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Hand building a clay pond

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GemmaJF View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Sep 2011 at 8:27pm
The problem with the depth Jon, is I need to dig the clay out of the ground (which is going to make it deeper than it already is), there is the option of digging out the clay, back filling with the remaining topsoil and then puddling. I think first up I'll get the top soil out and see just what I've got to play with.

Yep Suz, I think this is just how they were. We have what remains of one in the field right behind us. It's never held water since I've lived here other than after very heavy rain, but my husband has said it did hold water up to about 20 years ago. It looks very much still like a massive saucer, despite having now been ploughed many times. A look on Google Earth still reveals the shape very well.


Edited by GemmaJF - 26 Sep 2011 at 8:28pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Sep 2012 at 1:34am
Just a quick update, the clay pond was too ambitious by far. When I started work on it last year even with machinery it was next to impossible.

So the pond sat for a year as a kind of shallow crater.

I'll be starting work on it again as soon as the reptile activity ceases for the winter in the wildlife garden, the plan now is simply to re-profile it and to put in a liner.

It seems I'm not very good at replicating a herd of sheep lol.

Out of interest the 'old dew pond' in the field mentioned in the post above did hold water for many months this year (For the first time in at least 10 years), plenty of it during the heavy rains this summer, so with any luck the local newts still have a breeding site this year. 



Edited by GemmaJF - 13 Sep 2012 at 1:36am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Feb 2014 at 4:08pm
Just a new update on this topic. The pond is still just a crater, now an overgrown crater!

Further research has turned up a dried Sodium Bentonite supplier in the UK. This should provide a natural solution so the clay pond project is alive again! 

The Bentonite stuff is a puddling clay, just add water and it will expand to 10 times it's volume. It's low permeability and appears to be the ideal solution.

This time I'm waiting for dry weather, it will be a mid summer project as before we just got bogged down in the wet existing clay and it was hopeless trying to complete the project. (This I've now found was my first mistake lol).

Now the plan is to buy a large pallet of Sodium Bentonite (Fuller's Earth) and hire a plate compactor and possibly a cement mixer. More updates when work gets underway!





Edited by GemmaJF - 24 Feb 2014 at 4:09pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 2014 at 12:33pm
Finally getting going with the clay pond project. I had several aborted attempts to get a cultivator working on the clay in the past. Usually it ended up completely bogged down and I burnt out a drive belt in the past trying to break the stuff up. Finally though at the weekend it had dried out sufficiently from the winter to get a successful go at it. The surface had of course managed to go rock hard in the sun as it dried out, but with an evening of heavy rain the night before I finally got the cultivator to break up the soil:



I'll be ordering the clay in the next few days, so updates to follow. 

I'm going for a very simple saucer shape as is traditional with clay ponds. I've never really been a fan of shelves in ponds as it pretty much seems with gentle slopes one gets an infinite variation in depth for plants. So construction will be kept as straightforward as possible.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 2014 at 3:15pm
Sodium Bentonite clay has been ordered from:



I calculated the amount as follows:

Pond is 5 meters across and vaguely round. So the area is pi by the radius squared. The square of the radius of 2.5 m is 6.25 m and multiplied by pi I get 19.63 meters square, which is near enough 20 meters square to me. I'm not really figuring in that it is a shallow dish, as in real terms it is practically going to be the same as if it was just a circle drawn on the ground.

1 25 kg bag of clay covers 1 square meter with 5 cm of PURE clay. So I would need 20 bags to cover the 20 meters to this depth.

However, I'll be mixing the clay with some of the soil that comes out of the pond. I'm guessing a mix of 1 part clay (wet) to 2 parts soils by volume will be perfect to seal the pond and ensure it is self sealing in the future. This means if I have 20 bags of clay, I get 20 meters square covered with 15 cm of clay/soil mix at a ratio of around 30 percent Sodium bentonite. This fits with the guidance posted by Caleb and information I've gleaned elsewhere.

So that's half a ton of Sodium Bentonite (20 packs) that I've ordered.

I found this page that describes a test that the soil to clay mix is correct which uses a bucket with some holes. There is also some general information.


When the clay arrives I'll do the test and if all is well hire a cement mixer to mix the soil and clay and a plate compactor to do the puddling.

I feel somewhat fortune that the calculations came out very easily, just luck that the pond was already the correct size exactly for a 20 pack pallet of clay. Smile


Suppose I better start digging out all that broken up soil whilst waiting for the clay to be delivered.....



Edited by GemmaJF - 01 Jul 2014 at 3:22pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Omlette Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 2014 at 10:06pm
hard work gemma but worth it. will you still be able to observe your lizards with the pond there?

tom

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suzy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jul 2014 at 12:05am
Ooh Gemma sounds a fun project! When we moved to this house 25 years ago we were surprised to find we were on clay. Our other house in the same town had very light soil. Our new neighbour told us that with the clay you need to get on it in the spring when it was just right...too early and you could hardly lift your spade, too late and it had baked like concrete - so I smiled when I read yours had gone rock hard in the sun!
Good luck with it and look forward to progress reports.
Suz
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jul 2014 at 9:31am
Yep Suz, that's exactly what our clay is like, either waterlogged and too heavy to work or set like concrete!

The plan Tim for viewing the lizards is to have some raised decking around the far side of the pond. I should gain about 1/2 a foot at the edge when the clay is added too. The decking idea seems to have lots of benefits. It will give me access to the log piles to photograph lizards, let me view the pond from the far side and also give an open basking platform for reptiles that won't get completely swamped by weeds in the summer. It will also provide hiding places for all the animals underneath and give me access even in the wettest winters when often the wildlife garden becomes one huge mud pie!

The grassy square on the left will also be decked and have a nice garden bench to sit on. I might even get the time to sit down one evening and start reading Richard's book there! (I live in hope lol)

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jul 2014 at 2:30pm
Pallet of clay has arrived:



This morning we removed 10 barrow loads of soil from the pond, most of this was lumpy bits of clay and is being used to level parts of the garden. What is left is finer and will be sieved to produce a pile of fine soil with no stones for mixing with the clay. Fortunately using a cultivator brings most of the lumps and big stones to the surface, so raking it off to leave finer stuff is fairly easy to do.



The next session of soil removal should see the center starting to drop as we'll be taking material from the middle of the pond to form the dish shape.

I should mention that I have a decrepit back, so I'm getting a lot of help from my son with moving the soil and clay etc, so credit to him for most of the hard work involved. Smile

It has occurred to me one way forward would be to mix the Sodium Bentonite clay directly into the soil with the cultivator. I think on a larger pond this would be a great way to do it once a shallow dish is formed. With a relatively small pond though, we are going to first remove the soil, mix it in a cement mixer with the puddling clay and then put it back in. More work but I think I'll get much more control over the depth of the clay lining and the proportion of clay to soil working the hard way.



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