Need help designing new natural pond

Old 05-10-05, 03:06 PM
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Help designing a new 1/4 acre natural (earth) pond

We were told by the excavator of our new home that we needed more backfill. He said we should dig a pond since our lot is 3.5 acres (of lawn basically). They want to dig the pond next week (4/16/05), but we need to design it first.

We would like a natural pond (soil is clay at about 4' and below) and we would like it deep enough for bass and perch and deep enough to prevent it from freezing solid in winter (WI ... frost line at about 4'). The pond can be as large as 100' by 100', so our plan is some shaped design within that area, but we are not sure about what the depth should be where and what shape (s) would be best to have (bays, marshy areas, etc).

A pond company quoted us $25K to design it for us ("a combo fish and swimming pond with alpine clear water", they said), however digging the pond is only saving us about 2K is trucking cost for the backfill, so we are trying to design it for less than that.

Can anyone recommend any depths or specific designs for us since we can basically do whatever we want as of right now.

thanks in advance,

Last edited by tjanik; 05-10-05 at 03:27 PM.
Old 05-10-05, 06:19 PM
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I am confused by the dates of your post. The header says it was posted yesterday (5/9) but you said your pond was being dug 4/16. Hopefully I'm not too late.

First, contact your local Agricultural Extension office. There are people paid by your tax dollars that can give you some good advice for free.

My first concern would be... where will the water come from? Digging a hole in the ground does not make a pond. Here in central NC I think you need a 10:1 ratio at least for your watershed to pond ratio. So, for a one acre pond I would consider 10 acres of land draining water into the pond a minimum. Ponds with not enough water supply are little more than big, deep puddles. When I was a kid growing up in the flat lands of Ohio, any hole in the ground would fill with water and become a pond, so it depends on your area.

Generally I think deeper is better to a point. Water shallower than 2' deep encourages weeds and grasses, where water deeper than 12 or 14' in a small pond may have oxygen problems for the fish.

Generally I think a pond of one acre is small if you plan on having fish especially bass which are at the top end of the food chain. The fish you choose becomes more important the smaller your pond. Some species common to larger bodies of water can quickly overpopulate and die from starvation in a small pond while others can be stunted if the pond is not big enough to provide an adequate feeder fish supply.
Old 05-11-05, 09:27 AM
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Sorry, dates should have been 5/16 for the pond dig.

Pond will actually only be 1/4 acre not a acre.

The fish type is not the biggest concern right now, the shape and design (what depths where) are the biggest. Best bang for the buck you could say and most versitile and maintainable pond for looks ... adding fish would be an excellent benefit (prefereably bass and/or perch and feeder fish if needs be). Our water table is extremely high and 1/2 of our lot is bordered by a creek, so basically once we hit about 10-15 feet deep in the middle, we will hit the water table and the pond will fill by itself. The house hole only reached 8' due to exposure of the basement and lot slope when the house is, so I xan not say for sure we will hit the water table, but I have been told we will and the creek level is about 15' lower than the pond will be. The pond will be on the only flat section of the lot, 80' from the house.

Old 06-29-07, 12:32 AM
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This looks like the old apples and oranges comparision here. I did a bit of research on the net and it is easy to see there are ponds and there are Ponds. One usually has to pay for quality, but if you really just want to save money and are not overly concerned with the appearance or usefulness of the pond, then dig ahead ( which one would assume you did given the date of the post).

I haven't seen too many ponds that small that were very inviting for swimming unless you like algae and mud. So maybe there really is something to building a clear water pond because I sure don't see many of them around. You may need to ask yourself: do I want to just save money or do you want a great pond?

Also, do you really expect to have the ground water magically pop up a whopping 15 feet above the elevation of your stream? That sounds like it defies a few laws of physics, unless you are at the base of a big mountain.

I looked up clear water combination swimming ponds and found these guys. I was pretty astonished at all that goes into building a clear water natural pond. or

Last edited by Pilot Dane; 06-30-07 at 03:06 PM. Reason: Removed link to commercial website
Old 07-06-07, 09:49 AM
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First of all, I would be weary of anyone telling you that they can provide "alpine clear water" in a natural pond situation. Water dynamics and interactions with the watershed make this a nearly impossible feat in a "natural" man made pond. As far as the depth, you should decide what types of plants and fish you want in your pond. Do some research on the habitats of the fish that you want and apply your depths accordingly. Generally you would want both deep and shallow areas in order to support as much bio-diversity as possible. As far as the shape of the pond, I am a firm believer (from anectdotal experience) that the more shoreline you have the better your water will look, so add as much contour as you can. This allows more surface area of plants to consume nutrients (reduce algae) and also makes you pond look more natural because very few natural ponds are square or round. Also, as far as preventing ice cover, a simple and fairly inexpensive sub-surface aeration system should do the trick at melting enough ice to keep oxygen levels sufficient for your fish in the winter time. It will also boost oxygen levels in the summer preventing seasonal turnover and fish kills.
Old 04-27-09, 09:54 PM
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You don't always get what you wa-ant, but you get what you need

IT does strike me that asking a question about this sort of pond on a site like this is like asking for a do it yourself heart surgery kit.

I did call the people I mentioned in my last post (sorry I am not allowed to mention them since this site delieted their www name from here) ... but anyway , when I mentioned what Water said about clear ponds being "nearly impossible", they sent me a few gorgeous photos and said they have heard all the doubters before, even from professional pond and lake biologists. (by the way, these guys were pond biologists too) I suppose it pays to know your business.

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