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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

Most water gardens I see are kidney shaped, is there a reason for this? | Decorative Pond & Water Garden Q&A

Most water gardens I see are kidney shaped, is there a reason for this?

Most water gardens I see are kidney shaped, is there a reason for this?

Frank – Queens, NY

Just as variety spices up life, interesting shapes give a boost to the appeal of any backyard water garden. Because the kidney shape curves conveniently to form a perfect vantage point – where the entire pond is visible – it’s especially popular. It’s also a simple feature to install, starting with our custom cut Firestone 45 Mil Pond Liner. Using this 45 mil EDPM liner and some careful preparation, you can have your own custom-shaped water feature up and running in no time.

During your planning and preparation, you’ll want to consider the kidney shape, which allows much more than a convenient point to view your water garden. It also adds a touch of style without sacrificing function – while keeping the pond healthy by ensuring a generalized flow of moving water. That flow, of course, is best achieved by the use of pumps, skimmers and filters, which draw water from one end of the water feature to the other.

For maximum circulation – an immediate boost of visual interest – we strongly recommend the installation of a waterfall at one end of your water feature, with a skimmer and pump at the other. With the use of our Atlantic Pro Waterfall Filter Falls Box, your waterfall with double as an efficient filter designed to establish and maintain a balanced ecosystem for both fish and plants alike.

Pond Talk: What shape is your water garden?

Waterfall Filter Box

What benefits are there to having a water feature and what types of features are there? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

What benefits are there to having a water feature and what types of features are there?

What benefits are there to having a water feature and what types of features are there?
Peter, Savannah, GA

There are as many reasons to create a water feature, as there are people to create them. Whether you enjoy design and creation, are intrigued by Koi, or just love the sounds and sights of flowing water, there is a water feature available for you. Just as the saying goes for snowflakes, your uniqueness and the plethora of available options ensures that no two water features are alike.

Understanding the options that are available to you is the first step to falling in love with the type of feature that best fits your location and lifestyle. Water features can be as simple as a small fountain or as complex as a multi-level water garden with fish, waterfalls and plants. The three biggest factors that come into play when you choose the type of water feature you would like to install are: 1) how quickly you would like the feature constructed, 2) how much space do you have to accommodate your water feature, 3) how much you are willing to invest to construct your water feature.

Small water features like Aquascape Mini Fountain Kits or container type water features are great for people who are on the go, don’t have much time to invest in construction and pond maintenance but are looking to get their feet wet in the ponding field. These types of water features take up a very small area while providing the sights and sounds of flowing water. Container type water features can be created with any type of water-holding basin and can contain plants, water spitters and even a small fish or two. Creative pond owners have used old wash basins, sealed wood barrels and other materials for their container type feature.

If you have ever walked through the garden center of a DIY home or builder’s supply store you have surely come across those big plastic molds we call preformed ponds. These preformed basins provide the layout of your pond allowing you to simply dig a hole in your yard accordingly and landscape around the installed basin. These types of ponds require a little more homework on your part as you will have to install a filtration system like the All-In-One. These are a great starting point for people who are interested in starting their first in ground pond but aren’t ready to invest in large-scale construction.

For those of you who are looking to upgrade to a bigger pond or would like a more creative design, installing a pond using 45 mil rubber pond liner allows you the freedom to create virtually any size and shape pond you can imagine. Waterfalls and streams can also be created using rubber liner adding even more character to your water feature. Along with designing an entire pond from scratch comes the knowledge required to select and properly locate skimmer boxes, waterfall boxes, rocks and pumps necessary to sustain a balanced pond. Pond kits are available to save you the time of having to select the proper parts for your project. Your pond will also require natural water treatments to keep it healthy and clean. If you want to enjoy a large scale stream or waterfall but are concerned about pond maintenance or have small kids, consider a pondless waterfall kit which retains pond water underground.

When constructed properly a water feature will blend perfectly into both your lifestyle and your home, allowing you to enjoy the tranquility and beauty these ponds provide, while boosting the value and appeal of your home. Take your time when looking at the different types of water features and choose what’s best for you, it will be well worth your investment.

Pond Talk: Share some of your feature construction experiences and reasons why you love your back yard retreats.

Everything you need to build the perfect pond!

I’d like to create a water garden or feature, how do I choose a size to suit me? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

I'd like to create a water garden or feature, how do I choose a size to suit me?

