Hi Elizabeth! All of our growing ponds are built this way. We dig the
pond, line it (45 mil roofing liner), then put most of the soil back
into the liner, the soil is then topped with about 1 inch of play sand
from Home Depot. These ponds are stocked with goldfish and mosquito
fish (note: NO KOI) and the plants are planted directly into the soil.
We pull from these ponds weekly, disturbing the soil (Georgia clay) as
we pull the plants, there is no filtration on the ponds, and no pump.
The ponds stay clear, settling down to clear by the end of the day if we
have pulled from that pond. Between Monday and Friday of each week, we
are continuously pulling from or planting in these ponds, and the are
always clear for weekend tours. The ponds are dug at varying depths, so
that we can plant marginals (or lotus) on one shallow end and the deep
water lilies at the other.
When we receive 200+ lilies, there's no way we could pot them up, and
get 200 pots into a pond before the plants suffered damage, so this was
our solution. It takes us longer to tag each lily for variety than to
Even when the heron visited, the ponds weren't muddy, much to the
chagrin of the goldfish! I don't know that I would recommend this to a
typical pondkeeper for several reasons, but the primary one being the
heron sure enjoyed walking all around those ponds with great ease as he
had breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day
(http://www.theplantplace.com/greatblue.htm). If clarity is your only
issue, it works great in our growing ponds and the plants are healthy
and happy. I would not recommend sand only, tho, as there are no
nutrients available to the plants in sand.
The Dwarf Sagittaria (Sagittaria subulata or Sagittaria natans) creates
a beautiful lawn in the pond -- and sends up small white flowers to the
surface. It's very vigorous, sending of runners from the root AND new
plants from the flower stalk which bends back underwater and roots
itself. The flowers are a miniature version of the Arrowhead flower
(also a Sagittaria). BTW, my koi love to EAT the lawn, so it's not
suitable in a pond with them <g>. Another suggestion if you want a
bottom growing plant is Vallisneria americana -- this beautiful plant
grows up to 5 ft. deep and 3 ft. high. The Corkscrew Vallisneria is
especially pretty, with twisted curly leaves, but requires more shallow
water (about 2 ft. max).
The Plant Place
> Have any of you tried a layer of soil at the bottom of the pond? I am
> considering putting in 2-3 inches of soil and planting my lilies directly into
> the soil instead of having to look at the pots. Besides aesthetics, most of my
> tropical lilies were already dug out of their pots by the fish. The ones at the
> bottom did much better this winter than the ones in pots. My big dilemma is
> whether to use pure sand and prevent the risk of suspended solids, or garden
> soil which is free and readily available.
> I am in the midst of an unscientific test that is showing my soil to be >95%
> silt and less than 5% each sand and clay. Clay will provide nutrients (and bind
> phosphates) to the plants roots at the risk of muddying the water slightly. I
> can use aluminum sulfate I suppose to help with that. I could also put a layer
> of gravel over the soil to hold it down. I plan to plant Sagittaria subulata as
> a ground cover over the whole bottom. See pg 44 of 'The Pond Doctor' by Nash.
> That brings me to my second question. How far apart on center should I plant
> these in order to get complete coverage. I'm trying to figure out how many
> plants I will need. Anybody know of good prices on these plants. I'm guessing
> that I will need at least 200.
> Sorry for the long post, but you guys always help me think better. So am I
> crazy or not?