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Sealing a pond with clay

 
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Hello
I m building my first swimming pond, i have been doing some research, listening to podcasts, dvds etc, and we are trying to avoid the use of PDM or cement to seal the pond, i would like to know if anybody has had experience using clay/other natural materials as a sealer on a non-clay soil, and if you can share any details regarding this.
At the deepest point the pond will be 2 meters deep and the majority of the swimming area will be 1.5 meters deep. The pond have the shape of a 10m lap pool with a large paddle area at one end The ratio we are planning for the regeneration zone to the swimming area is 1:2
Thanks
pool-drawing.jpg
[Thumbnail for pool-drawing.jpg]
 
pollinator
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It's me again, you poor soul. I have accidental experience with this and research experience. Wyoming is the premier maker of bentonite, a nice clay sealant. I have a big pond in mind and bentonite was the obvious solution for sealing it, for me. With bentonite you spread it out, till it in and then compact it. I have a note somewhere that told me what the required amount was, I think it was a lb per sq ft, but I could be wrong. So there's that for yoru clay sealant. Or you can be like me with my unintentional pond and simply have thick black clay hidden in the ground. We've dug 9 holes, all in the same general location of our property and the structure of the soil underneath each hole has been different and surprising. Some are sand and rock, then there's the clay pond we made, then there's partial clay and sandstone. It's just interesting. So who knows, you may dig and find all sorts of stuff you didn't know you had.
 
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Or you could use pigs.

Sealing a pond.
 
pollinator
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I've always wanted a natural swimming pond, I think they look fab. That said, you might like to reconsider your layout slightly... The Google Earth view of your garden will end up a little suggestive if you build it as drawn. I say this as someone who looks after a 150 year old garden whose paved stone paths are laid out like a giant willy.
 
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I don't know if, in your research, you already ran Erica Strauss' (of Northwest Edible Life) two part series on sealing her duck pond (Can You Seal a Pond with Clay Kitty Litter? PART 1). She used cheep clumping kitty litter that was made of sodium bentonite. You could also use plain sodium bentonite, if you can find it. She goes into some pretty good detail about how she mixed it and applied, and also talked about what happened when she don't mix it with other soil (Can You Seal a Pond with Clay Kitty Litter? PART 2).

When we were thinking about making a duck pond, we saw some reaaaaaally cheap kitty litter at our local feed store that was just sodium bentonite. I can't recall exactly how much it was, but it was something like $5 for, I think, a 40 pound bag. Your local feed or farm co-op store might also have cheap sodium bentonite kitty litter.
 
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We sealed the bottom of our irrigation pond with clay, and the sides with large pieces of pond liner protected with various layers of junk. When we swim in it, the clay on the bottom gets stirred up and it looks really muddy. Most people like to go and rinse off in the bathroom with clean water before they put their clean clothes back on.
 
steve perry
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Thanks, i read Erica Strauss and had a look at the butler swimming pond dvd and listened to Paul weathon podcast but what i am worried about, is getting a clay or mud mask every time we go swimming, and the idea of a plastic liner disintegrating in the water is annoying me too.

I think i will turn to the first idea i had, more expensive, not as sustainable as i wanted it to be ...we will dig and seal with concrete, cover it with flat rocks, tiles like, the rocks will heat the pool when it is sunny i think, we will put a lower bubbler to circulate water on the deep plunge side and a pump to eject the water through the surrounding gravel and plants area, so the only "eco" aspect of the swimming pond will be the solar powered pump and bubbler and the filtering through the regeneration area instead of chemicals added to the water.

This way we get the best from both world, what do you guys think?
 
elle sagenev
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steve perry wrote:Thanks, i read Erica Strauss and had a look at the butler swimming pond dvd and listened to Paul weathon podcast but what i am worried about, is getting a clay or mud mask every time we go swimming, and the idea of a plastic liner disintegrating in the water is annoying me too.

I think i will turn to the first idea i had, more expensive, not as sustainable as i wanted it to be ...we will dig and seal with concrete, cover it with flat rocks, tiles like, the rocks will heat the pool when it is sunny i think, we will put a lower bubbler to circulate water on the deep plunge side and a pump to eject the water through the surrounding gravel and plants area, so the only "eco" aspect of the swimming pond will be the solar powered pump and bubbler and the filtering through the regeneration area instead of chemicals added to the water.

This way we get the best from both world, what do you guys think?



Best do a fine job with the cement then. I did a cement duck pond and it settled and cracked. It's been a real hassle. I wish I'd never done cement.
 
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Steve,
You can use Bentonite, especially if you've sandy soil. It mixes best with sand, rather than other clay or dirt.

A trick to keeping it clean looking is to mix in the clay with the sand, compacting it aggressively. Then simply lay out stone on the shelves, a nice layer of clean sand/feet friendly gravel in the bottom and make sure you have a bog filter area to handle the general filtering. Use the stone, sand, gravel in several inches to feet as part of the filtering and you won't end up with the cloudy mess.

It'll take a while for the bog/plant filter to get stabilized, but once it does you'll have clear, clean, no chemicals water.

You can also build up your sides with anchored, untreated lumber.
 
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