• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Nicole Alderman
stewards:
  • Mike Haasl
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • John F Dean
  • Rob Lineberger
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
gardeners:
  • Greg Martin
  • Ash Jackson
  • Jordan Holland

Our pond needs HAAALLLLP!!!

 
master gardener
Posts: 1939
690
personal care gear foraging hunting rabbit chicken cooking food preservation fiber arts medical herbs homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have a pond, with an unknown depth. It's very dead looking, but it isn't. At least not entirely. In very early spring, we had frogs. LOTS O FROGS! Then, we had a hard freeze, and, the pond got very quiet. It was sad. Eventually, we had frogs again, but not nearly as many, so it was not nearly as joyous a symphony. The previous owners said it was stocked - but we don't know with what, and the water is the opaque, reddish color of the clay soil, here. Hubs bought some mussels, in May, to help clean it up, but when they came, they were so tiny and few, that we (unsurprisingly) still haven't seen any difference. We think we may have seen a turtle or two, and we've seen everything from local dogs, deer and coyote to wild turkeys and small birds down there, drinking from it.

But, there are no visible plants, around the banks, except in one spot, and even that is just a shrub, with a few tufts of some form of grass. Neither of us actually feels safe going down there, because the funnel-shaped slope all the way around it is so steep, and the ground is so bare. There's no solid footing, for a human. I tried to draw on the pic, but... This is a bit easier to read. So each arrow points to a specific ridge or slope.
#1 (looking toward the pond, from the deck you're on the north side, facing south) is nearly a drop-off, with a slope I'd approximate to be about 65-70°. After the visible treeline, there is very little vegetation.
#2 (the east side) is about a 35-40° slope, again, very little vegetation, beyond a very sparse bit of scrubby grass. Right now, it's mostly just rocks and a fair layer of oak leaves. (This, btw, is the slope we had to drag John's deer up, on Sunday! She was all the way down, at the pond. We rigged up rupees, both for our safety & as means to pull her up)
#3 (the south side) from this ridge, the drop is short - maybe 7yards? But, the steepest slope, at I'd guess to be around 70-75°. The wee little boat/white-ish smudge in between those 2 scruffy little junipers, little is about a 12footer.
#4 (the west side) This is (I *think*) the gentlest slope, and looks to be about a 30° one, but it's also the most difficult to access, on foot. From some other parts of the land, which is the only way I've seen it, it's in the distance, so it's truly a guess. It's heavily encased in wild blackberries, more of those scrubby, super-sharp-short-daggered junipers.

The pond is man-made, rain filled, and probably does get some graywater (from our house, only), which gets no manmade chemicals. It gets no agri-runoff, or Any other source that we can find. I'm extremely fanatical very careful about cleaning products, using primarily vinegar and baking soda. Occasionally, I'll make something with a few drops of essential oils, or with citrus peels. We use sal suds or unscented meliora (sp?), for laundry & dishes, my handmade goatmilk, unscented, preservative - free goatmilk soap, for shaving, showers, & shampoos.

This place is heavily wooded in oak, but there are a few other trees I've not yet identified, due to hardly getting out to explore, because I'm too pooped to pop, in between the chores and traveling (which is finally going to slow WAAAAY down!), and we are in the combination 6A/B USDA growing zone.

So, why is this post in plants? Because, I'm hoping my gentle-souled peeps here, can help me figure out what plants to install (in &/or around it), where and how, to boost the health, beauty, usefulness, and vibrancy of this sad little (I dunno, 1/4acre? TOTAL guess!) pond. Would bluegill, perch, or some other fish help? John isn't fond of catfish, and we'd like to clear up the water, from this mud-color.

(Edited for clarification, and to add a little more info)
20191122_164012.jpg
Late Fall 2019
Late Fall 2019
 
pollinator
Posts: 1159
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
99
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Does it get runoff from a cultivated area or maybe an eroding stream bank? Any source of mud other than the banks?


I’m surprised there aren’t many plants around the bank. What part of the world are you in?  Is it a dry climate? Some plants like willows might protect the banks but damage the pond with leaves falling in the water.

I don’t think underwater plants would get enough light.  

I have read that bullhead catfish can keep the mud stirred up.  They are fun to catch. They can probably survive the muddy water better than any other type.

 
Carla Burke
master gardener
Posts: 1939
690
personal care gear foraging hunting rabbit chicken cooking food preservation fiber arts medical herbs homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Ken W Wilson wrote:Does it get runoff from a cultivated area or maybe an eroding stream bank?