I’d like to create a water garden or feature, how do I choose a size to suit me? Maude – Frogsboro, NC

Water Features That Fit

Creating a water feature is a fun and exciting process consisting of endless designs and limited only by your imagination. Many people think they are have to have a large amount of land to create a great water feature. In reality, a beautiful water feature can be constructed in even the smallest yards or even indoors. Before you start purchasing materials for your pond project, sit down with a pen and paper and take some time to research and design the perfect water feature that fits your situation.

One of the more common ways people ease their way into pond building is by using a preformed pond basin. I am sure most of you have seen them when walking through your local home & garden stores. These plastic liners are available in a wide array of shapes, sizes and depths which appeals to customers looking to install a pond in a limited amount of space. These liners are great for people new to ponds as the shape and dimensions are already figured out for you. This does however limit your creative influence on your soon to be pond. It is for this reason that more and more brave newcomers opt to install Rubber EPDM liner instead. Using rubber liner allows you the freedom to create whatever size pond you desire, filled with curves, plant shelves and waterfall streams. The rubber liner is flexible and therefore is not prone to cracking like the harder plastic performed liners. Rubber EPDM liner can also be pieced together using a Seam Kit to accommodate a large array of designs. Pond Kits are packaged with 45Mil EPDM Rubber Liner to create ponds as small as 8’ x 11’ or as large as 21’ x 26’. You can also purchase rubber liner in 5’ increments for smaller or larger applications.

Those of us who enjoy the sounds and sights of flowing water but are not thrilled by the prospects of managing an entire pond, have other means of entertainment. Using a small basin and a pump, you can create a beautiful, streaming waterfall that disappears into a hidden reservoir underground. We call this a pondless waterfall. The great thing about pondless waterfalls is that they can adapt to smaller areas very easily because there is no standing water. For instance, if you don’t have much of a yard and would like to hear the sound of water, a pondless waterfall is for you. There are Pondless Waterfall Kits available that contain all of the parts you need to get started and are available in different sizes.

When planning to build your water feature, plan for a weekend, one preferably without rain of course. Most smaller Pond Kits and Pondless Kit usually need only a weekend to complete and right now is usually the most popular time to build. Just remember it is far easier (and cheaper) to work with your pen and paper in the planning stages than it is once you start building your water feature. Planning ahead helps prevent any unwanted surprises.

POND TALK: What type of water feature do you have?

Everything you need to build the perfect pond!

How do I know if I have proper aeration? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Don’t Under Aerate
How do I know if I have proper aeration? Felipe – Moscow, ID

The bigger the better when it comes to aeration.

When purchasing your aeration system you were told it will promote a clean, healthy pond with less algae and clear water. With more and more customers installing aeration systems in their ponds now may be a good time to discuss some of the assumptions and mistakes made when choosing an aeration system.

An aeration system can make the difference when it comes to your pond’s health, so selecting the right system can be very important.  In the long-run there is no free lunch.  If you try to “Make Do” with a smaller aeration system than what is recommend, it may come back to haunt you.  When an aeration system is sized correctly it will eliminate any thermoclines (thermoclines are a separation of water based on temperature). Have you ever swam in your pond and felt very cold water at your feet? Most pond owners believe this is a spring, when in reality, it’s caused by a thermocline. Proper aeration improves water quality, breaks down organic debris (muck) and improves the overall ecosystem in your pond.  Aeration works by circulating the entire pond’s water column from top to bottom.  The tiny bubbles created by the diffuser forces cool oxygen deprived water from the bottom depths all the way to the pond’s surface. This circulation drives oxygen to the bottom of the pond allowing “good” bacteria to digest muck, reducing nutrients and increase the overall dissolved oxygen in the pond.  If the system is undersized it will not create uniform circulation and simply pump small amounts of the cool nutrient-rich water from the bottom of your pond to the top.  This is the equivalent of adding fertilizer to your pond.  This can result in additional algae growth, odors and even fish kills.  This can all be especially true during the warmer months of the year.

If you currently have an aeration system running and you are not sure if it is sized correctly, there is an easy way to tell with a thermometer and long string.  You will use the string to extend the reach of the thermometer taking temperature readings every 24 inches, letting the thermometer rest long enough to get the true temperature reading at your desired depth.  Take readings every 24 inches until you reach the bottom of your pond. If there is more then a few degrees difference in any of your temperature readings you are more then likely under aerating your pond.

If you haven’t purchased an aeration system yet take advantage of The Pond Guys and Gals, we offer free aeration mapping and technical support.

Don’t Under Aerate

Can I create a Waterfall in my large pond too? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Can I create a Waterfall in my large pond too?

