jpg
Last edited by jbird5986; 03/28/24 09:33 PM.
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If someone could look and say you got got dirt just move around pack do this do that ill rent some equipment and go at it but im scared to do anything without some guidance I have the exact clay I build houses on everyday thats where most went some of it hard and like modeling clay and some is a little more sandy and should I dig wider to get slope back or put dirt in I dont have a clue Thanks

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Jeez, I'm sorry to hear about your ordeal.

O.K.If the clay can be moistened and rolled into a pencil shape between your palms, it's good enough to seal the pond. If not, see if you can find better clay there. Stockpile the good stuff. You will need enough to cover the whole pond bottom and sides 18"-24" thick.

Cut the sides back 3:1 or 4:1. You were absolutely correct about the slope. You should cut the bottom/slope/sides 18"/24" deeper than the finished dimension. Beg, borrow or rent a sheepsfoot roller (not a smooth barrel roller).

If you have good clay in the bottom of the pond (see above) then run the sheepsfoot roller over it and let it "walk up" off the material, then take some of the good clay that you stockpiled, spread it out 6"-8" thick all over the pond bottom/sides. Run the sheepsfoot roller over it again until it compacts it and starts to walk up out of the clay. Repeat that 3-4 times so you have an 18"-24" thick layer of clay all over the pond bottom and sides that have been sheepsfoot rolled.

If you find areas of soil that are sandy or permeable (iffy for sealing) dig them out at least 24" deep and sideways back into good material, take the stockpiled good clay and pack it into the iffy area that you dug out.

Yes, it's a lot of work, but it will be even more work if the pond isn't sealed. You will have to play with water content of the clay to get the "pencil" and then you will have to try to duplicate that moisture content when you start sheepsfoot rolling the clay.

A smooth barrel roller won't work because the layers need to be "knitted" together to hold water and stop it from traveling between the layers.

Dig it wider I think that will be easier than trying to put the dirt back and trying to compact that dirt on the steep slope. You can't put a few feet down and compact it, the lower layers won't be compacted.


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3/4 to 1 1/4 ac pond LMB, SMB, PS, BG, RES, CC, YP, Bardello BG, (RBT & Blue Tilapia - seasonal).
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Thats sure what i wanted to hear Im not a 30 year operator but do have a good bit experience on most heavy equipment mostly excavators does anyone have recommendations on size excavator and how long it would take a real operator I have my eye on a few individuals have that really want someone to rent for awhile.

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That sheepsfoot roller looks like it will be interesting to source thats not something i can buy at auction and use ever so often

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That wasnt bad if a 7 ton will suffice I can get one 1000 a week I can take that they also have a 24 ton if that would be better just cost alot more but by the time im done im confident ill have the most expensive average pond in florida keep in mind donald trump kid rock and ted nugent have ponds here.Most expensive not nicest.

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The sheepsfoot could be a non-vibratory pull behind one too.

Excavotor size and time is a good question, time would all depend on how far you have to move the dirt and what equipment you have to move the dirt. I'm betting it would need to be moved further than the excavators reach, so a dump truck would be needed to avoid needlessly touching it.

For my pond we used a Komatsu PC220 with LGP tracks. I honestly can't remember the size of the bucket, 1.5 - 2 yds? That's just a guess. I've seen all sizes of excavators used, even 80' long sticks (but that took a LONG time and I wouldn't recommend it).

The bigger the bucket the less scoops you need.

IF you don't need to move the dirt far (less than 100 feet) and the dirt isn't soupy, a dozer would work with LGP tracks.

Tracked equipment WILL NOT compact the dirt enough to seal the pond.


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Sorry about your problems, that is a dirt borrow pit, not a pond!

esshup has given you excellent advice on your construction process, but you still need to determine if you have the right materials to complete the pond. When that is confirmed, then you can talk about the proper equipment and steps, etc.

I live in Tornado Alley, so all of the houses have basements. We do NOT like to have the foundation walls built in clay. Clay minerals will actually incorporate water into their structure, unlike sand which just allows water to exist between the particles. Therefore, when clay gets saturated it swells, and when you go through a long, dry spell it loses the water and you see the big cracks in the soil where the clay actually shrinks. That cycle is bad for foundation walls, but good for a pond because the clay usually stays saturated most of the time. (I hope your house construction concrete work makes accommodations if built on that type of material.)

