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Old 05-21-2015, 08:57 PM   #1
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Digging Hole for Pond in Backyard


I hope this is the right place to post this thread. I have a backyard that is about 18'x20'. I am looking to add a 7'x4' pond for goldfish or koi. The pond will be 2' deep across for roughly 40% of the bottom surface and 3' deep for the other 60% to allow the fish to winter over in Chicago. The pond will be more or less in the center of the yard. The pond will be lined with a pond liner. I figure I need to remove about three yards of soil. Still figuring out what to do with it.

There are no utility lines in the back yard. I know where the electrical feed is to the detached garage. I do not have any drainage issues. I have checked for permitting or code issues; there are none for the size and location. I have six foot fencing surrounding my backyard. It is locked at all times. Checked with homeowners insurance and there are no issues except that I may want to increase my liability.

1) Is there anything I need to consider before digging?
2) Is the best approach to digging the hole simply to start digging? It will be next to impossible to get an machinery into my yard due to the size and fence.
3) About how long should it take to dig the hole assuming its me and my wife?

Thanks in advance for any help.
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Old 05-21-2015, 09:09 PM   #2
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Regardless of how certain you are about the utilities, you absolutely need to call Dig Safe before you begin digging, they will mark out utilities. Digging three cubic yards of soil is hard work, if the soil is rocky at all it can be brutal. Maybe you can get a small machine in there to help.
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Old 05-21-2015, 09:15 PM   #3
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You can have that dug before lunch time.

I wouldn't dig before calling utility locate.
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Old 05-21-2015, 09:49 PM   #4
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Could you just spread the soil that you excavate out over the rest of your front and back yards? It would certainly be the use way to get rid of it. Also, do you have a way to handle runoff from the pond when you get a big rainfall? Sometimes that can cause problems if not handled correctly.
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Old 05-21-2015, 09:52 PM   #5
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You can have that dug before lunch time.

I wouldn't dig before calling utility locate.
Thanks. Will call tomorrow.
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Old 05-21-2015, 09:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
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Could you just spread the soil that you excavate out over the rest of your front and back yards? It would certainly be the use way to get rid of it. Also, do you have a way to handle runoff from the pond when you get a big rainfall? Sometimes that can cause problems if not handled correctly.
I plan to create a slope with the excess water sloped toward the side of yard and toward the alley.

I have new sod (last year) across front and back. Really don't want to lay soil on top of it. Can spread some on side of house but not much. May ask neighbors if they need any.
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Old 05-22-2015, 07:47 AM   #7
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I would hate to do it now at age 65 but in 1995 I hand dug our pond. To CYA do call the utility locate.

In recent years and even back then I have found that a small Mantis tiller does a great job of digging while leaving an undisturbed bottom layer.

You will need some of that dirt to level the low side of the pond and as mentioned the rest can be spread over the rest yard with minimal impact. Chance are good you will tromp to death any grass growing near the site.

The amount of time is going to depend on the soil quality. It's better to work four hours for 3 days then 8 hours one and 3 days in the bed.

You need a spade, round point and flat nose shovel and maybe a digging bar. An axe or mattock if you hit roots or stones.

If it is decent dirt I'm sure you can get rid of the excess with a free topsoil ad on Craigslist. People from there have hauled away tons of dirt, rock, brick, and stump grindings for me over the years.
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Old 05-22-2015, 12:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drelldrell View Post
I

3) About how long should it take to dig the hole assuming its me and my wife?

Thanks in advance for any help.
Depends a little on digging conditions and what kind of shape you are in....


From my experience....I would estimate maybe 2 to 3 days doing it yourself.... 2 to 3 weeks with your wife's help.

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Old 05-22-2015, 01:21 PM   #9
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If you have a gate you can get a mini excavator in there. No way would I dig it by hand but I hate digging in the dirt unless I'm running a machine.
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Old 05-22-2015, 01:24 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by MTN REMODEL LLC View Post
From my experience....I would estimate maybe 2 to 3 days doing it yourself.... 2 to 3 weeks with your wife's help.
Now that's funny right there.



I drive by signs all the time advertising "fill wanted." If you really don't want to spread out the dirt just put a sign saying "free dirt / free fill" or something. Someone will haul it off.
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Old 05-22-2015, 01:30 PM   #11
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Are you sure 3' deep is enough for the fish to overwinter in Chicago? A bunch of dead fish stink bad in the spring.
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Old 05-22-2015, 01:46 PM   #12
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Are you sure 3' deep is enough for the fish to overwinter in Chicago? A bunch of dead fish stink bad in the spring.

Maybe not. http://www.mpks.org/faq/ans269.shtml

It would be here but maybe not there.
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Old 05-22-2015, 02:05 PM   #13
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A what point in depth does it become a swimming hole rather than a koi hole and codes need to be adhered to. I'm sure codes will be involved at some point.
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Old 05-22-2015, 02:58 PM   #14
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A what point in depth does it become a swimming hole rather than a koi hole and codes need to be adhered to. I'm sure codes will be involved at some point.

I'm sure that varies by area. Around here anything over 2 feet deep needs to provide the same safety features as an in ground pool.
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Old 05-22-2015, 03:34 PM   #15
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You said you are going to slope towards an alley. Why don't you pull a section of fence and bring in an excavator from the alley ?
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