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Pond too close to house?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 146
Location: St. Louis, MO
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I'm working on a natural pond(all clay at the level I'm building it).  I am planning on putting it about 6 feet from the foundation wall of the house, with an uphill side retaining wall and walkway at water level, with trellis over it.  Are there any guidelines for how close to build a pond to a house?  Does anyone even have natural ponds close to their house to compare?  Some I've seen, like Sepps are fairly far away.  I'm going to do this whether it's a disaster or blessing, just wondering if anyone has any info on the spacing.  Thanks!

Forgot--here's a pic with some details.  The grey ovals are flagstone, square white centers are cinder blocks, squiggley gray area is walkway.
 
pollinator
Posts: 9813
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Natural (unlined) ponds or other water-catching earthworks should not be any closer than 10 feet from the foundation of a house and probably farther than that.

Reference:  "Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands" by Brad Lancaster
 
Gary Park
Posts: 146
Location: St. Louis, MO
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My main point in starting this project was to get rid of rubble, so I have decided to use it with cement to make a stucco covered type retaining wall, and level the area below as a gardening terrace for now, probably potted fruit trees this year.  Even 10' from the house may be too close for my *first* attempt at creating a natural pond.  I think I'll try down the hill a ways where I could get away with any kind of failure without having consequences.  :O)  The idea of building a natural pond just seems really foreign to me since everyone uses liners.  I don't want liners because they can leak, wildlife can't burrow, wildlife gets stuck due to slippery sides, they don't allow nutrient/chemical dispersion into the ground, and anything planted has to be potted.  I think I need to get some of Holtzer's books...
 
Posts: 167
Location: Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, Canada
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This may be slightly OT but I share your concerns with pond liners and was wondering what other options there are for making a pond more water retentive?
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9813
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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L8Bloomer wrote:
This may be slightly OT but I share your concerns with pond liners and was wondering what other options there are for making a pond more water retentive?




http://www.permies.com/permaculture-forums/3409_0/permaculture/gley-technique-for-sealing-ponds-and-dams-and-walls
 
Gary Park
Posts: 146
Location: St. Louis, MO
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Those methods are good if you have a lot of land, materials, manure from large animals, and periods without heavy rains for weeks.  That won't work for me.  I think I will try 2 methods--1. Line with clay and hope for the best.  2. Use an excavator to poke around like Sepp talks about doing.  Also, I could add from a rainwater catch basin until the leak naturally seals from sediment flow and collection.
 
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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I hope mosquitoes are not a problem where you live.  Between the pond, and your house lights at night, you are creating a mosquito haven.  Put a few bat houses around to control the mosquitoes.
 
Posts: 172
Location: Amsterdam, the netherlands
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Having fish in the pond will prevent in an earlier stage, they will eat the mosquito's before they become adult.

and a frog and toad habitat might help for a lot of other uses and control mosquito population as well.

We have many ponds around, no fish, just frogs/toads and not more mosquito's than elsewhere. But then again im in the netherlands, water country....

 
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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i feel an unlined pond at 6' from your home is quite a bit too close..unless of course it was downhill from the house and there isn't a basement, crawlspace or foundation that could be compromised..

My pond is about 50 to 75 ' away from my  house (haven't measured but am guessing on that )

and it is about 6' below the grade level of our crawlspace and drainfield area..

I don't think I would want it closer..however if it was a lined or contained pond I wouldn't mind it being closer, have actually seen them within a few feet of a house, similar to a pool.

I think I would go at least 20 ' minimum and maybe more
 
Gary Park
Posts: 146
Location: St. Louis, MO
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Well, I *had* decided against the pond(short term), but now somewhat forced into it since we've had so much rain in the last week I haven't been able to use the tractor to terrace out the area, so I ended up with the first pic situation.  When it's warmer I'll be cementing over my rubble wall and laying flagstone over the whole top, and then some plantings will be happening.



So I dug a bunch of blobs of clay out of an area a bit away from the house, and the water drained in, and now it looks like this;
 
John Polk
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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I hope neither your building inspector or insurance agent see those photos.
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As a rule of thumb, you want to slope the grade away from the house for the first 6'.  That's only a rule of thumb though. 

The question you really want to be asking is "What happens to the water in the pond if it leaks out?" 

You should have foundation drainage that keeps your basement dry.  You should have foundation sealant that keeps your basement dry.  You should have landscape grading that keeps your basement dry.  And you should have gutters, downspouts, and drainage lines to move roof water away and keep your basement dry.  A wet basement means mold and rot, bad for the residents and bad for the structure.

Once you've done that, if you have a moisture point source somewhere in the area of your house, you can mitigate it with a drain that leads away to a swale or dry well.

How do you plan that the water will enter the pond?  If it enters by groundwater seepage, then your water table is too high and either you shouldn't have a pond there, or you shouldn't have a house there.  Pick one. 

On the other hand, if your pond is acting as a rain barrel, taking rain off the roof and draining through an overflow to some safe disposal or use, you're golden.

You could, for instance, put a pond in a liner over top of a sand and gravel drain.  The liner could even be several inches of clay, rather than a buried plastic layer.

But you don't want a hole that collects water and holds it where it will slowly seep into the basement, keeping it continually wet.  How far the moisture source is matters much less than how permeable the ground is.

Dan
 
Gary Park
Posts: 146
Location: St. Louis, MO
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The point of this project is *fixing* the problem of the grade going toward the house, rather than away.  What was happening was the dirt was filling up more and more towards the house and up the foundation wall(past the window a few inches as you can see by the old dirt line on the wall).  We have a walkout basement, good gutters, drain gravel against house on uphill side and sides, and never had any water in basement.  I'm working towards keeping it that way.  The terraces will be graded away from the house for sure, and there will be an awning, or at least trellises with plant growth on them, to shade all the south facing windows I'll be putting in later on, probably fall of this year(5x8 to start with).  That will also direct water away, as well as soak it up.  Thank you for all the tips--they are all useful. 
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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it's your house and your property but I still advise against it
 
John Polk
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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If you have a mortgage lender, they will take action to stop your plans if they hear about them.  If they find out after the fact, they well mandate very expensive remedial actions.


 
Gary Park
Posts: 146
Location: St. Louis, MO
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RustysDog wrote:
If you have a mortgage lender, they will take action to stop your plans if they hear about them.  If they find out after the fact, they well mandate very expensive remedial actions.



You are correct, sir.  Even if I want to replace an electrical outlet, I have to hire an electrician who will apply for a permit and pay a fee before any work is completed.  Yes, I know these things.  I got a permit for my fence, but digging the equivalent of a 55 gallon pond is not going to throw red flags in my neighborhood, especially when it can't be seen from the street, and later will be even more secluded behind swales.  When you move into a low-income neighborhood and start installing nice fencing, cleaning up the whole property, and knowing and waving to your inspectors when they drive by, things aren't quite as political and stressful.  Now this isn't a thread about legality or policies--I want to stay on topic.
 
Posts: 93
Location: Seattle, WA
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These are all last year... did you do the pond? How's it working a year later?
 
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