Earth pond newbie in Illinois with just under a quarter acre.


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Hello Everyone,

My name is Ryan Dunn, and I'm the proud/daunted owner of a new (old) dugout pond in Northern Illinois.

I look forward to digging into the weeds (sorry) in an effort to learn as much as I can about restoring and maintaining the pond I inherited last November. As winter washes through I'm getting excited/anxious/terrified about what I have ahead of me. Here are some details, though I don't know much of what they mean right now outside of guesses of logic…

- My pond has an upstream slough which sits at the base of a freight railroad line
- Its outflow runs in a gulley, through a drain under our road, and across to a larger lake
- I also spotted a drain out of the pond which is about five feet below pond level
- I inherited an aeration/fountain from the previous owner, who was not using it recently
- The pond last fall was covered in duckweed/algae
- I don't know the depths, or the best way to obtain them
- The water seems relatively clear, though the bottom seems quite mucky
- Seems like many years of leaf and plant fall created a fertile environment for the bad stuff
- I skimmed a little bit this past weekend and saw a bunch of small green sunfish, is that a bad sign?
- Last fall the pond was TEEMING with frogs. Good or bad, I don't know what is a good balance?

Some of my goals…

- Take stock of my pond, what's in it, etc.
- Learn how to maintain the pond, inflow, outflow, etc.
- On that note, learn the do's and dont's of maintaining
- Discover how this pond actually works
- Improve what I can, maintain what is working
- Learn the potential dangers/pitfalls/etc.
- Get some great ideas on what to do with it in the future

Any insights, or just "it will be ok" type replies would be appreciated. I've included a handful of images that will help you all see what I've inherited.

Thanks in advance everyone.

…ryan
 

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Everything you said was very entailed which is useful for planners..I tend to go feet first and go with a flow of the land I am working with.take this place ..was our last property in the UK and loved the way the garden ended up...Very steep land and with a high water table really it was good it was sloped otherwise all the land would have been a lake...took a lot of digging to make two small ponds with a stream in between that flow via a pump...never planned it just dug one top pond as a wildlife pond and it them progressed..our ducks loved it but also the wildlife in it, which was not so good.
I saw yours and thought huge..ducks would love that, but that is because I am mad about ducks..Near this place is a natural park with a huge lake/pond, we saw one year, otters swimming and although it is permitted for fishermen's use, the wildlife live side by side with then.
Ducks nesting in various places and walking around it is the best...Sure your on the right road Ryan with your observations...going to be a real centre point to your garden....mine are just mere puddles in comparison to yours, but enjoy them immensely .
 

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addy1

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Welcome to our forum!

I have never been blessed with a huge pond like that. One thing I have read that people that do have one like that have installed large aerators

Sunfish mean the water is healthy. I would not worry about them.

Love frogs! We went from being overwhelmed with black crickets and flies, when we first moved in here, until we installed a pond. The birds, frogs, toads got rid of them, well decreased the huge numbers. The crickets used to manage to get into the basement, make a racket, never have any there now. Our lower patio would be black with them.
 
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Welcome @liftingfaces ! I'm in your neck of the woods.

You may get more help from this forum:


You are of course more than welcome to hang out with us here, but the Pond Boss deals with larger, dirt or clay bottom ponds. They may have some more specific information on dealing with weeds, stocking, how to handle the bottom debris, etc. A natural bottom pond is a different kind of approach. For example, a liner pond doesn't have the interaction from under the debris that accumulates on the bottom. An earth bottom pond has both top and bottom exposure to nature, which helps the debris break down faster.

A natural pond can get overwhelmed with organic debris and weeds, but we find with the ponds in our subdivision that tends to happen more when the surrounding homes are using heavy fertilizer on their lawns that's getting washed into the ponds. It encourages weed and algae growth and unsettles the natural balance. Then we get mosquitoes and they want to treat for those... and it goes on and on.

Good luck with your new pond - you're gonna love it!
 
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I meant to add - with your pond having a natural flow in and out, you want to be very careful about what you add to the pond or how you handle any issues. Your slough is really just a big, natural bog filter!

Your property is gorgeous!
 
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Ok being the crazy side and going extremes i would look at building a bog . Bring it up to one of the higher areas in the lot and have a stream that is visible from my favorite chair in the back yard. The out feed would need a fence installed as i would place a couple koi in the pond they will devour the duck weed. And the bog will clear up the water so it is crystal clear. your pics show they used a fountain , that and aeration can help keep the duckweed from taking over but every time it rains you'll get a fresh supply from the slough
 
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definately a bit over sized for what you have but it gives you the idea and you can just do a pea stone bog instead of the expensive aquascape matrix blocks
 
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Wow, thanks so much already for the great input and feedback. What a great resource and community.

Ponders - We love ducks too. Right now we have a lot of lawn (too much?) and it's become a landing pad for geese which are cool but can definitely get messy. I have plans to put in more garden beds to reduce the open spaces, but not sure what to do to attract the ducks! We do have a resident crane who has a bethrothed lifesize sculpture of a crane in our pond (from the previous owner). You can spot it in a couple of my photos if you look close. :)

Lisak1 - Hello neighbor! Great input on the different types of pond owners. As you can see I'm still dipping my toes in (sorry again!). Also great point about the cycle of over-fertility and how it behaves with and without a liner. I will need to observe this season for sure and watch what's going on. I'm definitely already thinking ahead about what comes into and heads out of our pond. Great insight there.

GBBUDD - I love the idea of adding a bit of a stream/falls to this pond. I already have a slough upstream feeding into my pond. How would these two play together? I suppose this bog you describe would be on its own circulation. Great ideas and those AquaScape guys are a trip. I saw their Shaq build a couple months ago. Funny. On a different note, I saw you are in CT. I actually just moved from Woodbury, CT, where I had a lovely home in a country town, but alas no pond.

And hello Mmathis and j.w. Great to be lurking around here. Looking forward to getting smarter in all of your presence.

Thanks again.

…ryan
 
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You have an incredible looking property there. ,where are you now.

Yes the bog and stream i referred to would be
separate from the slough. The slough would be a great pre filter but in the same breath is also a constant fight where the duck weed will always be in your pond. How ever koi devour duckweed. I put together a bunch of videos on pond building and streams as well as pond less. the dr poe video is a great example of how to go about tying a natural pond /earthen to a man made bog. Here are a bunch to give you all the ideas you could ever want.


 
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GBBUDD - I was trying to get to bed early tonight. Dangit!! Thanks so much for the amazing resource. I'll definitely be checking all this out.

Thanks a million.

…ryan
 
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Welcome liftingfaces. Looks like we have the same luck and I'm also north of Chicago. I also inherited a quarter acre natural clay pond. I'm in the process of rehabilitating my pond. First to go were the cattails that has started to invade the pond. Next would be a new power line that I'll be extending from the house. I will be aerating it as much as I can. Doing it in stages.
117445134_10223070012962527_2347306039039239354_o.jpg
 
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Ducdoc - Ha! I literally had to do a double take. I didn't even realize there WAS a pond in the first image. That's impressive. Is it a standing pond or is it fed with an inlet/outlet?
 
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We have not heard from you since your late night
 

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