Is it feasible to hand-dig a swimming pond?greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
My original 5 acre lot contains a spring-fed pond which was dug by the previous owners. I later bought 10 adjoining acres and moved, renting out the old house and 5 acres, so we no longer have the use of the pond. Last year I looked into having a new pond dug out behind my house, and the estimates were staggering- $7000 to 12,000 to dig a pond that would be approx 30'x30'x 15'deep. I am wondering whether it would be feasible to just dig the thing by hand. When my nephews are here they entertain themselves by digging 5-6' deep holes out in the barnyard, so I figure if they channel some of their digging efforts towards a swimming pond, over the course of a summer they could probably have it done. Does this sound crazy? I realize that it would be a lot of work, but $7k is a lot of money! Actually, the biggest obstacle that I foresee is that there are half a dozen pine trees in the spot where we want the pond, and getting rid of the trees and roots is probably more work than the actual digging, since our soil is very sandy. Anyone have any other suggestions for how to get a cheap pond dug?
-- Elizabeth (email@example.com), March 09, 2002
yes it can be done,, but time and labor are the factors
-- Stan (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 09, 2002.
That is way too much money for the size pond you are thinking about.
I hired a guy with a bucket & crane to dig mine. He at first gave me an estimate of around $6-7000, but I told him I only had $4000 to spend. He agreed to dig me a $4000 hole, he was very pliable since it was his off-season (spring). It took him less than 2 days to dig my pond which ended up about 100x60' and about 9' at the deep end. I stayed at the site most of the time & urged him to dig out more here, more there, etc. so I did get my money's worth. He grumbled, but dug. Tell him he's doing a great job.
This also included some bulldozer work. I leveled the piles of dirt with my 8N tractor and blade. Took much longer to landscape than to dig it.
You might also check around to see if anyone owns a big dozer. They can also dig a hole in a hurry -- I had another one dug with one in about a day's time.
Check around, some people with heavy equipment might be hungry, and they will negotiate, especially in the spring.
-- bruce (email@example.com), March 09, 2002.
As some people on this forum know, I am a big admirer of Scott and Helen Nearing, the writers of, Living The Good Life. He bening and old man did some quite incredible things in the latter part of his lifetime. He was fifty when he started homesteading and built two homesteads in his life time. At one of them he hand dug a pond using just a shovel, pick and a wheelbarrow. I believe that if an old man such as Scott Nearing could achieve that feat single handedly, that anyone could do it.
-- http://communities.msn.com/livingoffthelandintheozarks (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 09, 2002.
or you could rent a backhoe. Something like a Case580c you could catch on pretty quick to.
-- Dave (email@example.com), March 09, 2002.
Lot's of work! We are currently in the process of filling our "cement pond" by hand. Have to do it that way because the area is screened in. Just to fill it in we have to wheelbarrow (guesstimate)9 truckloads of fill, 18cu yds per load. Even at $90 a load it's cheaper than upkeep for one year. We thought of turning into a tilapia pond but decided against.
-- Diana in FL (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 09, 2002.
What in the world are they doing for 7000-12000???????? I had my barn yard run off pit dug 30x30x15 (the same as yours) in rocky clay soil by a fellow with a JD690 excavator. $700@90 per hour!!!!!!! Canadian, that's around 500 bucksUS. He came back and bulldozed the fill and sloped my barnyards with the fill for another $800@50/hour. That nicely used up my Environmental Farm Plan (Ontario only) grant money. The only govt. grant money to come on the farm in 32 years BTW. Shop around, ask for an hourly rate not a project rate!!! Mine took just under 8 hours to dig and he had trouble with some rocks.
-- Ross (email@example.com), March 09, 2002.
I would find an old tractor with a front end loader and a box blade and use it. After you are done digging the pond you should be able to sell the tractor for what you paid for it or maybe a little more if you buy i right.
-- Mark in N.C. Fla. (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 09, 2002.
Hi Elizabeth! We(well...I, hubby had nothing to do with it..LOL) decided to have a pond dug on our property in '99. LIke you, we had a spring fed area and it is the lowest spot on the place so figured that would be the way to go. My project was for a duck pond with an island though not as deep as you are planning, but it amounts to the same thing. MOVING A LOT OF SOIL. One of the things I did not think of(and I spent a year of research on this)was where was all that soil going to go? At any rate this pond is wonderful, about 100 ft. long, between 40 and 50 feet wide but only 6 feet deep at the deepest spot and much of it is shallower(is that a word? )than that. The one thing I was impressed by was the expertise involved in digging this out. The gentleman( a neighbor who also put in a new septic tank when we bought the place in '92) is , of course an engineer. He brought over his laser systems and spent several hours checking out height of the island and of the banks of the pond, placing markers here and there and other mysterious things. LOL Then he went to work with a little DC-3( I think) Cat and a big thing that he dug the ditches with for the 2" PVC pipe so I could control the water flow coming in as well as going out. We wound up making a very nice berm with the soil and a bench sits up there now and it's planted with flowers and trees. This costs us $998 dollars. I would think a person could rent a little "cat" and whatever and do it yourself? Would that be feasable? Although I know by watching Tom that it involves more than just digging a hole and it takes a lot of physical labor too. Good luck, Little Quacker
-- Little Quacker (email@example.com), March 09, 2002.
