Help my pond will no longer hold water. I think is is time to re line? any ideas, cheap as I have low budget.

Nine years ago we dug up flower bed and relined with pond liner. I need to reline, however I have zero budget and no help. No man power, however I am willing to do the work. My plants are doing great! I have bamboo that is growing like crazy. I would love to hear the running water again
q help my pond will no longer hold water i think is is time to re line any ideas, outdoor living, ponds water features, This is how it used to look It is overgrown need to weed out restore my waterfall however whenever I fill up the pond it is empty the next day
This is how it used to look!!!! It is overgrown, need to weed out, restore my waterfall, however whenever I fill up the pond it is empty the next day!
  16 answers
  • What sort of liner is in it? If you turn off the waterfall and fill the pond, does the level still drop? If not, the leak is in the waterfall. I can't see it in the picture, but there's a good chance that the plants are clogging up the water's pathway back to the pond and water is escaping over the edge of the liner somewhere. If so, removing some of the plants and allowing the water to flow freely back to the pond from the waterfall should do the trick.
  • Matt, do you think the bamboo roots are agressive enough to grow through the liner?
  • If there's bamboo in the area, it can definitely go through the liner. The roots are as hard and sharp as deer horns. I have had bamboo grow into the pond liner and then back out and in and out like it was sewing itself into the liner. It's nasty stuff. I thought it was umbrella grass in the picture, but if it's bamboo, it might be time to get a new liner and get rid of the bamboo!
  • I don't see any bamboo in the photo. I have never had umbrella grass puncture a liner, but bamboo eats it for lunch.
    yeah I agree I see a ton of umbrella grass also known as to be called umbrella bamboo I've also seen it grow over the edge and pull the liner down Lagaree with Trey if it's blocking anywhere in the waterfall I bet you is coming outside
    I'm sorry I can't correct that word but it should be I bet you
  • The Pond Digger The Pond Digger on Sep 10, 2012
    I'm a Long Beach Boy Jurline. Born in Long Beach Memorial, busted my chin open skateboarding down Ximeno Ave TWICE and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School. Our base camp and headquarters is about an hour from you. Come see me at our Showroom in Yucaipa on a Saturday with photos of your pond from many different angles and I'll help your pond back on track!
  • Jurline R Jurline R on Sep 11, 2012
    Thanks for the answers, but I'm still hoping for more ideas.
  • I need to know 1)is the pond is leaking (without the pump on) 2) if the water goes down only when you turn on the pump 3) is there a stream or waterfall that the wter is pumped to 4) Did the pond ever hold water (did it always leak)
  • Just add water Just add water on Sep 11, 2012
    Pond Monster, I sometimes use words like that when I am chasing a leak in a pond : ) I see you were able to edit your comment, I liked it better the way you had it originally!
  • The primary function of any pond is to hold water. Leak checks are a vital part of any start up. For a still pond the obvious question is "Does it hold water?" If so then everything is set to go. If it doesn't, then it is a simple matter to allow the water level to stabilize and then inspect for damage at the stable water line wherever it may be. Lowering the pond level an inch or two below the stable water level will allow some additional space for inspection. Careful inspection is in order for all ponds. Inspect liners for deterioration from ultraviolet exposure or physical damage (IE: puncture holes from rocks, rodent damage, & low liner areas. Tubs and preforms should have no problems due to weather conditions, but may need some adjusting of level or backfill to support the container. Concrete ponds in freezing climates may have been subject to freeze damage or settling if not on a firm foundation. The key issue for many ponds is finding the exact leaking area. Whenever there is a system that moves water out of the basic container (IE: Waterfall & Stream) there is a risk of leakage. Often these leaks can be difficult to detect because of the nature of the pond, filter, stream or other feature. Ask: When was the leak first noticed? How often is water added? Is there an automatic fill device? Is there any damage or settling? Is animal damage a possibility? Children playing in the pond or stream, or well-meaning landscaping near the pond may result in leakage as well. Next, take a walk around the pond to look for any obvious wet areas, filled soil berms or retaining walls that may be subject to settling or movement. Gradually increase the detail of the inspection as obvious possibilities are ruled out. If the details of construction are known, the inspection of obvious possibilities can be ruled out. Then the inspection can focus on finding the leak. For ponds of unknown construction, the inspection may need to include some additional details about the pond to know exactly what to look for. Keep in mind that splash or evaporation should be less than five gallons per day for the average water feature of about 8 x 10 feet. This amount can be scaled for smaller or larger features. 1.) Bottom Leak - The first way to test for a leak is to turn off the waterfall system and check to see how far the water drops. If it drops all the way to the bottom of the pond, then we know for sure that the leak is on the bottom of the pond. This could be caused by a bottom drain or sharp rock edges. It would be suggested to place your fish in another place while checking this. 2.) Side Leak - If the system is off and the water level drops and seems to stay at a certain point, then there is a side leak. The best way to find a side leak is to wait until the water level stays at that certain point, fill the water garden up a 1/2" or so and go around the edges with a food grade dark colorant or a cap full of milk. By doing this you will be able to see where the dye travels out of the water garden. You may have to shift some rocks around in order to locate exactly where the leak is. A liner patch will easily fix these types of leaks. 