The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Sealing an earth pond

Compacting a pondEarth ponds are never 100% water-tight, but it's important to keep the seepage to a minimum so water levels stay high.  As I mentioned in a previous post, compaction and gleying are two traditional methods of creating a (mostly) water-tight seal, but you can't expect either one to be effective all at once.  A good pond will seep less and less over the course of the first two years as sediment fills leaks and as the weight of the water continues to compact the soil.

Sealing a pond with bentoniteBut what if your pond's still leaking in year three?  Pond remediation often includes adding native clay or bentonite (the latter of which is a specific kind of clay) to the soil.  To do so, you have to drain any remaining water out of the pond, mix the additive into the soil surface, then compact the pond to re-create the seal.  Bentonite generally comes as a powder, so you only need one pound per square foot of surface, but with clay you'll need to add a foot or two to create a good seal.

If even this fails, chances are you've picked a poor site for your pond.  In that case, it's best to find a better location and try again.

Permaculture Chicken: Pasture Basics is an introduction to raising poultry on grass.

This post is part of our Earth Ponds lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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