Can you make clay balls when you wet your material? Even better, can you make clay pencils? If you are not sure, then you can get a clay content analysis for your material. You can even have some sand mixed in with your clay and make a tightly sealed pond. However, you must thoroughly destroy any sand layers or stringers, by cutting back and then mixing with your good material before you compact in lifts.

Is the pond mostly the size and depth that you want? If so, you could push the bad material out of the pond basin with a small or medium dozer. Then scarify the bottom (disc or break up the layers) and then perform your first compaction. You could then knock down your sides and make a 3:1 slope. If some of that material is good, then do another compacted lift to seal the bottom of the pond.

Cut the side slopes a little too deep. When you think you have the bottom sealed, then start your compaction of the sides. After the first compaction, you will need either one or two more 6" compacted lifts to finish.

Hopefully, you can rent something like a Cat CP323 or CP563. I believe those are much easier to use going up and down the side slopes than a pull behind sheepsfoot, and the vibration greatly helps the compaction.

P.S. Do you have a water source? You must wet your clay material to the proper water content to get good compaction. Do you have a buddy in the area that builds roads for government jobs? He can probably give you good pointers on how they compact the road base of local materials before they start adding the aggregate.

Good luck on turning your hole into a pond.

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I wish there was a class or the like around here on the dirt because im second guessing it now and will be the entire time.We build on a sand clay base here toward the beach more sand towards georgia more clay.I tell you it looks much worse in person I am seriously considering buying a few large dump trailers and making it construction landfill where you can rent the trailer and all.Someone told me today there should be a biologist around that would come look at the dirt has anyone heard of that.I have a large piece of property and think maybe I should just go to the other end and start over it maybe less work.

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jbird5986

Go to your local NRCS office at 2741 Penn Ave Marianna, FL 32448-4027. Talk to someone there about building the pond, and see if they can do a site visit to get eyes on the soil. They will also have a soil map at the office telling you what type of soil permeability you have.

They can also tell you about your watershed and if you have enough watershed to sustain a pond that size.

You pay for the service through your taxes, it doesn't cost you a thing to have them come out.

Also go here: https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=92487#Post92487 Go to the link and download the USDA 590 handbook and read it. Twice.

You don't need a biologist, you need a soils scientist or a soils engineer.


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jbird, don't get discouraged yet.

Lots of pictures on Pond Boss, where half way through a pond building project, the site looks like a big bomb went off.

If you have good material (clay) in the pond basin, I believe you can turn your "hole" into a pond relatively inexpensively. If you don't have good material right there, but have some good clay on your property, then you can still make a pond at that site but with some more expenses to move your clay.

Try the clay tests by hand that were recommended. If you are getting any clay, then follow esshup's advice above and get some expert guidance before you bleed more money into your project and further raise your blood pressure.

If the whole area is too sandy for a clay-sealed pond, then perhaps you can scale back the size a little and make a pond with an artificial liner that is still within your budget. If you have to go that route, a sand-clay soil is very easy to shape to the exact pond you want. Further, if you remove all of the sticks, that base will protect your liner for a long time (if you exclude hoofed animals).

Good luck!

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If you do have to go with the pond liner. look at the woven fabric geotextile liners that BT Liners have. They are way more impervious to punctures than your standard EDPM liners and can be used without a pad under the liner if care is taken to remove sharp pokey things.

I talked to them about a project late last year and they could make a liner up to 1 1/4 acre in size that was one piece so seaming on-site wasn't required. Their liners are a LOT lighter than EDPM liners too, so shipping and installation costs were lower too.

A customer in Arkansas used the woven geotextile liner from BT liners oh, 7-8 years ago for a small 1/20th acre wildlife pond. Both hogs and deer utilize the pond and there have been 0 punctures in it so far.

To help the liner live up to it's guaranteed life and beyond, you are supposed to cover it with 12" clean soil. A tracked skid steer or dozer could be used to spread out the soil on top of the liner, the only thing that the operator has to be extremely careful of is to refrain from having the track contact the liner.


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3/4 to 1 1/4 ac pond LMB, SMB, PS, BG, RES, CC, YP, Bardello BG, (RBT & Blue Tilapia - seasonal).
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