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How to pack dirt on the dam.

Mike Schroer

Joined: Jun 12, 2013
Posts: 18
I am digging several ponds on my property and I am using a mini-excavator (9000 lbs) that I have purchased. The ponds are in heavy clay but also not far from bedrock. The property has many rock outcroppings going up the hill. I'm looking for suggestions on how to pack the dirt in the dams. I don't have access to a sheep foot roller. I have been using the tracks on the excavator and the wheels on my tractor. Sometimes the clay is too wet to pack and it just, squishes, rolls, and moves. I have had the excavator stuck more than once. While working a full time job it is difficult to catch the dirt in just the right shape to pack. I have been trying to work the ponds with my work schedule and the weather. Anybody have any tricks for packing the dirt?
allen lumley

Joined: Mar 16, 2012
Posts: 3871
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
Mike Schroer : Look for topics on using 'Pigs to seal the bottom of your Pond' here in Permies !

I use the search 'button' from the Permies Tools field above between 'the Permies Banner', and 'the Permies Video of the day'! Then I switch and do a googles search
within Permies ! - Don't know why it just seems to work best for ME ! ( You must be signed in !) G'luck ! -THINK LIKE FIRE, FLOW LIKE WATER ! PYRO AL !

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Daniel Bowman

Joined: Jan 24, 2013
Posts: 52
Location: Sandy Mush, NC
You don't really need to search for anything. The idea is simple: fence pigs into the pond, keep them there for a few weeks, feeding them and letting them wallow. It will seal the pond. But In my opinion this is extraneous advice for a dam construction. If you are building ponds on a slope and the dam is necessary to hold in the water (as opposed to excavating a pit on flat land) then I wouldn't trust the dam to some pigs. Also, not everyone wants to take on the chore of caring for pigs, or at least not in the pond site location.. so yeah, I am curious for advice on this as well. I wish there were more resources on DIY pond construction in situations where a dam is necessary.
Adam Klaus

Joined: Apr 16, 2013
Posts: 945
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
check out more info on dam construction than you can imagine. really nice folks too that are glad to help.

bottom line is large earthen dam construction really requires good heavy equipment, such as bulldozer, sheepsfoot roller, or track hoe. there are detailed techniques, such as keying in a dam core, and compacting the dam earth in small lifts. building a dam is not the place to skimp and go low-tech. much more expensive to fix than to do right the first time.

pigs are great for sealing the bottom of an excavated earthen pond, but I wouldnt think they would be adequate to seal a large, sloping dam. IMO not worth the risk of eventual seepage and dam failure.

good luck

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Devon Olsen

Joined: Nov 28, 2011
Posts: 1045
Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
thank you so much for that post, really going to be needing that resource soon for all the gritty (and apparantly mathmatic) details of building a dam at my gpas new property this summer

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Tim Malacarne

Joined: Feb 06, 2012
Posts: 225
Location: South central Illinois, USA

Day in, day out, rubber tires compact much more than a tracked vehicle, which is made to distribute the weight. That said, and as you've noted, the soil moisture has pretty well got to be in the workable range for what you want to do. If you can get that clay workable, that is, not too wet or too dry, it's gonna pack in there like nobody's business. Will save you the bother of pigs, this ain't Hollywood, they get out (escape) and tear stuff up. You don't want to have to put the pigs in there. If you gotta, you gotta, but I'd try to seal it myself first by using proper methods. As stated above, small layers rolled in with rubber tires at the proper moisture level will make it fine. Best of luck to you! TM
subject: How to pack dirt on the dam.