By: Mike Gannon | Posted On: December 4th, 2009 | 8 Comments on A WORD ON POND EXCAVATION | In: KOI PONDS, NATURAL PONDS, POND DESIGN, WATER GARDENS

pond excavation

Pond digging! That seems to be what most call this activity. I call it pond excavation, and as a professional pond excavator that seems to sound so much better to me.

At some point every pond builder has heard, and will hear again, the suggestion from a potential customer, usually while in the negotiating process; “I friend of mine has a backhoe and they will dig the hole, can you do all the rest after them to cut costs a bit?

This approach can seem reasonable, but to a pond builder it is a challenge to really explain why it is in every way better to have a pond professional do what they do from beginning to end. Pond building should not be a shared project. When I hear this suggestion I already know that if someone else digs the hole, they are doing exactly that….diggin’ a hole. This in turn means when my phase of the project comes up I will have to do a whole lot of fixing problems with levels and depths, fixing problems with the shape, fixing problems with structural integrity, sometimes even re-filling areas; which in turn actually will drive up the costs of any project. Anybody can dig a hole, anybody with a backhoe can dig a hole quick and cheap, but not anybody can properly excavate a pond or water garden. So, why is this?

From the customer point of view it just makes plain economic sense on the surface of it, but dig a bit deeper, and the flaws of this thinking start to get uncovered. From the pond contractors point of view it can be looked at this way: probably the most important part of any pond installation project is the excavation. I prefer the term excavation to digging because digging conjures up an image of hapless, rushed, unsophisticated, removal of the material called dirt. Excavation however; entails something much more sophisticated. Excavation requires thought, planning, and strategy. Excavation allows for intelligent use of the material being removed. When excavating one will encounter vastly different layers of material which can be utilized later in the project, and not just removed wholesale. Most importantly the work of excavating is the beginning process of creating a unique, artistic, and beautiful water feature. Pond excavation is the time that depths, shapes, shelves, tunnels, caves, and planting areas are created. Excavation is when the final depth of the pond needs to be addressed and creating utility depressions for future cleanout pits, and planting pockets need to be made.

A good experienced pond builder wants their ponds to look good inside and outside; something the customer will appreciate more and more as they go and see others’ “dug out” ponds, as compared to their professionally excavated pond. The inside of a pond installation needs to look good, it needs to have style! The excavation process allow the pond contractor to be familiar with the lay of the land and make adjustments around the pond to deal with issues such as drainage, and to help take advantage of landscape subtleties to their best advantage when the final product is complete. During excavation filter systems are planned for and excavated for, streams and waterfalls and how they can flow and connect with the most natural results are prepared. The excavation process is so much more than just digging the hole; the pond excavation is the heart of the project and gives any good pond builder the opportunity to make the most beautiful water feature possible, rather than trying to make something out of someone else’s hole in the ground.

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In the old days of pond building which was almost exclusively DIY, the approach was: dig a hole, slap in a liner, fill with water, weigh down edge with rock, add plants. But, oh, how those days are gone! You now have access to talented, experienced, creative pond builders who will most likely surpass your expectations when building your water feature. Pond specialists who are efficient, well-organized, and passionate about what they do, and it is all they do! Take advantage of that, you as a customer have a valuable resource at hand that can greatly enhance not only the enjoyment of the pond structure, but your overall experience in pond keeping. Ponder that!!

Written by Mike Gannon

Mike Gannon

The LOVEYOURPOND Blog is written by Mike Gannon of Full Service Aquatics located in Summit, NJ. Mike is an award winning pond, water garden, and water feature builder. Always “In The Pursuit Of All Things Aquatic” Mike has been a lifelong hobbyist and providing professional services since 1995. Mike is the creator of The Pond Hunter video series seen on Youtube and has made several television appearances on Networks such as HGTV and the DIY Network. He also hosts the Pond Hunter Radio Broadcast, a show on everything aquatic, every other Wednesday at 8pm EST. You can see what else Mike is up to at the following sites:


    Comments Feed
  1. Mgannon Says:

    on August 30, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Thanks for sticking it out on the blog post! and thanks even more for the comment, I always appreciate feedback and hope to hear from you on future posts. All the best. Mike Gannon

  2. Jennifer Zuri Says:

    on October 12, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    I’ve “helped” dig a pond with a group of pros before and it’s tough work. Lots to keep in mind and I can honestly say I would always hire a professional to dig the pond. If you don’t get this first basic element right, nothing else falls properly into place. Great info, Mike!!

  3. Bill Renter Says:

    on October 13, 2012 at 12:15 am

    Thanks for the tips for pond digging. The shelves in the pond are so important to build the pond properly and structurally. Great advice Mike.

  4. Eric Triplett Says:

    on October 13, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. Readers should take these words to heart. Take it from me… The Pond Digger
    Way to lay it down Gannon!

  5. Paul H Says:

    on October 16, 2012 at 2:14 am

    Very nice post Mike. I have found a new respect for pond excavators! As a contractor, I too believe in a full package project from start to finish. It certainly delivers a more seamless and quality project when there is one chief in charge.

  6. Mgannon Says:

    on October 16, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Hey Paul, thanks for commenting! Yes, it is always better to allow an experienced pond installer handle a project from start to finish. “Too many cooks” can make a pond project more complicated and costly than need be! keep in touch. Mike

  7. Mgannon Says:

    on October 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Hey POND DIGGER! thanks for commenting! I am sure you have been in the exact situation described many times. I say let the diggers dig, ya dig. Mike

  8. Mgannon Says:

    on October 16, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Hey Bill! I know you’ve been there too trying to explain that an professional installer NOT excavating the pond is not a money or time saver, and often times just the opposite! Thanks for commenting, keep in touch. Mike

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