Grit Blogs > The Daily Commute

Pond Renovation Part 2: Removing Trees and Drain

By Hank Will, Editor-in-Chief

Tags: ponds, water, dams, excavators, farms,

Read part one of this pond renovation series here.

Read part three of this pond renovation series here. 

The dam for this pond needs renovation.

With the heavy machinery in place, it only took a few hours to pluck the 30-year-old hackberry, Osage orange and mulberry trees from the dam during the pond renovation. Jay, our excavator used his 3-in-1 bucket equipped track loader to grab the trees, wrench them from the ground and move them up the hill so I can saw fence posts and firewood from them. Meanwhile Jay’s partner, Ben, used the D-6 Caterpillar dozer to begin reshaping the dam and spillway, and to make a cut to help remove the corrugated drain pipe.

Water leaks around the drain pipe.

Look at that water flow. 

Inside the dam, this pipe is corroded away.

The first full day of pond renovation concluded with the vertical portion of the drain pipe still in place but all of the stumps and voids in the back side of the dam face removed, and the dam’s top re-contoured. Since removing the vertical portion of the drain was the riskiest part of this project, Jay and Ben felt it would be better to knock off early and start on it fresh the following day.

Removing trees is easy with a track loader.

On the second working day of renovating our pond, Jay used the track loader to remove all the water-saturated soil behind and below the rusted out drain. Jay then pulled the drain from the dam, while Ben pushed dry clay into the void. They both admitted that the process made them nervous, but they were careful and quick, and it worked … very little water was lost from our pond. The rest of the day was spent repacking dry clay into the void left by the rusted out corrugated drain pipe.

Reshaping the dam goes better with two machines.

All that’s left with this pond renovation now is to install the new overflow pipe and find enough clay to build up the dam’s height a few feet, reshape the overflow spillway to avoid soil erosion, and coat the entire earthworks with topsoil so that the grass seed I plant has a chance to take hold. Stay tuned, I will report on that tomorrow.

The 3 in 1 bucket works great for yanking tree roots out of the earth.

Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on .