Nope

Ken W Wilson wrote:
Any source of mud that can be fixed?


Just the ground it was dug into, as far as we can tell. Really - only rain sourced. The previous owners dug out, said the only source of fresh water is rain. That's why we're surprised there is any life in it, at all.

Ken W Wilson wrote:
I don’t think underwater plants would get enough light.


I'm sorry - by 'put in', I simply meant 'install' - not necessarily in the water, (though I'm not ruling that out, either) but around it. I'll edit the op, to add that and the directionality of everything, as well.

Ken W Wilson wrote:
I have read that bullhead catfish can keep the mud stirred up.  They are fun to catch. They can probably survive the muddy water better than any other type.


I'm not really looking to keep the mud stirred up. I'm looking to clean it up, and make it more welcoming to other wildlife, as well as a more pleasant part of my view, from the deck. Plus, hubs doesn't like catfish. I think the previous owners put in trout, perch, or bluegill? Any of those would work, for our table, too. Do the fish we'd like have preferences for plants to hide in, eat from, or even just feel more 'at home' with?
 
Ken W Wilson
pollinator
Posts: 1159
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
99
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I meant that you might already have catfish in there stirring things up.

I think catfish is the only fish that could thrive in it until the water is cleared up. I’d go fishing and see what you have. You might the check depth too. It might not be deep enough for fish.  It probably is.
 
Ken W Wilson
pollinator
Posts: 1159
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
99
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is long but has a lot of good information.

https://mdc.mo.gov/property/pond-stream-care/ponds-water-quality/clearing-muddy-pond-water
 
pollinator
Posts: 4958
1154
transportation duck trees rabbit tiny house chicken earthworks building woodworking
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The slopes of your pond are too steep.

You need gentle slopes for plant growth, and steep slopes if you want to eliminate plant growth. How you dig the pond determines what you get.

Look at the ponds and lakes of nature. The ones that are shallow in depth get light onto the soil under the water, and it is a grassy, cattail filled pond or lake. The steeper banks ponds and lakes are not.
 
pollinator
Posts: 2734
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
333
books composting toilet bee rocket stoves wood heat homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Shade - When those trees have leaves your pond will be in pretty heavy shade, especially around the banks. You'll get limited growth of anything you plant at the pond edges as a result. I would probably consider clearing a double row of tree to form more of a clearing around it.

Slope - steep slopes tend to lead to surface water flows, erosion and sediment. In the context of your pond, that means you will get lots of murky water and sediment after every rainfall. This will be problematic for many plants and fish. You can reduce surface flow sediment by directing water through a reed bed type arrangement, but also by keeping surrounding surfaces planted and not bare earth.

Leaf fall - surrounded by dense canopy you will get periodic falls of lots and lots of leaves. As they decompose they stress the ecosystem.
 
Carla Burke
master gardener
Posts: 1939
690
personal care gear foraging hunting rabbit chicken cooking food preservation fiber arts medical herbs homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Travis Johnson wrote:The slopes of your pond are too steep.

You need gentle slopes for plant growth, and steep slopes if you want to eliminate plant growth. How you dig the pond determines what you get.

Look at the ponds and lakes of nature. The ones that are shallow in depth get light onto the soil under the water, and it is a grassy, cattail filled pond or lake. The steeper banks ponds and lakes are not.



Yup - that's what I'm trying to figure out how to fix, with all this. We are trying to figure out some way to terrace, but that will probably only work on the south and east sides. The north side, where the house sits, would put the house in jeopardy, if we cut into the hill, and the slope is to steep to add to it. I truly don't understand the thought processes of the previous owners/builders. This was untouched land. There are ravines all over the place. I'd have just dammed one up, rather than digging a huge, worthless hole.
 
Carla Burke
master gardener
Posts: 1939
690
personal care gear foraging hunting rabbit chicken cooking food preservation fiber arts medical herbs homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Ken W Wilson wrote:I meant that you might already have catfish in there stirring things up.

I think catfish is the only fish that could thrive in it until the water is cleared up. I’d go fishing and see what you have. You might the check depth too. It might not be deep enough for fish.  It probably is.



Ohhhhhh! Lol! My bad. Thanks for the clarification - that makes more sense, to me, now.😄

Thanks for the video, too! I'll watch this evening, after my chores are done.
 
gardener
Posts: 3222
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
891
forest garden trees woodworking
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Carla Burke wrote:We are trying to figure out some way to terrace, but that will probably only work on the south and east sides. The north side, where the house sits, would put the house in jeopardy, if we cut into the hill, and the slope is to steep to add to it.



