4ft deep sludge!! Any ideas?!

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Hi. I'm new to the forum and have only had a pond for a year. I didn't start small!! We bought a 200 year old house built from clay, the hole they dug the clay from is our pond. It's about 40ft x 20ft and I don't honestly think it's been cleaned in the past 200 years!! Unfortunately by the end of the summer it mostly dries out. This reveals the extensive amount of black decaying sludge. Last year we added some lake worthy heavy duty bacteria stuff and it certainly worked a bit but wanted a quicker result. This year I decided to get try and rid of the sludge, it's around 2 ft deep at the edges and at least 4 ft deep near the middle. The pond would be around 10ft deep from top of water to bottom of sludge when full. I cannot afford £3000+ to have company in to dredge it so started digging. I've cleared the 2ft deep sludge to solid ground but with such steep sides this has been done by lobbing a shovel as high as possible, there is no way to get a wheelbarrow up and down. I just cannot see how I can do the middle. On one edge the previous owner has obviously dumped a load of roof tiles in as the sludge was only a few inches deep and it's reasonably solid to walk on. Is it possible to do this across the whole of the pond?? Tip something in rather than take sludge out and what should that something be?? It is a healthy pond, lots of wildlife, water-lilies, beautiful clear water when full but something needs to be done to make it safe. I have dogs who rarely go in but can do when overexcited, very hot, etc. They have gotten stuck near the edge and needed help out, thankfully without injury so far. I need this pond to have a stable bottom for their sake and mine. A fence is not an option. Sorry for the long post but I need help!! Thanks. xx
 
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Welcome Suffolklady :) Can you post some pictures of your pond, so we can better assist you?
 

j.w

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@SuffolkLady
Are you gonna try and seal the pond somehow to hold water all year long? Just wondering if that is your goal besides cleaning it all out. Sounds like you don't want fish, just whatever comes to visit when it has water in it.
 
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You could carve steps and a ramp. The steps should be placed so the dogs and other wildlife as well as yourself can use them, and if you add brick or textured tile/ rock to the steps, that could give you traction even if it’s under water! If you angle the steps and ramp along the side of the pond, it’ll save you a lot of digging. Other than that, all I can think of to remove sludge is elbow grease, and some kind of filter next year.
 
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You pump it out, let it dry out, fill in a lot of it to make it smaller and then line it with rubber. If you want to keep it the same size it could be smoothed out and just let it fill up again with water. You have a farm pond and they aren't made to be as nice as a koi pond.
 
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j.w

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If big dogs are gonna be in and out of it they could put holes in a liner.
 

addy1

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Welcome to our forum! Post some pictures we would love to see them and it makes it easier to help you.
 
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You could get or rent a trash pump and pump out the sludge if you can send enough water into the pond and not have a problem with the water and sludge you pump out. The pumps used on construction sites can handle a fair amount of solids. Honda makes some but are a little pricey. Start the pump and send the water back in to stir everything up then send the water and sludge out of the pond.
 

pastures

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I realize that you first want to remove first the sludge as quickly as possible and easily as possible. I build ponds and own/operate heavy equipment. Also, I am no longer young at heart and body. Attempting removal by hand your sludge is no longer part of my inventory of "tools." Hiring outside help should not be that expensive when compared to attempting removal by hand. Ronfire's suggestion of "trash" pumps is good except for one argument; you lose the secondary/nutritional value of that sludge to grow flora. I have found first hand that your unwanted "sludge" grows fantastic plants, shrubs, trees, and vegetables. I apologize for adding more confusion to your situation.
 
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Definitely use the sludge if you can. If you pump it out spray it on the Garden or lawn for a great fertilizer.
 
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