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is a gravel filled pond a bad idea?

 
pollinator
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I want to build a water storage pond, but also make it look fairly nice for the neighbors and provide some habitat.

My idea was to dig a fairly deep pond, maybe five feet deep. Then the pond would be filled with four feet of gravel, with one or two sections left open down to the bottom. That way, in the spring, my pond would be full up to the top, and the shoreline plants would be growing out of the water. But by midsummer, due to evaporation and irrigation, the water level would have fallen well below the gravel. This would stop evaporation and preserve the water for irrigation. Frogs, fish, and other inhabitants would survive in the deep spot, as would my water lilies. (Helping to prevent more evaporation.) A small pump hooked directly to a solar panel will move water to an elevated barrel or tank for gravity irrigation. (This way I will not need batteries on the solar panel; the tank is a battery.)

I think this is a fairly good mimic of how a pond generally works in nature.

However, would the water in the gravel go stagnant and anaerobic, turning the pond into a slimy mess? If so, what could I do about it?

Place empty plastic containers and milk crates under the gravel, to increase open space?

Stock organisms which would work through the gravel and clean it?

Put small solar fountains or waterfalls around the edge, which would draw water out of the gravel and splash back down into it? (Fish don't like fountains, but the gravel would isolate them from the disturbance.)

Any advice is appreciated!
 
pollinator
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Have you thought about how much water you want to be storing? How many gallons? A gravel filled pond won't hold much compared to one that's not filled with rock.

Another thought.....if the pond hosts plants and animals, the gravel will eventually silt in unless you have an aggressive pump going. Even then, you'd have to pay attention to pond maintenance to prevent it from becoming a bog. And if tree leaves build up or enter the pond, the gravel will clog that much faster.

I've seen a set up where water was stored in a gravel filled well, a really large one. The gravel completely filled the well and was basically covered to prevent leaves and dirt from entering. I believe there was a screen or fiber mat that prevent silt from entering. The well collected water than drained toward that end of the property. The property owner used the system so take advantage of season heavy rain run off while, but wanted no danger to his very young children. He had lost a cousin to drowning and didn't want that to happen with his family. The graveled area was used as a patio/picnic spot and looked quite attractive while being functional. I don't know how much water a system like this could store.
 
pollinator
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Gilbert Fritz : without a source of clear cold water to keep your ponds from over heating I expect that you will be lucky to keep chubs, small bullheads,
and snapping turtles! Even if you escape algae blooms, i expect by August the ponds will stink, maybe a little, maybe a lot, ever seen/smelt the pool in
the back yard of a Bank Repo'd house?

Your biggest problem is going to be shading the ponds. You can look into floating islands which should be exotic enough to surprise and please your
neighbors !

I think that the total number of frogs, crayfish and other aquatic animals in may june will be to much for your pond if it shrinks that much in Aug Sept,
if you net the surplus out where are the carcasses going ! I expect that you will need several sets of fountains and falls to Oxygenate your water !

The only other thing i can think of is a pond without any aquatic animals at all, set up like a grey water filter, interconnected reeds and cattail beds
and you could still have some islands and misting type falls, without fish you could control the mosquitos with BT and Bird and Bat Houses !

Big AL
 
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I'm going to echo the concern mentioned earlier about silt build up.

If there is plants and organic matter, sooner or later the gravel is going to fill up with silt, and you would need some way to wash it out.

Maybe a raised pond on a slope, with a clean out pipe at the bottom of the pond/slope?
 
Gilbert Fritz
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OK, so what about large rocks instead of gravel? Would this have more space making it harder to silt up? Also, what about the idea of using milk crates etc under rocks?

Would large concrete rubble change the PH dramatically? I know people sometimes use it as fish habitat, but that seems like it might be a problem. If it was not, it should be easy to stack so as to leave a lot of space.


(I would only be stocking the pond with the right amount of fish for the midsummer smaller pond. And frogs, toads, insects, etc. should just be able to leave. This is a small suburban pond with a liner, not a large country pond. The fish would probably be goldfish.) The water level would only be high briefly in the spring. )

The floating island idea is a good one!

I would hope to store about 18,000- 30,000 gallons of water, but that might not be practical! It would certainly be a large pond. That is why I hoped to have most of it be something besides open water.

If I had two deep areas, one on each side, and set it up so the water circulated between the two through the gravel, AFTER going through some kind of filter, would that help?

Thanks for the advice!
 
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one problem with a narrow deep pond is going to be lack of oxygen. ponds get oxygen from the surface water and from plants, you won't have enough surface for the water to get much oxygen and it will be too narrow to have enough plants. If you just wanted store water there is a thread here that mentions stealth ponds as being big holes filled with rocks so it doesn't look like a pond on the surface. you might be able to do that and then have a separate pond with plants and fish and that one would be the right depth and width for having the right amount of oxygen.

have you considered a dry well?
 
Cris Bessette
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"OK, so what about large rocks instead of gravel? Would this have more space making it harder to silt up? Also, what about the idea of using milk crates etc under rocks?"


It would take longer, but eventually any organic matter or soil would build up. I still think a drain system would be necessary
 
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Using something like milk crates to improve the void volume is perfectly sensible. Plastic pallets are more readily available in my area.

There are commercial systems for stormwater harvesting along these lines. For example, have a look at http://www.atlantiscorp.com.au/index.php/atlantis-solutions/recycle-water-solutions. They have solutions for preventing entry of silt, leaves, etc.

Finding the balance between a highly-engineered pond under a driveway or parking lot and an attractive garden feature with fish and plants will be a challenge but doable.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Maybe I will just have a standard pond for fish, etc, which will overflow (through a filter!) into a gravel filled pond.

Would it be entirely crazy to have the smaller pond ON TOP of the large gravel pond? The gravel would have a depression in the center, the depression have a pond liner in it.
 
allen lumley
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Gilbert Fritz : I believe that your primary goal here is to stack as many functions as possible, My suggestions then would be to check out Rainwater collection,
running your grey water through a series of collection beds and lagoons and then into your Ponds, if there was any appreciable drop in height
from your house, small weres/mini-dams could be created to mix and increase the Oxygen content of your water!

Then I would go for as deep a pond as I thought I could get away with, adding floating Islands could drastically reduce water temps directly underneath and create
much additional Aquatic Habitat! Finally you can use the Permies search function to Find and read up on Trompes which can be installed next to or even inside your
pond to greatly Cool and Aerate all waters flowed through it ! Best of luck For the good of the craft ! Big AL
 
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