Creating an Irrigation Pond

by Rachel Laurendeau on August 31, 2012

Natural or man-made ponds can make garden and lawn irrigation more convenient and offer a more abundant water source. After a summer like the one we are having, where many parts of the country have experienced severe drought, you may be thinking about using an irrigation pond for your home vegetable garden or small-scale farm. Creating an irrigation pond is particularly useful and possible if you live on an acreage and have quite a lot of watering to do.

Permits and regulations
You can use a natural pond or you can create one yourself, as long as your local land use regulations permit it. Before you start on this home improvement project, it is best to consult your local agricultural extension service and get the go-ahead.

Benefits of natural pond water
Natural pond water contains dissolved nutrients that have leached naturally from the soil. Because of this, it will provide more nutrients to your garden than spring, creek or well water when used for irrigation.

Pond placement
If no natural pond exists on your property, you will need to create one. Ideally, a pond would make the best of the natural topography and be placed on a slope or in a gulley; somewhere where it can catch water as it runs down a slope or from an existing spring. If there is no slope on your property than this is a moot point. Although it seems logical for a pond to be uphill from the area to be irrigated, you actually have a greater chance of catching natural water flow if it is built into a natural depression.

Another consideration for placement is the soil type around your property. A clay or dense silt soil will hold water better than loose loam. If your perfect location doesn’t have the right soil conditions, consider putting a layer of clay at the bottom of your pond to seal it and prevent water loss.

Pumping your water
Consult an irrigation expert or water pump specialist to discuss the amount of water you require, the capacity of your pond and the type of pump and irrigation system that you will need. Unless you are solely relying on a gravitation-fed irrigation system, you will need to install an irrigation water pump.

Regular maintenance checks to your irrigation pump along with maintaining your pond and keeping the algae population under control are the best way to ensure good quality water for your crops and proper functioning of your system so that water pump replacement is not a regular occurrence.

Using a water catchment system that relies on rainwater and natural surface water may not protect you in seasons of extreme drought but it will, at the very least, reduce your reliance on well water and the water table. In the long run, a well-designed and maintained pond irrigation system can provide more water and be more efficient than other systems.

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