Sounds nuts expensive to me. Around here in Northern NYS I can get an excavator in for $90 an hour, last I knew, and it wouldn't take a day to do that job. You could do it by hand, I suppose, but I wouldn't care to. Still, if it's free nephew labor you could try it. :)
-- Jennifer L. (Northern NYS) (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 09, 2002.
Here in N AL the charge is $75 an hour and a 30 ft diameter pond can be done in about five to seven hours easy.
-- Jay Blair in N. AL (email@example.com), March 09, 2002.
You can rent a frontend loader for about $250.00 per day delivered, and there are operators at the labor pool who cost about 10 to 12 per hour with their insurance and taxes included, fuel is about $15.00 per day.
-- mitch hearn (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 09, 2002.
Elizabeth, Your nephews sound like good guys to have around in a time like this! I would think that if you could get your nephews to dig with the prospect of actually making a swimming hole, they would dig like mad! And if they start getting tired of it, a little pay might spice the job up. Of course, it wouldnt be anything professional, but your nephews would have memories for a lifetime!
-- daffodyllady (email@example.com), March 09, 2002.
Boys digging holes tend to dig conical holes. The depth can look impressive, but the volume is only one third as great as if they'd dug it all out (a cylinder of the same depth). You can do things by hand, but it takes a L..O..N..G time. Do enough maths to figure out the cubic volume you're talking about, and then about how many shovel- loads that would be (you can approximate here - the sheer size of the numbers is probably going to be enough to kill the idea). Remember you can't just move the dirt - you've got to pick it up and carry it away.
Talk to your local extension officers, and they may refer you to soil and water conservation officers. You have paid these people with your taxes, advising you is their job, and they are experts. They can tell you what is practical, and what are reasonable prices. They may, for instance, advise you that bigger would be better - a lot of the cost is starting the job - doing a little more costs less once you've started. Also, the dirt has to go somewhere - if it can be used right next to where it came from, to build a downhill bank which increases the depth of your pond, then that's a good answer.
Also note that there are often subsidies for soil conservation work (and soil conservation - i.e. contour banks) often lead to building earth dams or ponds. Yes, you know and we know and they know that the dam/pond is the real aim, but if it's a way to get a subsidy to people who need a job done then everyone just pretends and the job gets done.
-- Don Armstrong (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 09, 2002.
Here a permit would be required before you start digging anyhow, might as well talk to the county.
While it is possible to dig by hand, I think you will end up with something the size of a plastic wading tub when the kids never show up again... That is a trememdous amount of dirt, and they will have to haul it away, not just throw it on the edge of the small hole.
-- paul (email@example.com), March 09, 2002.
since our soil is very sandy.
I think before I invested much in the way of time, money or labor I'd have a pro come out and evaluate your site. If your soil is really sandy you might not get it to hold water without some sort of liner.
-- Alan (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 09, 2002.
I have not seen the safety issue addresed. It is easy to dig a hole and have it cave in with loss of life.
When I put in 300 feet of water line 5 feet down, we had quite a few cave in and as I was in the trench laying the pipe, the backhoe guy kept his own shovel and had to dig me out once.
Kind of scary and something to think about.
-- Gary from Mn (h[email@example.com), March 09, 2002.
Elizabeth, why 15' deep? Even if you used a truck to haul the dirt away and it had a 10 yard box, that's 50 loads! Of course, you'd want sloping sides so the 500 yard total would not be entirely accurate. At only 30' wide, and 15' deep, if round, your pond would be a cone with 45 degree slope to the center. That's much too steep and even more than I'd want to take on with an end loader or Bobcat. Better off to go with 8' depth and double the surface area to at least 60x60, especially if you wanted aquatic vegetation to grow around the edges. Little vegetation such as cattails, etc., don't grow in water much over a foot deep. Your pond, to have the 30x30x15 would have a foot of water only a foot away from the shore. And if the pond was a leaker and you had to buy a liner thick enough so that a dog claws won't puncture it, you are talking more big bucks. Shallow that pond up 50% and reduce your costs by two- thirds!
-- Martin Longseth (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 10, 2002.
Some great points to think aobut, 15 feet is pretty deep, my pit has straight walls it would still be steep with a slope. Perhaps you could prearrange to sell the fill and they pay the trucking? Just a thought I needed my fill.
-- Ross (email@example.com), March 10, 2002.