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Pond placement on a sloping property with road/runoff system below us?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 47
Location: Cascadia Zone 8b Clay
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Hi Folks,
Excited by this topic this week - as ponds are big on my mind as we head into summer and the rains disappear...

We have about 2 - 2 1/2 acres of sloping meadows below our woods - the house is on a rise near the bottom center of the property - I'd like to put a pond in up below the woods - where the water can be up to your knees in winter and spring as it is - but I also know, according to the state platt maps that our soil is only about 18 to 36 inches deep - lots of clay, some sand, and does not 'hold water well" - so all our neighbors have french drains and runoff channels to feed down hill to the pastures across the road from us... We put a swale in on the field where we put in the gardens, just above the road and about level with the house area - but I'm not sure what I need to consider for a pond that would essentially be above the house (although quite a bit above). We alerady need to do wome work here as there is no drainage on the property and the house is on a cement slab, 30 yrs old and the slab is cracked - repaired, but I see why it craceked after our first year here - the water all sits around us all winter - and then in summer we get this dry out and it's practically rock hard adobe.

We have plans for and are adding organic matter with chickens, chop and drop and may even bring in wood chips, but I would erally love to put in a pond up above at the edge of the woods and figure out a way to use it for summer irrigation of the gardens. The swale we put in stays full unless I drain it with a hose - and even then it refills about half way within a day or two - so there is definitely water in the ground above it. We have some big healthy oaks up there in the meadows - so I'd want to go to the other side of the slope away from where they are. How do I determine if this is an idea worth pursuing without causing more problems? I could put a pond at the bottom of the slope, which is lover than the house and close tot he road, but then I'd have to pump water uphill to use it - seems a less desirable choice.

I know the runoff gulleys around here in winter are full and running - a LOT - so there is plenty of water - just not sure if trying to capture it in a pond is a great idea or a disaster in the making!

Would love a pond though...

Thanks

Becky

oh - btw I'm in Oregon - south of Eugene - @ 600ft - zone 8 - I don't know how to make my profile say that stuff. ;P
 
gardener
Posts: 856
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
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The way I look at it, ponds are ALWAYS good. Put one above your house AND below. Then another one to the side!

I personally cannot see any negative to having as many ponds as a person can have.

I'm not really sure what "disaster" you are envisioning? Obviously, if a pond is above your house and is held back by a levee / embankment , then you want
to construct it good and strong, so you don't end up with a pond IN your house.

 
Posts: 3366
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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First, check your rules on building a pond. If it is OK, then build one as high as you can. Build a second one below the house. Swales in between to control water flow. Put in a solar pump to pump from the lower pond to the upper one.

If you can't build a pond, then you need to build a LOT of swales.
 
Posts: 215
Location: Douglas County OR
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Hi Becky, sounds like you are in my neck of the woods!
Would a pond above the house make any change to the already saturated soil around the house in the winter? I was visiting Aprovecho (Cottage Grove, Oregon) and one of the people said that with increased infiltration they were getting springs downhill of the swales/berms. I know a pond is supposed to be sealed, but if the seal is imperfect, you'd get increased infiltration of the area, you migt find more water near the house in the winter. On the other hand, capturing the water, with an overflow control that routes it to swales or hugelbeds below the house, might help with both parts of the year.
Gani
 
Becky Mundt
Posts: 47
Location: Cascadia Zone 8b Clay
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Hey there guys - thanks for the responses!

I do think the issue is saturation and not ending up with a pond in the house.

My neighbor built his house on a similar slope and put in french drains behind the house - I think they should have done that here as well.

I could put a french drain just above the house, then put the pond above and a bit south of that slope line - that would at least put the house out of the
direct path of any saturation that occurred if it did happen.

Thing is the ground up there is saturated all winter already; so what I was hoping was to reduce that saturation with a pond above and then swales and
food forest in those meadows below the pond. I think I will need a spillway along the southern perimeter flowing down to a lower pond to really address
the potential of too much water up there - maybe I can put a dam in the lower pond that has a spillway to the existing runoff system that goes under the road...

Then if we get big rains the water has someplace to go other than washing out the whole slope.

The woods at the top of the property do a pretty good job of holding the water - the soil is deeper there - but we need to build up the soil everywhere else
and I do not want to do anything to the woods - I want to let them be.
 
gani et se
Posts: 215
Location: Douglas County OR
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Sounds like you have been thinking this through pretty thoroughly. If there is any way, in addition to a french drain just above the house, if you can get the ground sloping away from the house slightly as well, it can reduce the amount of water going into the french drain.
"If we get big rains" Like the 10 inches in 3 days or whatever that craziness was that we had in December, here on the west side of Roseburg.
You know that the state basically owns all the rain that hits the ground except what you can divert from your roof?
 
Becky Mundt
Posts: 47
Location: Cascadia Zone 8b Clay
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Gani,

Yeah, the State owns us all, I suppose. *sigh* but since the water here is all channeled to run under the roadway below us and into the pastures across the road,
I figure they don't want it...

If I put in a pond does that mean they come make me fill it in? I am thinking I can do it - my neighbor put one in hehind his place, but it's fairly small. I'd
want something bigger...