Can I create a Waterfall in my large pond too? Jason – Grand Junction, CO

You don’t have to own a water garden to enjoy the sights and sounds of a waterfall in your backyard. Although they are built a bit differently, it is completely feasible to construct a waterfall in your large farm pond.

Unlike a water garden, your waterfall feature does not have to boast filter media pads, lava rocks, or bio balls. Your farm pond waterfall focuses more on sound and appearance than it does productivity. All is not lost however; your waterfall will provide a small amount of aeration and circulation in the pond but not enough on its own to sustain the entire water body. Since your pond is not dependant on the waterfall for filtration or aeration you can turn it off and on at will and there is no need to run it 24/7. This is great as it can save you money in energy costs and wear and tear.

The materials required to construct your farm pond waterfall are similar to those of a smaller water feature with a few exceptions. You will obviously be building at a larger scale in comparison to a water garden so large high flow pumps are the weapon of choice to deliver water to the top of your falls. Professional quality pumps like the Norus 7,000 or Tidal Wave 10,000 are perfect for high volume, high head pressure applications. Instead of using a skimmer box to house your pump you will want to rely on a Pump Vault for protection. Available in multiple sizes, a pump vault will not only prevent solids from entering the pump but it will shield swimmers, boaters, or fishermen from coming in contact with the unit. You will want to put the pump in an area that is generally unused for recreation as well as in an area not in danger of running dry if the water levels drop in the warmer seasons. Just like a Koi pond, you will want to install a Pond Liner and Underlayment, for your water fall and stream to direct flow and prevent water loss. Your Black Waterfall Foam will come in handy for creating sealed areas between rocks and water fall boxes to further aid in flow direction. You will also still want to use a large Waterfall Box, or a couple smaller ones to provide a basin to collect water so the waterfall will spill evenly over the rocks instead of looking like a fireman’s hose. Because you will be dealing with a higher flow rate, a larger diameter tubing will be needed. Each diameter can handle a certain amount of flow; here is a handy chart to help you choose the best size tubing for your particular scenario.

Finding Proper Tubing Size for Optimum Gallons Per Hour (GPH)

Pump Size Tubing Size
500 GPH 1/2”
900 GPH 3/4”
1,500 GPH 1”
2,700 GPH 1-1/4”
3,600 GPH 1-1/2”
5,400 GPH 2-3/4”
13,500 GPH 3”
21,000 GPH 4”
42,000 GPH 6”

Maintaining your waterfall is as simple as using Oxy-Lift Defense to break debris free from the rocks and then rinsing the stream off with a hose or by running the waterfall pump.

Pond Talk: Have you installed a waterfall in your farm pond? Has it created any unique benefits or challenges in your pond?

Atlantic Tidal Wave Superflow Pumps

What type of soil is best for construction for an earth bottom pond? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Why type of soil is best for construction an earth bottom pond?

What type of soil is best for construction an earth bottom pond? Sarah – Charlotte, NC

Getting To the Bottom of Your Pond

If you are planning to dig an earth bottom pond in your yard this season, you may want to do a little leg work to find out what types of soil are found in your area before you break ground. You won’t need to go into specifics but your pond’s chances of success will depend on the dirt you dig up.

When digging your pond, it is common to pull up earth made of sand, silt or clay as well as many other components. If you built your home on land that was previously used for farming you would probably see a substantial layer of a fine, dark, nutrient rich soil. If you live in the southwest you may commonly find your property consists of mostly sand. It is important that you know the make up of your land because each type of dirt has its own unique characteristics and some hold water better than others. If you dig your pond in sand for example it will not be able to hold water. You really want to try to dig your pond in clay to ensure maximum water retention.

So how do you get the scoop on the local dirt? You can check with your city hall, or some local builders in your area, as they have at one point or another been involved with some type of digging in the area. If you can not find valid input or you want to double check for yourself, start digging in your yard. If you find that your yard consists of just about everything but clay, you have another option. Depending on the size of your pond you can purchase pond liner to hold the contents of your prospective pond. For smaller ponds you can purchase 45mil EPDM Liner. If you plan on digging a pond that 5,000 square feet and over then you are better suited with a 20mil PVC Liner which has a higher durability and comes in larger sections. If you’re in the market for a large pond liner it is best to call one of our pond techs to help give you an accurate estimate of the size you would need.

Pond Talk: Have you ever had trouble holding water in your pond?

Make your pond hold water with pond liner.

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