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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm starting to prep an area on a slope for a 20' x 20' duck pond. The actual surface area will be less, but the 45 mil Firestone EPDM liner I ordered is that size.

It is a pretty steep slope, in fact the entire chicken/duck run is on a hillside, so I figured I might as well install the pond up close to the fence towards the house so that the family can enjoy watching the ducks on the pond.

I have a little 1025R loader (and 260B that should finally show up at the dealer next week), as well as a large 5 series that I'm using for hauling up dirt from another part of my property.

Here's the first load before I dumped it:

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Here's the pile I pulling it from:

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So I have PLENTY. The only downside is that each round trip is about 15 minutes, so it will take a while to haul a lot of dirt up to the pond area.

Some additional shots after hauling up 5 loads:

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My plan is to more or less just keep hauling up dirt until the lower side is even with the upper side. I wasn't sure if I should attempt to dig out the center before starting to making the lower side nice and smooth. I also figured that I should probably drive the big tractor over the "half moon" I'm building on the lower side every 6" or so.

I don't really have any other implements for the small tractor, but I do have a 3 way hydraulic blade for a big tractor, but other than compressing the dirt as I build it up on the lower side, that tractor is really too large for the area I'm working in. I also have a 5' box blade and a in between sized tractor (see sig).

Any of you guys have any experience digging out for a pond on a hillside? And of not, just some general advice about my intended approach and what the best tools/implements to use that I have available?

Thanks!
 

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Maybe start digging out the low side and moving that to the high side and then see how much dirt you need to bring.
 

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I’m no expert, but I wouldn’t just dump the dirt smooth it out and create, essentially a dam on the lower side, line it and expect it to hold. Usually dirt is spread 2-3 thick and rolled to pack it, then repeat until the desired height is achieved. The dirt must be clean with no sticks that will rot out over time and allow water to leak out.

We have a pond on a creek in the backyard that was built by my FIL snd his neighbor 40 years ago. The main section is concrete. One side was filled by adding clean dirt 2-3 inches at a time and packed each fill while the other side was just dirt dumped in by the neighbor that was full of limb debris. He tried packing it, but it wasn’t as tightly packed as the other side. His side washed out the second year and it’s never been a pond since.

It’s something you want to research as a 20 x 20 pond 4’ deep is a lot of weight pushing on the lower side. Just my $0.02
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Appreciate the suggestions! Unfortunately renting a dump trailer is not an option. There is no way even my dually duramax 4x4 would be able to pull a trailer full of dirt up the old logging trail I have to travel to bring the dirt up the down by my river which is about a 70ft ft drop from the chicken run.

Good point about getting all the debris out of the dirt before I start to roll it. Also very good point about a 20x20x4 being a lot of weight to hold back. Maybe I should just dig the whole thing out instead if creating a dam on the lower side?

The pucker factor is also very high when bringing each load up as I have to drive sideway across a couple of steep hills to get there with the bucket just a few inches above the ground. The slightest dump on the high side on the rear tire, means I immediately have to drop the bucket. Both rears are loaded and I got dual weights on both as well. Was going to stop by the dealer in the morning so see if they have a large ballast box in stock. Filled with Portland Cement, that would give me about 2,400 lbs of ballast, which would help a lot.
 

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Appreciate the suggestions! Unfortunately renting a dump trailer is not an option. There is no way even my dually duramax 4x4 would be able to pull a trailer full of dirt up the old logging trail I have to travel to bring the dirt up the down by my river which is about a 70ft ft drop from the chicken run.

Good point about getting all the debris out of the dirt before I start to roll it. Also very good point about a 20x20x4 being a lot of weight to hold back. Maybe I should just dig the whole thing out instead if creating a dam on the lower side?

The pucker factor is also very high when bringing each load up as I have to drive sideway across a couple of steep hills to get there with the bucket just a few inches above the ground. The slightest dump on the high side on the rear tire, means I immediately have to drop the bucket. Both rears are loaded and I got dual weights on both as well. Was going to stop by the dealer in the morning so see if they have a large ballast box in stock. Filled with Portland Cement, that would give me about 2,400 lbs of ballast, which would help a lot.
All good thoughts. Especially the ballast! Rolling a tractor is the last thing you want to do. Maybe try and cut into the upper side of the slope you’re driving across to decrease the angle you’re driving across? You should be able to adjust one of the rear arms to lower one side of the box blade to do that. It may take a few passes, but it’s better than being tippy. Driving over one rock or limb could be enough to send it over.

