new natural bottom pond

innernrJune 20, 2011


I set out to make a rain garden...but...with the clay soil here it did not drain at all. I made it deeper and now have a pretty cool natural bottom pond. Downspouts from the house are directed underground to the bottom of the pond. It is only about one month old.

It is not a neat "clean" pond. We plan to let it do its thing with as little intervention from us as possible.

We planted arrowhead (it is spreading like crazy), some pickrel weed, sedges around the edges, and some cardinal flower.

All the following animals have found the pond on their own and appear to have made it their home: one small painted turtle, one bull frog, and one green frog. There are lots of dragon flies, all types of water bugs, and some snails.

I have a cash reward for the kid who finds the first salamander! We really want (and need) some tadpoles to help with the algae. It is amazing the amont of wilflife that will find and use small ponds like this!

Anyone else like or have a natural bottom wildlife pond?


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Nice. How deep is it?
If you spray down the surface of the pond adding cooler tap water it might help clear it up some. Reminds me of a pond that would hold some catfish if it is large enough and you have alot of plants in it. Of course catfish can be fed regular dry dog food.
what is the shape of the hole underwater? just a gradual slope to the center or tiered with a shallow water platform by the shore and a drop off into a deeper central area?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 3:22AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

I use a system like that for an above ground pool. Original purpose was to collect rainwater lol. i find it keeps the water very clean. Of course it has to rain for that to happen .lol The water will clear up as it starts growing and the clay settles down How did you plan for overflow??? gary

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 4:15AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

You need more plants and some Mosquito Dunks. :)

I have dirt on top of liner in three small ponds it the dirt did settle and they are now clear but I have many more plants for cover and beauty. Waterlilies will grow very happily in clay bottomed ponds. :)

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 11:49AM
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The pond (which started as a rain garden!) is only about eight inches deep average. Both ends have large shelves about three or four inches deep. When I decided to turn it into a pond I dug a trench in the middle about 2' - 2.5' deep and 2' wide and 4' long.

Overflow is through a 4" black landscaping pipe under the berm. It empties into the natural drainage that was in place before the pond was there.

I may make it bigger (extend the trench) is still a work in progress. I am a little concerned about the pond filling in over time.

A few questions:

1. How do you muck out a pond like this without destroying plants and animals which have made the mud bottom their home?

2. What would be a good source for lilies that would overwinter in the pond without having to remove and store them over them winter.


    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 12:34PM
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I love it! I wish I could do that for my pond, but although the soil is heavy clay, I'm on a slope.

When you're cleaning out a natural bottomed pond, there isn't one good time of year to do it, and you'll always end up disturbing the wildlife in the muck. Just try to do it as infrequently as possible. Also, when you scoop out the muck, have a surface you can leave it on for a couple of days. This will allow anything with legs to escape (hopefully, back into the pond). You should also sift through the debris and place any life back into the bottom of the pond - as much as possible.

If you want any hardy water lilies to survive over the winter in your pond, you'll have to dig the pond deeper in one area - say, to 20"-24" inches, to ensure they make it. The lilies should be planted or moved to that area in fall.
As well, frogs won't be able to overwinter in a pond that shallow.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 7:38AM
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