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I’d like to build a pond but my soil doesn’t hold water. What types of liners are there? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I’d like to build a pond but my soil doesn’t hold water. What types of liners are there?

Q: I’d like to build a pond but my soil doesn’t hold water. What types of liners are there?

Jasper- Colrain, MA

A: If you have a natural- or clay bottom pond that doesn’t hold much – if any – water, a pond liner may be your only leak-proof option. But before we outline the different types of liners you can use, let’s first discuss what’s currently in your pond.

Many ponds will contain some water. If your pond is more than 25 percent full and you want to install a liner, we recommend you either drain the pond before laying the liner or plan to put two feet or more sand or soil on top of the liner once its installed.

If your pond is less than 25 percent full, you have several liner options, which we’ve outlined below.

Liner Types

Two types of liners are used in pond and reservoir applications: poly vinyl chloride (PVC) and reinforced polyethylene (RPE).

  • PVC is widely used in irrigation reservoirs, detention ponds and golf course ponds. PVC liner is very flexible and cost effective. When installing this type of liner, we recommend your pond’s slope to be 3:1 for cover soil to stay in place, and we suggest you cover the liner with 12 inches of sand or clean soil to protect it from degrading in the sun.
  • RPE is widely used for more durable applications for water activities or in areas that get a lot of wildlife visitors, like agriculture ponds, irrigation reservoirs and golf course ponds. As with the PVC, we suggest you cover the liner with one foot of sand or clean soil where liner could be exposed to sunlight.

Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) liners are mainly used in small water gardens. The synthetic rubber isn’t durable enough to handle large applications like your half-acre pond. Stick with PVC or RPE instead.

Liner Thickness

In addition to coming in different material types, liners come in different thicknesses. PVC comes in 20 and 30 millimeter thicknesses; RPE comes in 30, 36 and 45 millimeter thicknesses. The higher the number, the more durable and puncture-resistant the liner.

If you have livestock, deer or other wildlife coming in the pond, you’ll need at least a 30 millimeter PVC or RPE liner to withstand those hooves and claws.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

When you’re ready to order your liner, get the measurements of your pond, including its length, width and maximum depth. Plug those numbers into an online calculator, and you’ll find out what size liner you require.

Pond Talk: What are some tips you can share with readers for installing a large pond liner?

Eliminate The Guess Work - Pond Logic(r) ClearPAC(r) PLUS

If PondClear™ and MuckAway™ are both beneficial bacteria products, what is the difference? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: If PondClear(tm) and MuckAway(tm) are both beneficial bacteria products, what is the difference?

Q: If PondClear™ and MuckAway™ are both beneficial bacteria products, what is the difference?

MaryBeth – Worthington, MA

A: In 1998, an American microbiologist worked out that the number of bacteria on Earth at that time was five million trillion trillion. This is the number 5 followed by thirty zeroes – an impossible number to comprehend.

That’s a lot of microorganisms.

With all those different types of bacteria, it’s safe to say that not all bacteria work the same way. PondClear™ and MuckAway™ both contain human- and animal-safe bacteria that will reduce nutrients and improve the overall health of your farm pond or lake, but they differ in the types of debris they target.

Suspended Debris

Pond Logic® PondClear™ focuses on debris that lives in the water column. The suspended material may cause your pond or lake to appear cloudy, but the beneficial microorganisms in PondClear™ disperse throughout the pond, consuming and digesting that organic matter, leaving you with clean, clear, odor-free water and a healthy ecosystem. It’s even safe to use in ponds and lakes that water horses, livestock, pets, birds and other wildlife, as well as those that contain game fish.

Sunken Debris

Pond Logic® MuckAway™ focuses on reducing sunken organic debris – also known as pond muck – that has accumulated along the beach, shoreline or pond bottom. The MuckAway™ pellets sink below the water’s surface and dissolve, releasing hungry beneficial bacteria that instantly begin consuming and digesting the settled debris. The all-natural muck buster is perfect for spot-treating trouble areas and controlling leeches by destroying their habitat. As with PondClear™, MuckAway™ is safe to use around horses, livestock, pets, birds, wildlife and in lakes that contain game fish.

A Perfect Pair

The bacteria in MuckAway™ and PondClear™ work well on their own, but they really take care of business when used together. Used as directed, this dynamic duo will begin working right away and deliver a clear, healthy, fresh-smelling pond within one month of use. If you have issues with water clarity, odor and muck, give these bacteria a try.

Pond Talk: How have beneficial bacteria improved the quality of your pond or lake?

Reduce Mucky Pond & Lake Bottoms - Pond Logic(r) MuckAway(tm)

Predator Control | Learning Center

There is nothing more frustrating that losing fish to a predator or stepping in bird droppings on your way to your own swimming hole. Knowing your enemy is the best way to determine what control methods you should put in place.