Read through this thread. He was very lucky.

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
The logging trail is one thing, it is pretty level, just very steep. It is this last stretch up to the pond area that is tricky.

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There are stumps and roots on the high side in that turn that makes grading it a challenge. You can see where I added rocks on the low side track, but the angle is still not comfortable to say the least. 1st gear barely above idle and the bucket a few inches above the ground and adjusting it as I go. I have to back down the hill after dropping each load as going forward, even with an empty bucket, gets the rears very light.

The above pic is from when I cleared that hillside initially last winter, and was what a all kinds of scary as well. Now it looks like this:

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So I don't want to cut into it really except down at the bottom where the turn is since I'm slowly turning that whole hillside into a lawn, even though mowing it is tricky as well. Love the views, but them hills hills are something! Even if I get the large ballast box, I still have it on my to-do list to do something about that trail below the "lawn" area.
 
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It is this last stretch up to the pond area that is tricky.
Yeah, that’s pretty steep. I’m afraid if it were me, I’d have to abandon that idea even as good as it is or figure out a way to access it from the top side. Maybe drive straight up the hill to the right of your solar panels?

Just thinking of ways to keep you upright.
 

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I would say fix the road now, it's going to be tough to mow too, better to do it before the grass really gets established.

Other than using small lifts and compacting, your berm shouldn't be symmetrical when looking at a cross section. You should extend the berm downhill as much as possible as you taper it off, I would expect to have 2-3 times more dirt on the downhill side.
 

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OK Stop right there
Do not haul anymore dirt up the hill until you read what I have to say
I’m well versed in building ponds and the first thing you NEED to do is dig a key way for the birm you are trying to build to hold the water. Kind of like digging a footing for a wall. Same thing calls for a pond berm. If you don’t key that berm in you risk failure and water is the most abrasive and troublemaking surcharge you can put on dirt.

Here’s what you do.
In order to build up a retaining wall of dirt for your pond water you need to dig a level key way atleast 1.5 times as the width of your berm. Yes you should dig a ditch, 12” below the top of undisturbed native soils to achieve good retention.
Once you have that done, Start filling it with six to twelve inch lifts (layers) of clean structural fill with no organics in it. No topsoil! If you can’t rent or suite a compaction implement like a roller or plate compactor, your 5 series wheel rolling in six inch lifts only should do as long as theres optimal moisture in the soil. If it’s too dry you might need to apply water as you go. Keep at it until your up to the height achieved. The slopes on the sides should be at a 2:1 ratio (2 horizontal to 1 vertical) minimum. Wheel roll the crap out of it.
Start planting/seeding grass or other slope compatable plants and get them started. This will help battle erosion immensely.

So,
Key way is key
Compact clean dirt in lifts
Plant erosion controlling plants. Grass well seeded does just fine

Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I hear you, but the only real alternative is this:

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Blue dot is where the pond is. My driveway is paved and has cobble stone all along the edges, so I can't drive over them without causing damage. The angle is also very steep right next to the drive where the duck pond is going to be, so approaching from above, that last 10 feet, would be precarious to say the least.

Sat image showing the path I have to take currently with each bucket load:

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Too bad I can't drive straight up the hill, but it is so steep that one can barely walk the first 30 feet of it by foot...
 
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Just build a level haul road as you go. Remove it when your done. That’s the beauty of dirt. You can always reshape it. You’ll thank yourself for doing it and won’t mind the cleanup when you see how safe you made your project
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
@Kbar Really appreciate your suggestions. I'll take them to heart and do a lot more planning with regards to this project. The soil I'm hauling up is from a swampy area in my lower field. It is very dark and there is a natural spring there, it it great at topsoil but likely not ideal for this project. I'll see about getting some regular red Virginia clay like soil for this project.
 

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@Kbar Really appreciate your suggestions. I'll take them to heart and do a lot more planning with regards to this project. The soil I'm hauling up is from a swampy area in my lower field. It is very dark and there is a natural spring there, it it great at topsoil but likely not ideal for this project. I'll see about getting some regular red Virginia clay like soil for this project.
I got you covered brother. Feel free to bother me about anything.
I have gleaned invaluable knowledge on this site from members willing to freely help me on subjects I know nothing about. It’s staggering amount of know how is one of the things that makes GTT so special.
 

