Pond Perfection: The Truth on Thriving, Long-Lasting Ecosystems
Ponds, often viewed as serene and picturesque additions to landscapes, are not merely “holes in the ground.”
They are intricate ecosystems that demand careful planning, design, and construction to ensure longevity. One of the most critical factors in pond construction is the choice of materials. ✅
The correct selection and utilization of materials can make the difference between a thriving, enduring pond and one that constantly requires costly repairs.
*Find videos, links, and more resources/references below.
One common pitfall in pond construction is using topsoil as a primary building material. Topsoil may seem like a cost-effective “easy” option initially, but it is highly porous and unsuitable for retaining water.
One of the most common assumptions (doomed for failure) goes like this:
“I think we can just dig a hole with the soil we have. It’s cheaper than bringing in or sourcing the materials, and we have good runoff. It should work fine, right?”
Over time, topsoil-built ponds are prone to leakage and erosion, leading to a never-ending cycle of maintenance and repair. The costs associated with such repairs often far exceed the initial savings, making them an impractical choice.
We present a real-life video example of a leaking pond project in 📍 Missouri.
The leaks are attributed to common causes, such as a dam filled with topsoil containing tree roots.
Additionally, we highlight a less common cause: seepage through gravel materials within the dam.
This video serves as a valuable visual demonstration of why choosing the correct materials for pond construction is essential, offering insights into potential issues and solutions when planning, building, and repairing ponds or lakes.
- Read more information on this exact project and find more like it here:🔎 Finding and Fixing Leaks (Blog Post by Bulletproof Pond and Lake
Ponds Built in Porous Materials
Like topsoil, constructing a pond in porous materials like gravel or sandy soil can result in water loss and instability.
Water seeps through these materials, causing the water level to drop significantly. Additionally, porous materials do not provide the structural integrity needed to withstand environmental factors such as heavy rainfall and groundwater pressure. 💧
Common (example) FAQ’s regarding pond owners whose ponds’ total foundations are built with porous materials: 🗣
“Our pond filled up during heavy rain, but the water level quickly dropped. We even added a new compacted clay core to the dam, but it doesn’t seem to help.”
“The pond just will not fill up, and we’ve even put a hose in it for weeks, it just all disappears into the ground. What’s going on?”
Common (example) regarding pond dams built with porous materials: 🗣
“The pond will fill up, then drop to a lower level that it seems to stay at. It won’t fill up completely, no matter how much consistent water it gets. Why?”
* Disclaimer: Every pond is unique. The examples provided is based on common conversations often associated with ponds constructed using porous materials. Accurately identifying the precise issue behind a particular pond problem necessitates further in-depth investigation and assessment.
In one of our many short videos below, we casually highlight a real-life instance on a job site in 📍 Bonner Springs, Kansas of a poorly built dam. –
This pond was initially constructed using a combination of topsoil and permeable materials. Nonetheless, in this particular case, the pond was rehabilitated with a robust synthetic HDPE liner. Frequently, when dams are reconstructed and cores are installed, this addresses significant problems related to seepage and water retention.
** One of the growing trends in the pond construction world is the common oversight of using clay material for most of the pond while neglecting the installation of cores in dams. **
If the pond’s foundation and the dam are not constructed using the appropriate materials from the outset, subsequent reconstruction or core installation will not resolve the underlying issue, and additional problems will endure. Find more videos like this on our YouTube channel, social media, and information center.
The Importance of Correct Material Selection
Choosing the right materials is essential for the structural integrity of the pond. Quality liners and non-porous materials, such as clay or synthetic pond liners, prevent water from seeping into the ground. This ensures that the pond maintains a consistent water level, reducing the risk of erosion and leaks.
Proper materials also play a crucial role in maintaining water quality and clarity.
Porous materials such as topsoil have been known to especially affect water clarity, oftentimes resulting in more murky-like waters.
Properly compacted and installed non-porous materials such as clay and synthetic liners help maintain water clarity.
Although porous materials and additions may be added after the foundation build of a pond, it is crucial not to use these porous materials until after the pond’s foundations are first complete.
Misconceptions about Pond Construction
“Ponds are Just Holes in the Ground”
This misconception oversimplifies the complexity of pond construction. A successful pond is more than just a dug-out hole filled with water.
It requires proper planning and designing to begin with, to name a few major factors: water run-off, pond usage/purpose, and environmental laws and regulations.
Successful pond builds include a multitude of components, including but certainly not limited to; Proper excavation levels, precise compaction, suitable liners or materials, other structures such as aerators, filtration systems, aquatic stocking or breeding structures, and erosion control.
Along with all these, it additionally includes careful attention to water management and upkeep. Neglecting any of these aspects can lead to a multitude of problems, including water quality issues, habitat degradation, and structural failures.
Find additional credible resources below:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE): The USACE often provides guidelines and resources related to water management and pond engineering. Their district offices in the Midwest and Great Plains regions may have specific regional information.
USDA: Provides vital information and resources for pond and lake construction and management, offering technical assistance, financial support through conservation programs, regional expertise, and credible guidance. While they emphasize conservation and environmental aspects, other specialized objectives may require additional expertise that they often have reliable sources for. Overall, the USDA is a valuable source for conservation-focused pond and lake projects, with accessible educational resources reflecting best practices.