Are you using your pond for fishing, swimming or decorative purposes? Adding decoys will be in your best interest. Between the extra waste and increased weed growth, you know some animals can be problematic.

Don’t wait for a predator to find your pond before utilizing predator control devices. Once geese, swans or other wildlife have claimed your pond as their own, it is difficult to get them to vacate.

Make sure you know your enemy. For example, if you are trying to keep geese out of your pond, you will want to use a swan, alligator or coyote decoy. These animals are naturally unfriendly towards each other. If the geese see one of these decoys as they fly overhead, they are likely to skip over your pond in search for a less crowded water body.
Some animals, like the Blue Heron, compete against their own breed for pond real estate. A blue heron decoy will deter a real heron from landing due to their territorial nature. Just be aware that late April to May (sometimes early June) is mating season. If used too early, your blue heron decoy may attract a heron searching for a mate.
Move your decoys regularly. A stationary decoy will only work for so long before potential predators notice that something’s fishy. Move your decoy regularly to give it a more realistic effect.

Want to learn about specific predators? Check out this article Specific Predator Control.

Specific Predator Control | Learning Center

Now that we learned the basics of predator control, here are some specifics about each nuisance pest.

Geese
Geese have several natural enemies including swans, alligators and coyotes. Using one, a pair or all three of these decoy methods will help to ensure your pond (and the surrounding area) stays geese free all season long.

  • Swans and geese make similar nesting areas (like your pond). Swans are very territorial and aggressive towards geese. Geese will see the swan decoy and fly over to find a less inhabited water body.
  • Using alligator decoys is also an effective method for geese control. An alligator decoy is effective in areas where alligators do not live; the fear of alligators is instinctive, not learned.
  • Geese do not like coyotes. The Coyote Decoy’s 3D build makes it visible from all angles making it superior to silhouette cut outs, not to mention its tail and body will move with the least amount of wind. This movement can be spotted by pesky birds from a great distance away. Nesting birds and other rodents will not want to seek refuge anywhere near your property if they spot this lurking predator in the open!

Blue Heron
Blue Herons compete against their own breed for pond real estate. A blue heron decoy will deter a real heron from landing due to their territorial nature. Just be aware that late April to May (sometimes early June) is mating season. If used too early, your blue heron decoy may attract a heron searching for a mate.

Muskrats
Muskrats can be cute at first as they frolic and play in your water, but beware you likely have a bigger problem than you think. Muskrats wreak havoc on your shoreline by digging tunnels around your pond to the den causing unstable ground. Here are tips to remove them from your pond:

  • Disrupt their diet. Muskrats are mostly vegetarians, eating aquatic vegetation such as cattails, grasses and pond weeds. Although, you may see them munching on snails, crayfish small fish and frogs in some areas. Removing vegetation in and around your pond is a sure way to limit a muskrat’s access to food.
  • Disrupt their environment. Muskrats prefer shallow ponds with still or slow-moving water. Adding an aeration system or fountain will provide circulation and, in most cases, enough wave movement to deter muskrats. You’ll get a cleaner pond out of it too!
  • Remove them from the pond. Muskrats can caught using a live trap baited with apples or other fruits and vegetables. Make sure you do not fully submerge the trap in case other wildlife accidentally becomes trapped. Monitor your traps several times per day. Check with your local DNR to determine rules involving relocating these pests.

Once you’ve trapped and released your muskrats, make sure you cave in their tunnels and den. You may need to backfill these spots with additional dirt or gravel.

Leeches
Leeches can be quite the nuisance pest in a swimming pond, but, thankfully, they do not do much harm. Leeches can be found in most ponds but a healthy fish population can keep their population in check. Redear Sunfish do a great job eating leeches out of their mucky habitat.

If you do not have fish, there are some prevention and removal techniques we can share with you.

  1. Control the muck. Mucky areas are a breeding ground for leeches. Rake out as much muck as possible and use MuckAway to reduce muck by up to 5” per year.
  2. Remove weeds and debris. You have the muck under control but what about weed growth? Another hot spot for leeches is among weeds and debris. Raking out weeds and any decaying dead weeds from shallow waters will also keep your leech population in check.
  3. Add fish. Redear Sunfish and Largemouth Bass will help to reduce the overall leech population.
  4. Set a leech trap. Punch leech-size holes in a coffee or aluminum can, bait it with raw chicken or fish and position it in a shallow area of your pond. When the worms go for the grub, they can get in – but not out. The burrs from the whole punch will prevent them from escaping. Remove the can once it’s full and repeat until the leeches are gone.

