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Did I ruin my pond by using topsoil?

Posted by c2g 6 (My Page) on
Mon, Aug 26, 13 at 10:03

Just finished putting my pond in over the weekend but now I'm wondering if I didn't make a terrible mistake. If you look at the pic, there is an 8" planting shelf around most of the pond. I filled this with a 60/40 play sand/topsoil mix - about 5" worth before I ran out. It was bagged topsoil - the cheapest I could find figuring it would have the least amount of organic materials. Now I read that I should have used clay, which I have a ton of leftover from the excavation.

I was supposed to get the aquatic plants later in the week - blue flag, golden club, great blue lobelia, pickerelweed, scouring rush - but I'm wondering if I should try to dig everything back out and try again with a sand/clay mix???

Any advice?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Did I ruin my pond by using topsoil?

Is the plant shelf under the liner? I think I see an 'inside' row of rocks. Is the planting shelf dirt on top of the liner between the inside row of rocks and the outside edge of the pond? Is the floating stuff on the water from the dirt? Just trying to get clarification.

If there is dirt in the pond it will probably continue to be a problem. Usually you would plant in clay soil in pots in a small man made pond. The fish would also make a mess rooting around in a lot of dirt.

RE: Did I ruin my pond by using topsoil?

  • Posted by c2g 6 (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 26, 13 at 21:42

@frankielynn - Yes, the shelf is contained by the liner. The stone you see inside the pond is stepped out toward the ledge to create a pocket for the sand/soil mix. The majority of the mix was contained on that ledge. Also, the floating stuff on top is from the dirt.

I just finished scooping as much as I could out by hand. I'm guessing at least 60% of it. The rest is trapped in the rocks and I have no idea how much got through and settled on the bottom, but I was very careful adding it in so that wouldn't happen.

I should also add there will be no fish in this pond, also no filters or pumps. Just relying on the plants. I'm hoping I can add clay/sand at this point and not drain the pond and wash off all the stone.

RE: Did I ruin my pond by using topsoil?

Is you pond really shallow? I mean really shallow?
You aren't going to have even a pump to circulate the water to prevent bugs from overtaking your yard?
Do you have neighbors that live relatively close to you?
It looks like you do from the pic.

RE: Did I ruin my pond by using topsoil?

What is the purpose of the pond? Is it for plants like a bog? The peat moss in the bog keeps it from smelling. So I don't know how you will keep your water from smelling stagnate. Even the potted in clay plants in my pond smell stinky when I pull them out to re-pot and they are on a very small scale in relation to the pond. Do you know someone with a pond like this?

RE: Did I ruin my pond by using topsoil?

To have a pond that you can enjoy get rid of all the dirt and clay. This may require a complete cleanout at this point. If you must have something to plant in on your shelf use pea gravel. You can plant directly into the gravel and or sink pots into the pea gravel.
You also should add a pump and filter system at the very least. I would accomplish this with a skimmer and bio falls filter.

RE: Did I ruin my pond by using topsoil?

Unlike clay or sand, garden dirt has high percentage of organic material that decomposes and without the proper circulation and aeration (which supports "good" bacteria) will start smelling bad and attracting mosquitos. There are such things as clay lined and natural ponds, but even those do require some circulation/ water turnover whether thats through use of a pump - or a more natural way (spring fed). If its small enough you could just periodically drain out a portion and refill.

Good luck - I like the looks of it, its a nice shape with the shelves- and I sure do understand your wanting something quieter more natural looking without a lot of water movement (kinda wish I'd gone in that direction) but still there are the basic fundamentals that have to be applied.

RE: Did I ruin my pond by using topsoil?

Come back c2g. I am really curious about your pond and want to know about it. I have 5 little ponds and one bigger one and a bog/fairy garden. If you have experienced this pond in someone's yard and it had great vegetation or something else that made it great I would love to know about it. Maybe there would be a number 7 on a smaller scale in my yard. Please come back and give us more information.

Also, the poster that said use gravel had a good suggestion. You could top dress the gravels with prettier rocks, bigger and different sizes to look like a river bottom.

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