Pond Construction

New pond with water works included.

Before starting construction, Mid-Michigan Ponds spends time listening and asking questions to understand what kind of pond our client wants.

We carefully examine the proposed location and often perform soil borings to determine whether the location is suitable for the type of pond desired.

We then design and construct a pond with slopes, depth and other structures that meet the client's objectives. Features that help keep the pond healthy, clean, and reduce maintenance are incorporated into every design

Pond Design

A properly designed and constructed pond will reduce the amount of time and money spent on pond maintenance.

Proper design includes features such as bank slopes and depths that only allow weeds to grow in desirable areas that provide quality habitat for fish. It may include redirecting harmful surface runoff or establishing shallow wetland areas that will help trap nutrients and sediments that would otherwise enter into the pond's ecosystem from a farm tile or other source of runoff.

Strategically located underwater features can dramatically improve fish habitat. In most ponds about 90% of the fish inhabit only 10% of the water. That means almost 90% of the pond's potential is not realized. At Mid-Michigan Ponds we design and construct ponds so that fish can utilize as much of the pond as possible. If you already have a pond, there are many simple ways to improve the fish habitat. Give us a call!

What are some important aspects to consider before constructing a pond?

Mid-Michigan Ponds has been building, restoring and managing ponds in Michigan for over 18 years. We are one of the largest pond construction companies in our state.  Our staff includes 2 fisheries biologists, a plant scientist, and several experienced heavy equipment operators. Our success is not based on how many ponds we can dig in a year, but rather on building quality ponds that are designed with sound biological principals that promote sustainable aquatic ecosystems that naturally have better water quality and ideal habitat for fish. This holistic approach to pond construction does not stop at the water’s edge, but also includes managing the soil that comes from the pond to create natural looking landscape settings around the pond giving the appearance that the pond was built by nature.

We have a large inventory of heavy equipment specifically selected to build ponds in a variety of settings and to ensure that your project gets done right the first time.  We have a specialized soil boring machine called a Geoprobe that helps determine the right location for a pond.  Our Cat 325 Long Reach Excavator has a 60 foot reach and is perfect for cleaning out existing ponds or building new ponds on unstable ground. The extra-long reach helps to ensure that proper depths and bank slopes are achieved, as designed. Our massive Cat 336 Excavator weighs in at 78,000 pounds and digs out 3.5 yards per scoop. This machine is the better choice for efficiently excavating a pond with stable hard ground. Its 38 foot reach still gives it plenty of extension for ensuring good depths.

Excavating a pond according to a well thought out design is very important to ensure it becomes a healthy aquatic ecosystem with a quality fishery.  At Mid-Michigan Ponds, it is also extremely important to us that the surrounding shoreline and final landscape looks as beautiful and natural as possible. We not only have a talent for this, but also the right equipment to make it happen. Nothing looks more unnatural than a finished pond with large mounds of dirt spread around the banks.  Mid-Michigan Ponds, has the means to move this dirt to more desirable fill areas on your property utilizing our Volvo A30E Off-road Dump Trucks. These 6 wheel drive machines are capable of hauling 30 tons of dirt (or whatever we can put in them!) through very challenging and difficult terrain. Once the dirt is dumped, our Cat D4 and D5 wide track bulldozers are the perfect machines for smoothing out the piles and blending them into the existing grades.

All this attention to detail, from the pond design to the natural and beautiful looking finished product, has given Mid-Michigan Ponds a reputation for being the best in the business.  Having a pond designed by an experienced fisheries biologist and carefully constructed with skilled operators is important to insure that the pond of your dreams doesn’t become the swamp of your nightmares!  At Mid-Michigan Ponds we pride ourselves in paying attention to EVERY detail of the construction process.  So, if you’re thinking of having a pond built, Mid-Michigan Ponds would like you to consider why we believe we are the best choice.  In the next several days, we will introduce you to some of the important aspects of having a pond built. We will share our knowledge and experience in these areas in hopes that you will see what sets us apart from our competition:

CHOOSING THE RIGHT POND LOCATION. One of the first and most important steps to building a pond is to determine a good location. The first questions to answer during this process are what type of soil conditions are at the proposed location, where is the water going to come from and will the pond stay full? Unless the landowner has extensive knowledge on the hydrogeology of their property, this answer usually requires some sort of soil boring investigation. Depending on the size of the project and the soil type, this can mean performing simple and inexpensive hand auguring for small projects or bringing out a geoprobe (soil boring/drill rig) for larger projects. Mini excavators or backhoes can be used for soil borings; however, they have a limited digging depth of approximately 9-12 feet, depending on the machine.  We have seen situations where the soil boring data from our Geoprobe may indicate 10-12 feet of dry sand followed by 10 feet or more of good clay. In this situation, we can consider building the pond by using the clay from the bottom to seal up the sandy sides of the pond. This clay layer at the bottom, and the opportunity it provided for building a pond might have been missed by someone using a backhoe or mini excavator to gather soil data. Good soil boring data will not only reveal the different types of soil below the ground, but also indicate if there is a shallow water table or “spring”. The data will also reveal how a source of ground water will affect the fill level of the pond. For example, the soil boring may go from ground level down to ten feet  and be all tight clay (clay is ideal for holding water). But then from 10 feet down to 15 feet the boring hits a saturated, wet sand layer indicating a shallow water table. A temporary test well (also known as a piezometer) should then be installed to see what the dynamics of this water table are. If the water in the piezometer comes up near ground level, this is a good sign that the water table will likely keep the pond full most of the year. We should note that even shallow water tables can fluctuate seasonally.     

If the water level in the piezometer stays several feet below the ground level, it will likely regulate the water level in the proposed pond to that same level. A pond in this situation will usually never stay full and likely require some type of liner. This is often the case when a contractor who has not collected any soil boring data, unexpectedly, hits a shallow water table while digging a pond. Many will just assume this is a spring that will keep the pond filled with groundwater (and it might), but in reality, they have no way of knowing how it will impact the pond’s water level and are keeping their fingers crossed!   

It is very important to know the site hydrogeology information before the actual pond digging commences. Knowing in advance, the challenges that may be associated with a location may result in looking at other locations on the property, or deciding not do the project at all. This knowledge can save the pond owner a lot of frustration and expense trying to fix a leaky pond, or finding out after the fact that they need to install an expensive liner. We frequently get called to come look at ponds that won’t fill up, and it’s often the result of the original contractor not properly investigating the sites soil conditions before they started digging.

PROVIDING A DETAILED DRAWING OF THE PROJECT. This drawing should measure the surface area of the pond and include contour lines that show how the banks will be sloped and how deep the pond will be. It should also show where on the property the material excavated from the pond (spoils) will be placed.

PROPERLY SLOPING BANKS. 3:1 slope is highly recommended. This means for every three feet you step into the pond, the water gets one foot deeper. This slope allows people to safely egress the pond, should they accidentally fall in. It also gets the pond deep fairly quickly to help minimize shallow water areas that encourage plant and algae growth. We run this 3:1 slope down to a depth of approximately 8 feet where the sunlight can no longer penetrate to the pond bottom. From there, we incorporate a variety of structures and slopes that lead down to the deep part of the pond.  Exceptions to this rule would be in beach areas where a 5:1 or 6:1 slope is more desirable. Others make the bank slopes around the entire pond too shallow (4:1 or 5:1). This common practice helps the contractor make more money from the job by reducing the amount of material they have to excavate and handle. The pond owner usually doesn’t notice anything until a couple years later when large mats of weeds and algae start to expand over much of the pond because it has too much shallow water.

EXCAVATING ADEQUATE DEEP WATER AREAS. We recommend that ponds have a depth of 14 to 15 feet. The size of this deep area should compose between a minimum of 5 to 10 percent of the ponds surface area. Others will promise a 14 foot depth, but they minimize the size of the deep area to only a few buckets then quickly slope the bottom up to a much shallower depth. These small deep holes provide very little benefit to the ponds ecosystem or health of the fishery. Some contractors do this to reduce the amount of material they have to dig which allows them to get done faster and make more profit.

CONFIRMING WATER LEVEL/ELEVATION. Confirm where the water level is designed to be and ask how it’s been determined it will get there. We survey and stake our elevations before digging. Test holes and or/geoprobing are tools utilized in determining if soils are adequate to hold water. Others will use the dirt from the pond to build up the height of the banks around the pond and measure the water depth from the top of the berm, having no clue if the water will ever get that high. We get several calls a year from people with a pond that never fills up or won’t stay full. Often times, it’s due to this type of poor workmanship or lack of planning and design. In some cases the pond was dug in a bad location that never had a chance of holding water.

DETERMINING QUANTITY OF SPOILS AND DEPOSITION SITE. We calculate, determine and specify deposition site for spoils taken from the pond. Often times spoils are naturally bermed along pond banks or utilized to fill in low depressions on the property.   Many times Others bid is cheaper, only to find out that it is because the dirt was going to be left in big piles around the pond or smoothed off into massive, unsightly “landscape berms” .  When confronted with the issue, the contractor will usually inform the new pond owner of extra cost necessary to handle the spoils again, or that owner will need to hire someone else for that part of the project.

      How long does it take to construct a pond?

      The answer depends mostly on how large the pond will be. For some ballpark estimates, please contact us for further information.

        How much does it cost to construct a pond?

        The costs depend on factors such as the area of the pond, the depth of the pond, access to the pond location, and many others. Please contact us to find out more information.