Maybe I did swales and put in trees first so no one notices. lol

I am thinking on all this pretty hard, esp after watching Mark Vondermeers video on soils nd forestry - his whole story of roadways creating natural dams
and soils above them getting saturated got me to thinking pretty seriously about the question of how much damming and water holding I really want to do...
I do NOT want a collapsed hillside sliding into the road. ;P

On the other hand, the road itself is hilly, and my lowest spot is at a low spot for the road too, so we do have real three dimensional contour on this place,
it's not just one slope in one direction. The house is at the high point in the mid section of the property even if it is near the road and at the foot of
the property - but the slope just behind the house, even though it is higher than on either side, is steep enough that it dumps the water down under the house,
hence the need for the french drain. And the people who built this place ran the gutters right down to the base of the back side (up slope) of the house too.
None too swift. I am replace all those downspouts with barrels and a system to shunt the water over to the gardens with gravity feed to the swale and
barrels.

I guess at least I can say I'm going to make good use of the water that does fall on my roof. Hah.

Anyhow, I appreciate your thoughts here. I'm just hoping I can work out a plan and get it implemented before next Spring.
There is so much to do around here it's pertty much non stop every day all day just to keep up and get a few things done.
At least the gardens and first hugels are in and the hugels are awash in buckwheat, clover and daikon flowers, perfect for the bees who
moved in three weeks ago - so far so good!
 
Author
Posts: 7
Location: vermont
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a complicated scenario with lots of possibilities,
but I’d have to see photos, drawings, maps, and
have a phone conversation to really tackle this,
or make any useful recommendations. at least that’s the way I like to work doing long distance consulting. ponds have much more complex ingridients
than say a garden or house building project that you can to and fro about in prose: soil type, water table and its annual variations, slope of land, vegetative cover, size of watershed draining to pond site, and more. Can you find a local experienced pond builder to help? perhaps the extension service or nrcs? sometimes a fire dept would be happy to have a fire hydrant hooked up to the pond, and might have some pond savvy to contribute. are there are nearby ponds with owners who could contribute stories of construction, etc. how about a biggish
(10-20 ft diameter) test pit to start with in your favorite site, and see what you can learn from that?
it’s the way most ponds begin.
 
Posts: 72
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As this thred is several years old, I realize that I am not likely posting for the benefit of those who started it but rather for those who come across it later.  As the original poster is in the pacific northwest there is a potential resource asset that is workably close if for no other reason than education.   The original poster has raised issues associated with soil stability on slopes and around ponds which are particularly relevent to the resource I have in mind.  That is   
Bamboo Garden Nursery  The site is not only a place to buy various bamboo varieties but also a vast source of information on varieties and the growing of bamboo.  Because the original poster has concerns for soil stability it is worth noting that bamboo grows a powerful mesh/mat of roots idealy suited for land stabilization.  And one of the themes in this strip is about stability of dams and ponds. some varieties of bamboo are specifically used for just that purpose,  Confusion of bamboo with water loving reeds is not justified as most (all?) bamboos will not invade water as submersion of the roots in water kills bamboo. It is used to stabilize earthen dams for just that reason, it will not invade the water and unlike trees it will not drive a root through the dam to make a leak.   The bamboo grows with a massive root mat that is basically shallow rooted and ties the earth together.  This particularly true of running bamboos which will elnarge their groves vigorously, but with a minimum of planning and knowledge are easily controlled without extensive labor.   they also make wonderful forage for grazing and browsing livestock (you may have to fence out goats) and the forage remains green all winter.  Most of the bad reputation of running bamboo comes from urbanites who are dismayed when the bamboo goes under fences from the neighbor's yard because it was planted up against the fence.   But outside of suburbia where it can be planted with open access on all sides if it starts to spread it simply is contained by mowing it with a lawn mower when the shoots come up in the spring.   and in larger plantings it is easily controlled by cutting the rhizomes (done with a subsoil plow in really large plantings.   Some varieties (e.g. Yellow Groove, aka Phylostachys aureosulcatta) are specifically chosen for earthen dam stabilization. because it not only stabilizes the earth but also shades out trees that would defeat the dam.  I would encourage all permies to at least familiarize themselves with the benefits that can be achieved with this family of plants.  There are varieties that can be grown most everywhere in the U.S. and parts of canada. (some even on snowy mountain sides.)
-- and you can make stufff out of it too.
-- and it is decorative
-- and it makes for great privacy barriers
-- and it makes great wind breaks
-- but generally do not plant it right up against buildings for a variety of reasons
-- consider fire risk when establishing groves because it burns intensly rather like pines

In other words like anything else in nature it has great uses but needs a modicum of knowledge in best usages.

Bamboo Gardens is located at
18900 NW Collins RD, North Plains, OR 97133
They can provide a vast array of varieties and an imense amount of knowledge, from their website and even provide advice and answers to questions.
Check in your own area, because if you can find a variety you like ,you can often get it for free (which is what I did and have freely done for others.  Spring is the best time. and 4 to 10 foot tall plants are best.  I have posted about the transplanting techniques.
 
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Groundnut Tubers(apios Americana) Improved Variety- Ready to Ship
https://permies.com/t/94677/Groundnut-Tubers-Apios-americana-Improved
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