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Pond Overhaul

Discussion in 'Plants, Ponds & Planted Tanks' started by Andrewtfw, Apr 17, 2012.

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  1. Andrewtfw

    Andrewtfw Global Moderators
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    The school where I teach has a pond in the courtyard. The pond has not been maintained for a couple of years. Since I have a 125g in my classroom, the administration thought this would be a good project for me. I have no experience working with ponds.

    The pond is 12" at its deepest point and is approximately 10 feet around. It is filled with 8-10 inches of mud and leaf litter. The filter is full of mud and I am currently unable to access the pump. There are a few types of plants in the pond. The roots are intertwined and dense, making it difficult to remove the mud.

    My plan is:
    1) Cut the plants bordering the pond to about 3" in height.
    2) Cut the plants in the pond (except the lillies) down to their base and remove the roots as much as possible to ensure the plants do not grow back.
    3) Step into the pond (I found it full of leech-like creatures today, so I am not thrilled with this part).
    4) Use collanders to scoop out the mud.
    5) Pour the mud into 5g buckets and cart the buckets out of the courtyard and dump them in the tree line in the rear of the school.
    6) Try to get the pump to work (I know the 5w uv bulb is blown)
    7) Place the pump/filter into a planter basket to serve as an additional pre-filter.
    8) Fill the pond as needed (adding Pond-Prime).
    9) Reconstruct the border of rocks around the pond.

    Does this plan seem realistic to you?
     
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    In a word...

    ...no.

    1)Drain it to the extent possible - only need a few inches of elevation difference to maintain a siphon.
    2) Use a shovel (not colanders) to excavate the silt and/or plants you want to keep or move.
    3) Consider using the silt to increase the depth of the pond (even a couple inches would be a plus) by building a berm and/or backfilling/stabilizing the rock border. This might also help to keep the pond from being flooded during heavy rains which may account for the amount of mud you're reporting - it could have washed in.
    4) Have to have a pump even if you don't have a filter per se to move/aerate the water - a submersed fountain effect that creates a roil of water a couple inches above the normal surface is quiet and yet effective way of avoiding stagnation/eutrophication.
    5) That Fish Place also has That Pond Place (or used to) and their own catalog. Pond pumps with filter baskets are surprisingly cheap but as they move a lot of water are easy to clog up so you'll need a large strainer to maintain flow. Putting the whole affair in a burlap bag is not a bad way to go to prevent clogging and makes the whole pump/filter/strainer affair virtually disappear or look like a submerged rock.
    6) Pond Prime? Save your money or better still some of the water that's already in it.

    I've built a number of pond, stream and waterfall/cascade affairs - maintaining adequate oxygen/circulation and limiting organic loading (leaves) are biggest concerns if there's no new water entering/flushing the system, but algae can also be a problem. Might plant a willow tree next to it if there's no shade.

    Anyway, have fun, water features can be great.
     
  3. jonclark96

    jonclark96 CCA President
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    No pond experience myself, but sounds like a good plan. Any way to make it a service project so you can get some students to help?


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  4. verbal

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    If there isn't an organization in the school, a local boy scout troop may have a scout looking for an Eagle project.
     
  5. chriscoli

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    Is there any chance of some before and after pics? I'd love to see what you're talking about and how it comes out.
     
  6. Andrewtfw

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    I'll check with my admin about student volunteers/scouts. I'll try ti take pics along the way too.

    Sent from my DROIDX
     
  7. UNCLERUCKUS

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    SOUNDS LIKE A PRETTY DECENT PROJECT ANDREW. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT. IVE NO EXPERIENCE W/PONDS. SOUNDS LIKE YOURE GETTING SOME GOOD IDEAS/SUGGESTIONS THOUGH. I LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING AND HEARING HOW IT GOES FOR YOU.
     
  8. Tony

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    Sounds like a fun (and challenging) project. What school are you at?
     
  9. Frank Cowherd

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    #9 Frank Cowherd, Apr 18, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2012
    If it is a cement pond or a rubber lined pond, power washing it is often done to assure no debris left over. If you have leaches and other stuff you do not want you might consider adding something as a rinse to kill them after the pond is empty. A rinse with a saturated sodium chloride solution or clorox will work. THe salt solution is best as it kills very quickly and then you need only remove what you can easily. With the clorox you need to rinse with fresh water to get rid of the excess.
    When you fill the pond the residual salt is of no concern. The chlorine in the tap water and any residual clorox will disappear in about 24 hours, so you cannot put fish in for a day or better two, but you do not really need to add any chemicals to remove the chlorine. But you do need a working pump to make sure the water is circulating and not just standing.
    Plants can be put in plastic pots so they are easy to remove and clean the pond whenever needed.
    Is there a filter on the pond? Sounded like it did have a UV sterilizer to prevent green water.
    It is curious where the large amount of silt came from unless the pond really was set up as a swamp to grow mainly aquatic plants. Of course when you buy things like cattails and arrowhead the root systems have all sorts of critters in them including leaches.
    My pond this year for the first time, and I blame it on the warm weather, has an algae problem, not green water, a floating matte of algae whit bubbles in it. And apparently some of the electricity power plant around MD are also having a similar algae problem with their water intakes. Mother nature's power on display.
    Anyway, if you want some marsh plants I have a type of iris (non blooming) and arrowhead, PM me. I could bring to the next CCA mtg.
     
  10. Andrewtfw

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    @ Tony - I am at Washington Grove es. It's about twelve minutes from your house.

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  11. Andrewtfw

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    I think you are right (Frank), it was originally set up as a wetlands. It has a liner. They don't want me to drain it, just clean it up and get the filter working. Draining it would be easier.

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  12. Tony

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    When are you doing the work? If I'm free, I could swing by one day and give you a hand.
     
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    Too many chiefs?

    Why the opposition to draining? If someone has such strong opinion(s) about what it needs, maybe they should be the one(s) to fix it...Unless they give you "artistic license", I'd take a fly on it unless they can provide some reasoned limnological rationale for tying your hands.

    No experience with leeches, but sounds like a candidate for a complete system wipe. I's also be up for a Saturday morning jam session along with Tony if you tell me where and would like to see a picture.
     
  14. mscichlid

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    I would volunteer to help as well. I have school on Saturdays until 1:00pm. Sundays are open.

    I say drain that sucker anyway...

    I have yellow iris to donate.
     
  15. Leffler817

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    Cool Project! I would be that there is a slacker at the High School that you feed who is in desperate need of service learning hours. A pond/wetlands project like this should qualify as science learning hours. Talk to you schools guidance counselor who would be in more frequent contact with the counselor at your HS. Good Luck.
     
  16. Andrewtfw

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    I was planning on starting tomorrow after school. If you are interested in helping me, the school will be open on Saturday, the 28th for a flee market. I would love the help and CCA would be recognized in the school news letter. I haven't figured out how to upload pics from my phone to our site. I will post pics tonight from home.

    Sent from my DROIDX
     
  17. Andrewtfw

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    Pics of the pond

    Here are two close-ups of the pond that is in need of a lot of work.

    2012-04-17_16-37-18_953.jpg

    2012-04-17_16-37-09_381.jpg
     
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    Cool

    Yep, I'd forget the colander and bucket approach unless you need a protracted working meditation or feel a need for penance - a shovel or two (and perhaps a wheelbarrow) would make short work of it, not sure you need to move much if any rock (or silt very far for that matter), expect you could rehabilitate this in an afternoon with a little help.

    A couple wide shots that include the surrounding area and relationship to the building/other site features would be really helpful.

    Just be careful not to puncture the liner - any other potential errors will be largely subjective, but attempting to patch a wet liner in place definitely is not. I tend to favor the barefoot approach to such - you can feel if there are rocks under the liner threatening to poke through - but then I rarely ran afoul of leeches (see link).


    http://movieclips.com/nSsD3-the-african-queen-movie-filthy-leeches/
     
  19. Frank Cowherd

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    #19 Frank Cowherd, Apr 18, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2012
    I'd suggest you just get rid of about a third to half of the plants while making space for some open water deep enough for a few fish. If there is piping, concentrate on getting it open and back in working order along with the pump and filter if there is a filter. I agree with Sam that puncturing the lining is the last thing you want to do and with that in mind the shovels are out. You probably will have to use a knife to cut through the roots and then grabbing a hand full of the cut out roots, toss it into a wheel barrow or trash can. You can make an effect scoop out of a gallon milk jug. Leave the handle intact and the top in place while using scissors to cult out a large hole so you end up with what looks like a scoop and which works well for removing the last bits of water and debris from a lined pond. I like the idea of putting the pump and pump intake inside a burlap bag though I think that will mean you will have to change bags or clean the bag once a month. Most pond pumps come with a plastic screen or sponge with large holes to prevent the pump from sucking up stuff it should not. Without such the pump will get plugged with leaves or algae or whatever falls into the pond. Pond stores likely offer other things like bag nets to put around the pump and intake. For my pumps I used an intake made of 2 or 3 inch PVC about 18 inches long with end caps. I drilled about 40 3/8 inch holes in the pipe to let water in and keep all else out. Works but does have to be cleaned whenever the flow back to the pond from the filter slows to a trickle. You can also make a prefilter of a 5 gallon bucket with lid by putting holes in it and the pump inside with another hole for the hose that serves as the out flow from the pump.
     
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    Really?

    No shovels but knives and scissors are OK? Each to his own Sir, but I'd trust my hands round a shovel handle before I'd go plunging about at roots with a knife. Fact is that the plant roots can't penetrate the liner so while there may likely be a root mat, the whole thing should separate/peel away from the liner with sufficient exertion, at which point a knife could be very useful to "thin the herd".

    As for the burlap bag, it doesn't replace the intake screen and/or sponge (it would collapse from the suction), it goes around them on the outside and delays them from getting clogged up as they invariably do no matter how elaborate, and makes cleaning a snap (untie the bag and reverse it underwater so the leaves etc. stay inside the bag when you pull it out - much like reaching your hand into the bag to grasp a snake or other biting creature by the neck through the bag and then pulling it into and your hand out of the bag from opposite sides at the same time).

    As the esteemed Mr Cowherd points out, right to focus on freeing the pump and getting it operational or replaced - absent that all will be in vain. The liners are pretty tough (we used to use rolls of roofing liner - about twice as thick and at least half as expensive) but even with conventional over-priced comparatively flimsy pond liner so long as you're careful you should be OK.
     

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