Isn't that a matter of scale, when it comes to the terraces?  The notion in my head is the notion of microscale terracing -- no wider than your shovel.  All you're really aiming to do is change the texture of the slope, not its actual shape, so that water flow is reduced in speed and there's more vegetation versus bare soil on the slope.

Imagine for a moment that you went along the slope and drove in hardwood stakes every 24 inches on countour, perhaps harvested from your oak woods.  And you used those stakes to support four inch oak poles laid perpendicular to the slope.  And then you went along with your shovel and turned out just enough dirt to fill the gap between the poles and the slope, creating a little bench/terrace about the width of your shovel.  And then you seeded it extremely heavily with a well-chosen mix of perennial cover crop seeds (native grasses, clovers, wildflowers, anything that will put down tenacious roots and survive).  Any slope that has even half a dozen of these micro terraces on it will greatly slow down the velocity of surface water flow into your pond, which should in turn reduce the turbidity of your pond water.  The construction wood you use will eventually rot out, but by then the plants themselves and their root systems will have captured enough sediment that it shouldn't matter -- the texture and vegetation of your terraces should persist.
 
gardener
Posts: 709
Location: France, Burgundy, parc naturel Morvan
297
forest garden fish fungi trees food preservation cooking solar wood heat woodworking homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Visit some lakes nearby and if something is abundant and desirable take a few pieces home and chuck em in. Something will stick when the fish are out, and it will bring along healthy microbial life and insects if nothing else, every new found contribution.
The plants might grow close to the surface at first with the water being so mucky, but in time, it will start to clear and they'll grow leaves deeper Canooing is a great way to visit all different areas and habitats. You could just get into these darker places of the lake similar to your own habitat.
If you want to know how deep the pond is get a stick with a rope attached with a wrench or something heavy on the end and drop it in from a save distance.
 
Carla Burke
master gardener
Posts: 1939
690
personal care gear foraging hunting rabbit chicken cooking food preservation fiber arts medical herbs homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Michael Cox wrote:Shade - When those trees have leaves your pond will be in pretty heavy shade, especially around the banks. You'll get limited growth of anything you plant at the pond edges as a result. I would probably consider clearing a double row of tree to form more of a clearing around it.



The pond had no shade, all year. We bought this place in early October '18, and waited on even thinking on any major changes, so that we could see the seasonal changes, wildlife, sun, and wind patterns. Our goal is to do as little as possible to change the natural order of things (not to mention, adding as little as possible to our workload and expenses, lol) - and we really had higher hopes, for the pond, as is.

Michael Cox wrote:
Slope - steep slopes tend to lead to surface water flows, erosion and sediment. In the context of your pond, that means you will get lots of murky water and sediment after every rainfall. This will be problematic for many plants and fish. You can reduce surface flow sediment by directing water through a reed bed type arrangement, but also by keeping surrounding surfaces planted and not bare earth.
Leaf fall - surrounded by dense canopy you will get periodic falls of lots and lots of leaves. As they decompose they stress the ecosystem.



Exactly. This is why I'm asking what plants, and where best to put them. I like the reed suggestion, and have been thinking along the lines of cattails, so I'm glad for that validation! I'm not even sure what other reeds might help, or what other plants would be good to go with. The scrub grass I mentioned is very sparse - it's mostly all rocks. So... start on the slopes, with a ground cover, right? But, *this* is where I'm struggling - I don't know what kind of ground cover to use, what reds or other plants to put in &/or around the pond, including up the slopes. I'm unsure what effects, if any, the specific plants would have on the rainfall that feeds the pond.

Terracing isn't an option, on the north side, because it's too steep, and the house sits about 3/4 of the way up the hill, with the driveway at the top. The west side will have to (and can) be dealt with later, because it's the shallower slope, and the reason we can't access it is because of the thick brambles - so there is vegetation already there, preventing erosion. Is the east side too steep for swales to help? Through everyone's help, so far, I think we need to start with the east slope. That's huge! Having a starting location is an incredible help. But, I'm still not sure what the first step should be. Tiny terracing, or swales? What ground cover plants would be best?

 
Here. Have a potato. I grew it in my armpit. And from my other armpit, this tiny ad:
Rocket Mass Heater Manual - now free for a while
https://permies.com/goodies/8/rmhman
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic