A pond should hold water – after all, that’s its purpose, right? Well, you may be surprised to learn that it’s not as easy as it looks. Ponds and water features are notoriously difficult to maintain and can cause a lot of frustration if they’re not built correctly.
Holding water in a pond can be done by using the right materials, ensuring it’s sufficiently deep and wide, properly preparing the substrate (or bottom), and preventing leaks. But it takes a bit more than just a hold in the ground with some water thrown in. To create a pond that will hold water and also look great, there are a few key steps you should follow!
Whether you are looking to put in a new pond or are having trouble with your pond’s water levels, we have the help you need. A water feature that maintains its water supply looks better and supports the entire ecosystem you want to nourish.
So, let's dive into some potential reasons your pond isn't holding water and explore solutions for finally achieving the backyard oasis you first envisioned.
Importance of Your Pond’s Clay Content
One key factor determining a pond's water retention ability is the proportion of clay particles in the soil. Clay contains minerals that expand when wet, effectively sealing spaces between soil particles to block moisture passage. Ideally, the soil mixture lining your pond should have at least 20% clay content.
Without adequate clay levels, gaps remain for water to drain through unimpeded. And most native soils naturally lack sufficient clay levels. Testing your pond's soil composition through commercial labs reveals percentages of sand, silt, and clay.
This not only diagnoses current drainage issues but helps evaluate if fully reworking and amending the soil is needed. Sometimes, totally excavating and repacking the hole with bentonite clay containing blankets may be necessary.
Amending marginal soils with additional bentonite can also compensate for low native clay levels. Mixing in high clay materials makes the difference between a functioning liner and a leaking sieve.
Patching Small Leaks
Is your pond losing water slowly? Pinpointing and patching small leaks may be the cheapest repair route. Mixing bentonite clay powder with water to the thickness of mud can temporarily plug holes in earthen liners when smeared over cracks.
Specialized liquid leak sealers made for ponds also close gaps in liner materials when applied liberally to overlapping distress areas. Sealant effectiveness will vary based on damage size and soil permeability factors - so make sure to research the best product for your situation.
There are various types of pond sealers available, so it is important to choose the right one for your pond. If you have a low native clay content in your soil, consider adding high clay materials to ensure an effective sealant. If you are using liquid sealers, be sure to follow the label instructions carefully.
For minor moisture weep points, these quick fixes retain functionality and extend your pond's life relatively affordably before undertaking major liner installations. Diagnosing problems early and targeting repairs makes reviving your water feature more viable – plus, you’ll save time and money over costly replacements down the line.
Big Leaks Require Big Solutions
PVC/EPDM Liners to Help Hold Water
If your pond is experiencing rapid water drainage or extensive liner damage, replacing the entire waterproof barrier may become necessary. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber offer durable, flexible liner materials resistant to weathering.
EPDM liners provide maximum longevity, with thicker 45-60 mil options handling years of freeze/thaw cycles. However, PVC liners offer cost savings on initial setups. Calculate the surface area and purchase custom-sized sheets or opt for field measurement installations. Consider insulating underlayment below – as this will help maintain optimal temperatures and prevent water loss.
Properly prepare the excavated area first by smoothing and clearing sharp rocks or sticks to prevent future punctures. Run liner up over all ledges, securing and hiding edges behind finishing layers of rock or soil for natural integration.
The Bentonite Liner Method
For a more ecologically harmonious approach, bentonite clay liners utilize natural minerals to self-seal as water activates the swelling properties. Compacted sodium bentonite layers hold stability for decades when correctly mixed and applied per guidelines.
Though labor intensive, a thick bentonite clay pond bottom avoids environmental plastic waste and offers regeneration if ever compromised. Liner replacement may disturb established ecosystems less. Clay is also more visually appealing than visible plastic sheeting. Evaluate options based on budget, priorities, and green objectives.
Can New Liner Overlay Old?
It’s a common question whether new liners can be laid over old. The answer is yes, but the substrate must first be smoothed out and free of sharp rocks or objects that may puncture the new material. As for previously used plastic sheeting, it can be pulled off as long as the base is leveled to create a solid foundation for installing a new liner.
With both methods, layering will affect overall thickness and water capacity, so consider these variables when selecting your liner material. Choosing natural soil for integration could lead to fewer leaks if the right combination of clay and sand is available in your area.
Ultimately, each pond project requires an individual assessment with guidance from expert contractors or landscapers who understand local geology and climate conditions.
Tips for Maintaining a Water-Filled Pond
Once you’ve got your main issues worked out, there are other steps you can take to keep your pond water-filled. Regular maintenance is key when it comes to keeping a level, healthy pond. Here are just a few tips to consider:
Take a walk around the edges and inspect the liner borders periodically. Remove any tree roots or nuisance critters attempting to burrow into the protective barriers, compromising your carefully installed fixes. Refill any little tunnels or gaps you notice to prevent enlarging entry points. Keeping the perimeter secure goes a long way in longevity.
Lining pond sides with some larger accent stones adds stabilization while preventing gradual soil erosion at the same time. Unsecured edges erode bit by bit from rain runoff, wind, and other factors, absorbing small bits of your precious water supply. Edge stones break that process while visually enhancing, too!
As things decompose, they release loads of nutrients that feed nasty algae blooms and cloggy gunk. Neither makes for good pond views or health!
Regularly fishing out and clearing fallen leaves, sticks, and other materials ensures cleaner water that resists green takeovers. Adding a few beneficial water plants like lilies assists, too, by soaking up chemicals while looking pretty.
Aerating your pond avoids lifeless zones by keeping the party moving, so to speak! Fountains, bubblers, and installed waterfalls prevent sitting water where problems start by stale pockets. Pay a little for power bills and gain healthier environs and happier critters! A good trade in our book.
Have Pond Needs? We Have Solutions!
While a leaking pond causing water loss frustration is common, identifying causes and pursuing fixes can restore functionality to your valued water feature investment. Assess soil suitability, tackle smaller leaks early using specialized sealants, replace extensive liner damage, and attend to regular maintenance for lasting solutions.
The pond expert at Living Water Aeration is here to help you learn about the nuances of water health management. Our goal is to equip you with the skills and confidence to handle any challenge your pond throws at you.
With our thorough knowledge and expertise in all areas of water features, we can provide a customized approach tailored to your needs - from small one-time repairs to large-scale installations. Have pond questions? Let’s chat!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the cheapest way to waterproof a pond?
For smaller leaks, specialty sealants and patches offer affordable repair options under $50 before committing to full liner replacements.
Should you put anything on the bottom of a pond?
Yes, adding bentonite clay during construction or amendment provides natural minerals that expand when wet, sealing gaps that allow water to drain away.
How do I get my pond to hold water without a liner?
Incorporating bentonite clay into soils or compacting clay layers forms natural liners utilizing swelling properties to fill spaces when activated by water.
Will clay hold water in a pond?
Clay particles contain minerals that expand when saturated, blocking drainage spaces between soil particles. Ponds require at least 20% high swell clay content levels to effectively retain water.
What causes a pond to not hold water?
Soil types lacking adequate clay allow moisture passage through foundation gaps. Other causes include liner leaks, erosion tunnels along edges, debris clogs, lack of circulation, invasive root networks, or small animal burrowing issues.