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If your access route is that steep you could do like the railroads do, lengthen your access to lessen the grade, or build a switchback access road .Also, before establishing a lawn on that slope it would be better to terrace it, easier to mow.
 

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OK Stop right there
Do not haul anymore dirt up the hill until you read what I have to say
I’m well versed in building ponds and the first thing you NEED to do is dig a key way for the birm you are trying to build to hold the water. Kind of like digging a footing for a wall. Same thing calls for a pond berm. If you don’t key that berm in you risk failure and water is the most abrasive and troublemaking surcharge you can put on dirt.

Here’s what you do.
In order to build up a retaining wall of dirt for your pond water you need to dig a level key way atleast 1.5 times as the width of your berm. Yes you should dig a ditch, 12” below the top of undisturbed native soils to achieve good retention.
Once you have that done, Start filling it with six to twelve inch lifts (layers) of clean structural fill with no organics in it. No topsoil! If you can’t rent or suite a compaction implement like a roller or plate compactor, your 5 series wheel rolling in six inch lifts only should do as long as theres optimal moisture in the soil. If it’s too dry you might need to apply water as you go. Keep at it until your up to the height achieved. The slopes on the sides should be at a 2:1 ratio (2 horizontal to 1 vertical) minimum. Wheel roll the crap out of it.
Start planting/seeding grass or other slope compatable plants and get them started. This will help battle erosion immensely.

So,
Key way is key
Compact clean dirt in lifts
Plant erosion controlling plants. Grass well seeded does just fine

Good luck
Im asking as a ex commercial industrial contractor not a pond builder......i 100% understand the key way and structural fill and compaction your describing ......

but from what i understand he is using a pond liner....which should control the water (i think)....so i envision he just needs enough dirt to support the liner....and not liquefy to mud and run down the hill during a rain event....and hold the water weight......so does he still need the keyway? ......i ask because for years we have built water retention ponds from junk soils from the sites ( i know you understand what i am talking about) .....appreciate your feed back (and respect your opinion) ...i also understand his situation is challenging due to the side-hill location...very much like building a dirt retaining wall
 

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Im asking as a ex commercial industrial contractor not a pond builder......i 100% understand the key way and structural fill and compaction your describing ......

but from what i understand he is using a pond liner....which should control the water (i think)....so i envision he just needs enough dirt to support the liner....and not liquefy to mud and run down the hill during a rain event....and hold the water weight......so does he still need the keyway? ......i ask because for years we have built water retention ponds from junk soils from the sites ( i know you understand what i am talking about) .....appreciate your feed back (and respect your opinion) ...i also understand his situation is challenging due to the side-hill location...very much like building a dirt retaining wall
And I appreciate the approach you just stated. I have been in the wet pacific NW too long and have had too many short cuts fail because of the sheer amount of rainfall we get here. So when I see someone doing this, all I see is it washing away. Being in dryer climes it’s probably very doable as long as the material is given ample time to set up and is conditioned correctly. Heck. It’s only a chicken pond. And he’s lining it. I apologize for overwhelming anyone. Just sharing my take on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Really appreciate the discussion. I did read the pdf you linked to and totally see what they are getting at and having that toe-of-key thrust line makes a lot of sense. This is just a duck pond and should it fail, worst case is a few thousand gallons of water will wash down the slope towards my open lower field where there are no structures of any kind. But I'll still see about cutting into the undisturbed native soil roughly where I anticipate the thrust line to be, if it does not prove to be too challenging or time consuming.

I'm located in Central Virginia and while we do see heavy rain on occasion, it very rarely goes on for hours, let alone days, at a time. Now back in 69, Hurricane Camille came through Nelson County where I live and we got 25 inches of rain in about 5 hours.
 

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And I appreciate the approach you just stated. I have been in the wet pacific NW too long and have had too many short cuts fail because of the sheer amount of rainfall we get here. So when I see someone doing this, all I see is it washing away. Being in dryer climes it’s probably very doable as long as the material is given ample time to set up and is conditioned correctly. Heck. It’s only a chicken pond. And he’s lining it. I apologize for overwhelming anyone. Just sharing my take on it.
LOL.......were all bouncing this stuff off each other using our experiences and expertise .....dont minimize your advice as it was correct ......we both know its all about soil types compaction...loads...and angles....all the pond liner does is help control moisture in the dam ....he still has to keep a pile of dirt on a hillside in a rainstorm.....and mow it?........
 
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