How To Build A Farm Pond
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How To Build A Large Farm Pond With MULTIWEAVE™ Pond Liners:
If you have pre-existing water on your land, you’ll need to check with any regulating authorities before attempting to alter them. Contact the EPA and your state to be sure your water isn’t currently regulated. If you don’t yet have water on your land, you’ll need to contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) service center to find out what regulations may need to be met and what permits are required before you complete your project.
Until recently the notion of "How To Build A Farm Pond" "Farm Pond Construction" was considered to be a long and arduous process. And, once the project was finished, there were always concerns about the outcome and longevity of work. With the introduction of high quality, fish safe .45 mil rubber liners this process became a little easier and with better results.
Rubber though had some drawbacks regarding its tear strength and UV instability not to mention the taping and seaming on larger projects. The industry took a much greater step forward with the introduction of the single piece Polyethylene Liner. These pond liners were ideal for larger farm ponds in that they could be manufactured in a single piece rolls up to 50,000 square feet and they were much lighter. This made the installation a much easier task and the outcome a certainty. This pond liner is much stronger, UV stable and has a much higher tear strength and burst strength over the old rubber liners.
This article will explain the step-by-step process in the construction of a farm pond but first we have to know what the definition of a farm pond is. A farm pond can be of an earthen bottom or lined. A farm pond is typically from 1/2 acre to 2 acres in size with a depth of 5 to 15 feet. Farm ponds by definition are for private use and are often stocked with a variety of fish species.
Site Location: Often times customers make the assumption that the lowest part of their property will be the best location for their new farm pond. This makes sense from the point of view that water will run down hill and add water when it rains. Although this may be true, runoff from the surrounding area can bring with it copias amounts of nutrients that can cause major problems with weed and algae blooms. Another problem with “low spots” is they very often are near the water table, which contrary to popular belief is something you don’t want. The reason is, if you put a liner right over the top of water table, you can potentially have problems with gases being trapped under the liner and cause the liner to bulge. You do not want this to happen. We therefore recommend the flatter, more expansive terrain rather than the “low spot”. A typical summer in most climates will provide for ample water during any rain event to add water to your pond. A well nearby never hurts should you have a dryer than normal summer. But the choice is yours and either will work.
Excavation: Once the site is located excavation of the site can begin. Be sure to have the area marked for any buried power or gas lines. Do not order your liner until you have excavated the pond completely. The last thing you want is a liner that
is to small for the project. Depending on the site, the shape and depth of the pond will vary. If the site permits, we recommend that a pond be excavated with at least a 3:1 slope but preferably a 5:1 slope from the edge inward towards the center to about 9 or 10’ from shore. The reason for this simply safety, children or animals that venture near the pond would not expect a shear drop off if they dipped their toe in the water. From the 9 or 10-foot mark then we normally recommend a 2:1 slope down the desired depth you want. We normally recommend a depth between 11 and 13 feet as being adequate, but if you have the room and want to make it deeper, that’s up to you.
These two photographs show you the excavation of a pond approximately 150’ long and 84’ wide. The depth on this project was limited to 8’ due to a shallow water table as described above. Because of space constraints, the sides were a bit steeper than we like to excavate as well. But like most projects, there are always some challenges. Once the site was excavated we simply use a 300’ tape and measure from one long end to the other long end, and then the short side to short side across the excavated site. Be sure the tape actually rests along the sides and bottom of the pond when making all measurements. If not, your liner size could be incorrect. It is also very important that the circumference edge of the pond be “shot” with a laser or other device to make sure the ponds perimeter is flat at the point where the top of the water line will be located all the way around the pond. If this is not done, your pond will look funny and/or leak water out from the low point.
Geotextile Underlayment: Once your pond is excavated you are ready for a geotextile underlayment. Now depending on the soil conditions this step may or may not be necessary. The underlayment is designed to protect the liner from punctures from sharp rocks, sticks or anything else that could potentially cause a problem with your liner. Water weighs about 8 lbs per gallon, so the pressure on the liner at depth can be quite considerable. If this pressure point is on a sharp rock, you could cause a leak. The Multiweave double woven pond liners have a tear strength of around 60 psi and a burst strength of 600 psi so damage is very unlikely. However, we like to look at the underlayment as an insurance policy, but like most insurance it will add to the overall cost of the project. The decision to use, or not use underlayment is yours to make. It is not required however to actually do-the-work.
InstallingThe Pond Liner: After the underlayment is installed next is the installation of the pond liner. If you purchase our Single Piece Multiweave Polyethylene Pond Liner this process is much easier than you can imagine. The photograph below and left shows you how your liner will come delivered to your site. You will need a forklift with fork extensions or long forks on a bobcat to get the liner off the truck. The photograph to your upper right shows you the liner once installed. This process is actually very easy and here is why. Once you have your liner off the truck, place the pallet with liner on one corner of the excavated pond. Carefully remove the packing to see which way the liner will roll out. Turn the pallet with the liner still on it towards the “long axis” of the pond. Gather 5 or six people behind the liner and simply push the roll along the “long axis” of the pond at the ponds edge. Don’t roll the liner into the pond yet, just down the edge. Once you have done that your liner will now be laying all along the ponds long edge. That shouldn’t take any more than a few minutes.Once you have done that, have your crew line up every 8 to 10 feet along the edge of the liner. You will need approximately 1 person for every 2,000 square feet of liner you purchase to pull the liner from one side to the other. When you get to this point you will all be standing next to liner along the long edge. Everyone can now reach down and grab hold of the liner. At this point someone can give the go ahead and each person, with the liner in hand should run down one side of the pond, across the bottom and up the other side. As you do this, the liner will unfold like an accordion and in an instant your liner is installed! It really is that easy, a lot easier than taping and seaming a bunch of .45 mil liners together. You may have to move the liner a bit here and there, but do your best to get the liner from one side to the other side, because once everyone stops the liner will be harder to adjust. Try to get the creases out if you can, it just makes it look a little nicer.At this point you can either tuck the liner into a trench along the edge or, if you have the room, just spread the liner over the ground. Unlike many liners, our single piece MultiWeave polyethylene pond liner DOES NOT need to have soil put over the top. The liner is UV stable making this step unnecessary. Add Water: Now that your underlayment and liner is installed all you have to do is add water. Some people will fill the pond with a hose, which depending on the size of the pond, can take some time. But a hose, along with a nice thunderstorm or two and it wont take long for your pond to fill. Once the pond is full you can push soil over the remaining liner just along the edge to hide it from view. Over the course of a few weeks, you will get algae growth on the liner that is under water and you wont see the liner anyhow. The pictures below will show you the final step of adding water and then adding some kind of floating fountain or bottom aerator kit to keep your pond smelling and looking great for years. Our Multiweave single piece pond liners are available in any length and width you require. We have many of the most popular sizes already sized for you on the Farm Pond Liner link.
We know that adding a liner to your project will add to the overall cost of constructing a farm pond. That being said however, we have talked to many people over the years that have tried either clay or bentonite as a way to keep water in a pond and the results have been mixed at best. With a liner the results are always the same. The pond holds water and you the consumer, haven’t wasted a lot of time and money and dealt with a lot of frustrations as well. Our philosophy on building a farm pond is really quite simple. I remember a valuable lesson my father taught me when I was a kid. He said to me: “If you’re going to do a big job, you should always plan to do the job once, and to do the job right!” Cutting corners is often a major waste of time and money, especially on a project like this.
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