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A SMALL CHANGE GARDEN POND: Part 3
The Hard Part
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- The next step is to begin the digging. In the books, this
looks so easy. It seems every pond book author lives where the sandy
soil just melts away at the touch of a shovel. Some of us live in clay
and/or rocky soils. Digging a pond in these types of soils is quite
a job. Besides that, you will never be able to get the perfect straight
sides that illustations indicate. Don't worry. Just begin digging
and be prepared, once again, to be flexible. You also have to consider
any trees in the area that might have roots into your planned pond
- There are several strategies for digging. You may want to dig
a trench outlining the planned design. Or, begin in the middle and
work outwards. The deepest area will be in the middle of the pond, so
you might want to dig it in layers.
- The general rule is moderate climates is to make the deepest
area about three feet deep so fish can escape extreme cold and heat.
If possible, dig even deeper. Remember, the pond will collect debris
on the bottom and build-up. So, unless you want to clean the pond
regularly, plan for sediments. Since I have black clay soil, I just
dig until I can't stand it anymore!
- Ponds should have several depths so you should plan terraces
that gradually raise the bottom of the pond. Again, depending on
your soil, this may be easy or very hard as in the case of black clay.
But, you do need shelves for placing plants on level ground. The
number of ledges will depend on the size of your pond, but a minimum
of three levels should be planned (the lowest part, a ledge around it
and shallows around the perimeter.
- You also need to consider carefully the width of your pond. You
need to decide on the type of liner you want and check to see what is
available. I have found that an eight foot width is about the widest
size to give you flexibility on the type of liner you will want to use.
Length, within reason, is less of an issue. But, at least, check to
see what types of liner are available before you begin digging.
- One nice thing about pond building is that you can make mistakes
when digging and fix them later. As you begin your ponding experience,
be prepared to make mistakes. You can always take out more dirt or
add some dirt. But, it has been my experience that you can work
around mistakes with a little creativity.
- You may also want to plan a marsh area for your pond. This is
a shallow area with a dam separating it from the rest of the pond.
The marsh will have soil in the bottom for plants, and the dam prevents
the soil from getting into the main pond. The dam should be low enough,
however, to let water into the marsh.
- One thing the books never tell you is what the heck to do with
all the dirt you remove to make the pond. On my first effort, I made
the mistake of just kind of making a dam around the pond with the
excess dirt. This made a very ugly pond. You will be happier if
your pond level is a normal ground level. So, figure out where you
are going to put the dirt before you get too far into the process.
- Another issue to consider is what type of surface the pond liner
will be lining. If you have rocks of tree roots, you should consider
some protection between the liner and the earth to prevent punctures.
Depending on the situation, you may want to protect a small area that
is vulnerable or the whole pond. Arranging rags over a small space
works while you might need old blankets if you want to pad the entire
pond. Again, think creatively. Look around to see what you have that
might work without spending any money before investing large sums into
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