Source: Tales from the Garden – Guest Post by Sally Cronin
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Several years ago, after turning the side yard into a garden, I decided what was needed was a pond.
At the time, my wife worked out of town most of the time. I thought, as a surprise, I would dig a pond for her.
It was late March so the ground was soft enough to dig. I marked the ground with orange spray paint, picked up a shovel and went to work.
Three days later, I had a hole twenty five feet wide by forty feet long and three feet deep. From the bank of dirt to the inside of the hole, it measured a little over four feet deep.
I located the pond between five large oak trees. My thought was a walk around the pond built from sandstone. That was going to have to wait until May or June. The creek has layered sandstone to mine but I needed the water level to drop.
When my wife arrived home the following Friday, she was impressed at the size of the hole I dug in the yard with a shovel.
She was not impressed that my back was not going to allow me to walk. I have a problem with my back from time to time so she was not happy with me, but was with the pond.
The rain came in April and it rained a lot during the month; enough to fill the hole turning it into my pond.
When the rains ended, so did the pond. The water drained and left me with a muddy hole in the ground. Asking the neighbors around the area, they said digging the pond between five large trees was not a good idea.
My daughter is a geological engineer. When she finished snickering, she told me to try bentonite. It’s a powder that, when mixed with dirt and water, gets “gooey.”
Off to the feed store I went and bought ten bags. I mixed and mixed with dirt, then spread and packed it on the bottom and sides. Taking the garden hose, I lightly wet the mixture until the water started to settle in the bottom. I could feel the success ebbing from my breast!
I let the hose run with the intent to fill the pond but Glenn, The Weatherman, predicted rain for the next several days.
It rained, the pond filled, then the water left me again.
The cost of a liner was prohibitive. A friend suggested “roofing rubber.” He used it and got great results. I went to our local hardware store only to find out I could not get the size I needed and it was far more expensive than a pond liner.
So, for the next several years while I saved the money, the grandchildren used the hole as a fort when playing soldiers.
One day I decided that a roll of 4 mil thick plastic would (maybe) work.
To my amazement (and my wife’s as well), it held water. We went and bought 3 koi fish. We had a wonderful time watching and feeding the fish.
A year later, we had the driveway graded and new gravel laid. The man doing the work, Don, said he could dig the pond deeper and pack it with clay. My wife jumped at the chance to have Don do the work.
Three days and several tons of clay later, he finished.
It was a wonderful job. We built a walk around the top and my wife put plants on the outside of the bank. All that was left was water.
I took the old garden hose and filled the pond.
There was one small problem: It wouldn’t hold water and still does not.
Now I have taken you through a tale of woe, but it gets worse.
My four year old grandson dug a pond in his backyard – just like Pa-Pa.
His pond is holding water.