The Life Cycle Explained – Understanding The Changes In Your Pond | Learning Center

From small ponds to large lakes, all water bodies encompass an ever changing ecosystem struggling to find balance. To help you better understand the life cycle of your pond, we’ll break down the process into two basic stages:
Stage 1 – A freshly dug pond is free from weed and debris caused by wildlife, waste, plant decay and other organic material. The water is generally clean and clear and there is minimal algae and weed growth. New ponds typically remain in Stage 1 for 3 – 5 years.
Stage 2 – Over time organic debris begins to accumulate and the pond becomes overabundant with nutrients. These excess nutrients become an effective plant fertilizer, causing weeds and algae to grow prolifically. You may begin to notice emergent weeds, like cattails and shoreline grasses, growing along the shoreline and a foul smell emanating from the water. Pond owners tend to use reactive treatments like aquatic herbicides and algaecides during this stage to kill existing growth. These reactive treatments provide a temporary fix to weed and algae control. If left in the pond, the decaying plant material turns into nutrient-rich pond muck that continues to fuel weed and algae growth. The pond then enters a continuous cycle of reactive treatments, leaving you, the pond owner, to use chemicals to control growth.
Be Proactive – For long-term treatment, treat the source of weed and algae growth. Using beneficial bacteria, pond dye, and aeration can keep your pond clean and free of the organic debris that shifts your pond into Stage 2. Using the proactive approach to pond management can save you time, frustration and money by treating the source of pond weeds and algae.

Controlling Cattails – Reclaim Your Shoreline | Learning Center

Cattails and other emergent aquatic plants can add natural beauty to any pond or shoreline, but if left unchecked for too long, they can overtake these areas and create a maintenance nightmare. A consistent program is the most efficient way to combat excessive spread of unwanted weeds. Fortunately, there is a simple solution to keeping cattails in check. Follow these tips to maintain a pristine shoreline all season long.

Set Boundaries – Cattails are not all bad. They are nature’s solution to providing habitat for wildlife, preventing soil erosion and they make a great visual barrier to add some privacy to your pond. Like most things however, cattails are best in moderation. Highlight boundaries where you would like to contain cattails by using landmarks, rocks or other unobtrusive markers. Treat cattails that try to stray from these boundaries to keep their growth under control.

Spray Unwanted Growth – To maximize the effectiveness of your cattail treatments, wait until there is at least 12” – 18” of exposed growth to apply product. A systemic herbicide like Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS will kill the cattails down to the root to prevent the plant from re-growing. The roots of cattails are the most difficult part of the plant to kill. So, allow the mixture to absorb into the plant for one to two weeks. This will ensure the treatment gets into the root system. Do not try and stretch the application further than the instructions state. This will likely lead to unsatisfactory results and end up in more product used in the long run.

Remove Dead Cattails – Wait until treated cattails are brown and wilted to remove them from your pond. Cutting them down too early will prevent your chemical treatment from fully reaching and killing the cattail rhizome (root) resulting in a quick return of the weed. Don’t leave dead cattails, or any other vegetation, in your pond to decompose. This decomposition turns into nutrient-rich pond muck that fuels new weed growth. Tools like the Weed Cutter & Pond Rake exist to make the process as quick and simple as possible.

Retreat As Needed – Due to the fact that cattails have a robust root base, multiple treatments may be necessary to properly gain control. Once under control, they will make a nice addition to your landscape and encourage wildlife to call your pond home.

Aeration For ALL Seasons | Learning Center

Installing an aeration system in your pond or lake is key for creating the perfect pond whether you use your pond for swimming, fishing or just for looks. The benefits provided by bottom diffused aeration will keep your water clean, clear and balanced all season long.

Spring Head Start
The increased oxygen and circulation provided by spring aeration will help evenly warm the water body and encourage the colonization of beneficial aerobic bacteria. These bacteria are responsible for preventing muck and nutrient accumulation and maintain clear water.

Summer Perfection
By reducing nutrients in your water body, weeds and algae have less food available to grow and thrive in your pond. The circulation provided by summer aeration will prevent pond stratification and eliminate the risk of pond turnovers, protecting your game fish.

Fall Preparation
With excess leaves, dormant pond weeds and organic debris being introduced to your pond in the fall, your pond needs more help than ever breaking down waste and reducing pond muck. The boost in beneficial bacteria counts and exposure created by constant aeration helps rapidly reduce accumulated debris in your pond. The less organic debris left in your pond leading into the winter months, the better.

Winter Protection1
As organic debris decomposes in your pond, gases are released into the water column. When your pond freezes over in the winter, these gasses become trapped and begin to take the place of clean oxygen. If enough oxygen is displaced, your fish will suffocate resulting in a winter fish kill. Running an aeration system in the winter infuses fresh oxygen into your pond while maintaining an open hole in surface forming ice to release decomposition gases.

No matter the season, your pond will benefit from constant aeration. Even better; when you allow us to size and recommend an Airmax® Aeration System for your pond or lake, we guarantee the results.

1Note – While we always recommend running the aeration system year round, if there is a chance someone will be using the pond for recreation during the winter or simply venturing out onto the ice, we recommend turning off the system during the winter. The ice around the aerator opening may be thin and dangerous

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