Ponds & Lakes

Have you ever dreamed of having your own fishing lake? Perhaps your farm or ranch needs a new livestock pond. Is your existing pond or lake leaking or drying up? These are all problems that we are here to solve.

Graham Land Service has you covered! We have been building ponds and lakes since 2010 so we know what it takes to build them properly. We will ensure it is able to hold and maintain water year-round, even in the tough Texas droughts. We have specialized equipment to get the job done right the first time.


Call Us Today (936) 203-6910

Request An Estimate

[wpforms id=”11″ title=”false” description=”false”]

The Art Of Pond Building

There is an art to building a pond properly to hold water year-round and withstand various other challenges a poorly built pond would face. Anyone can dig a hole and call it a pond, but this will not hold water during the hot dry Texas summer. We follow a step-by-step process to build a pond or lake that is a time-proven formula for success. Let us take you through the process of how we build a new pond from scratch.

First, we meet with the customer and discuss their wants and needs for the project, such as size, shape, depth, and what they will use it for. We determine the best location to dig the new body of water. A key factor is making sure it will catch rainfall and have enough run-off to fill it and keep it full when it rains. The side or bottom of a hill such as a low spot is always a great choice.

We can also build and dig ditches or berms to divert rainfall run-off to the pond or lake.

Building The Dam

A dam is a key component of the pond. Even in smaller bodies of water, it prevents water from flowing where it isn’t supposed to be, not to mention it is important in forming the shape of the pond.

We strip the area of topsoil to start forming a dam on the downhill side of the pond or lake. Once the main dam is formed, one of the biggest challenges in building a pond is using up all the topsoil so we get down to the clay dirt. In most cases, we usually dig around 4-6 ft deep before we get to good water-retaining clay, lighter or multi-color clay is best.

If you want to use the good topsoil for another project or for gardening, we can stockpile the topsoil on the property for future use. We can also spread it out over large areas in pastures or low spots that need an elevation boost. It can also be hauled away if you have no use for it.

There are specific aspects in the process of building a dam that need to be considered in this process. One thing we encounter often is a very high and steep sloped dam that is overgrown with trees and brush. This is something we work to avoid as if the dam is built too high and too steep it could be more difficult to maintain or mow safely.

We build our dams at a 2-1 slope so they can be safely maintained and mowed on a tractor. Additionally, we usually have a 10-12 ft wide flat spot across the top of the dam for vehicle access to a road to make sure every area of your land is still easily accessible.

Another challenge to consider when building a dam is how the surrounding trees will affect the dam. Trees and brush on a dam are not good for the pond. The root system goes through the dam and can cause the dam to leak. Another problem is that the trees take a lot of water from your pond themselves. This can make it difficult for your pond to retain water.

Once the dam is formed and all the topsoil is removed we install a keyway along the base of the dam. A keyway is basically a large trench usually 2-3 feet deep along the base of the dam that is filled and compacted with clay. The keyway keeps water from leaking underneath the dam. These are especially important on larger lakes where we excavate the lake to a very deep level.

How Deep Will Your Pond Be?

The depth of your pond is totally dependent on the length and width of the pond. We encounter many people wanting a ¼-½ acre pond that is 20 feet deep. Unfortunately, this is not possible because a pond that small with that intense depth won’t hold water. We need the proper type of clay to act as a liner to hold the water in.

When we build the pond, we excavate the clay and once the pond is at the desired depth, we use the clay to spread across the bottom of the pond in a 1-foot thick layer. We compact it with our heavy machinery to make the clay liner that will retain the water. We spend a lot of time compacting the clay liner with our sheep foot compactors, bulldozer, and skid steers.

This is a very important step to take to make sure the clay liner will stay in place and hold the water. If the clay liner is not firmly in place, your pond will be susceptible to leaks. This is another aspect of pond building to consider because if the sides are too steep, the clay liner will not compact to the sides and bottom of the pond.

Clay is a non-water permeable soil type which makes it an ideal liner for your pond. If your pond is too steep, our heavy machines needed for the compaction won’t be able to climb the side to seal your pond.

Appropriate pond depth depends on how wide and long the pond is. For example, a ¼-½ acre pond will need to be around 8-12 feet deep, while a 1-acre pond can be 12-20 feet deep.

Fish ponds in Texas vary in requirements depending on the type of fish you will have. You usually require 8-10 feet in depth for bass, crappie, and perch. As for catfish, it is better to have 10-14 feet in depth. We can also add fish habitat and strategic structure to your pond such as tree stumps turned upside down, brush piles, and more. These are always great spots to catch the fish and provide safety for the bait fish that is needed in the pond.

Overflows And Spillways

Once the above steps are complete we install and set up the overflow or spillway of the pond with a laser level. Overflows are important in setting the depth of the pond and ensuring that

once it fills, it won’t overfill and cause damage to the dam or flood out other areas.

Spillways are usually poured in concrete after a ditch is dug. A spillway can also be a large pipe or culvert that will let water out of the pond once it is full and is mainly used on larger lakes. Overflows are generally used on smaller ponds and are simply a ditch that is set to let the excess water run out when the pond is full.

Enjoy Your New Pond

After each of these steps is complete, you now have the making of a great pond to provide years of livestock use and great fun for fishing and swimming. We suggest you seed or hydro-mulch all the dam and dirt areas to keep erosion to a minimum.

Now all you have to do is wait for rain or turn on your pumps to fill your pond! Once the pond is full, it will generally go through a 30-90 day dirty water period. The sediment will generally settle to the bottom of the pond in that time frame, and depending on soil conditions, the water clarity will increase.

Once it is full and settled for a month or two, you are ready to fill it with fish or jump on in for some family fun in your beautiful pond.



Contact Us Today