3.) Waterfall/Stream Leak - If you turn off your waterfall/stream/pump system and the water level doesn't drop, then the leak is somewhere within that system. It could be water spilling over the edge of a stream instead of going back into the pond. The fittings on the waterfall or filter could be leaking. The Flex PVC or kink free tubing from the pump to the waterfall/filter could be leaking. If you think you have found a leak in the containment (pond), you can use a few drops of dairy products like cream or milk to confirm the leak. Place the small amount of dairy product in the water near the possible leak. The dairy product will form a cloud in the water in which you will be able to observe any current movement. If there is a hole in your liner, the cloud will be pulled towards and through the hole. If a leak is confirmed, then lower your water level and repair the leaking area. Repeat as necessary until you have found all of the leaks. (Yes, sometimes there can be many) You can also do this process with food coloring. TJB-INC prefers dairy products because the benificial bacteria in the pond will breakdown any organics left after the testing is done and will clean the dairy cloud from the water. Isolating the Water Garden systems (IE: Pond, Waterfall, Stream, or Plumbing) is the key to finding the leak point. If the leak appears when the pump is running, then turn off the pump to see if the containment (pond) leaks at all. Be sure to start with the pond filled to the overflow point. Even very small cracks or holes can leak substantial amounts of water. Allowing the pond to stand overnight will either identify or eliminate the basic containment (pond) as the leak point. Small leaks may take a long time to reach a stable level. To speed up the process, it may be helpful to pump out a few inches of water and then re-check for a constant water level. By lowering the level a few inches at a time, a relatively narrow band of pond containment can be isolated for inspection. If the basic containment (pond) is intact, the next step is to isolate any other system components to check for leaks. Piping and filters can be checked by filling the system and shutting off the pump with a check valve, gate valve, or pipe cap to prevent back flow and then watching that part of the system to see if the level drops. This operation can be done at the same time the basic containment (pond) is being checked. If there is a waterfall or stream, that part may best be examined with the system in operation. Installed liners make this process easier since any leakage will probably be at the edges. As needed, a hose or pipe can be placed in longer streams starting at the bottom to isolate portions of the stream to check for leaks. Concrete watercourses without liners underneath may be subject to leakage through cracks or settling of the stream bed. Once the leak is isolated, the correction is usually quite simple. If there is liner damage, a patch appropriate for the liner type will provide for a permanent repair. Component or piping leaks are usually a simple repair or pond edges are often a simple fill or restructure and replace any decorative stones or plants. Depending on the time of construction and the nature of the site, the first winter may have significant settling of berms and edges. These areas are the first place to look for leaks and often are the source. Edge leaks will generally leave evidence as wet spots along the edge. Dry days are the best for checking pond integrity. The obvious goal is to build ponds with no leaks from the start. By building a pond with a variety of "inspection points" around the edges, it can be very simple to check pond edges for adequate liner height. - Fold some liner under the edges to have some additional liner available if settling occurs or the owner desires some small modifications. Also check for liner folds that may allow for channeling of the water. TJB-INC has found this to be a major cause of pond leaks. Any folds should be perpendicular to the edge of the pond or steam. Folds at an angle may have a section that sags below the water level and produces a leak path. Also be sure than liner folds in the stream overlap downhill like roofing shingles to prevent channeling in the stream bed. For those involved with concrete construction, placing a rubber liner under the concrete structure will prevent leakage in the event of any cracks in the concrete shell. Even concrete with applied coatings can benefit from being installed over a liner. Any waterfall or stream should have a liner that overlaps the basic water containment (pond). If you determined that the leak is in the pond and you still can not locate the leak, there is one more test you can do. It is called "Reverse Leak Detection" and will only work with liner ponds. You will have to remove all the water in the containment (pond). Then uncover a small section of liner at the top edge of the containment (pond). Lift the liner away from the soil so you can place a hose down along the outside of the liner. Turn your hose on and pour some food coloring or dairy product down the alongside the hose. What you are going to do is to put colored water between the dirt and the liner. The bottom center of the liner should start to rise like an inflated ballon as the water level rises. Pay close attention and look for colored water leaking into the now dry containment (pond). Mark and repair any areas where colored water has come through the liner. Be careful not to allow the colored water (between the liner and the dirt) to rise above the top edge of the liner and spill into your dry containment (pond). You will not be able to find your leak(s) as easily. This "Reverse Leak Detection" can be done with or without rocks in the containment (pond). Sometimes, it just gets too fusterating to find the leaks and you just want to pack it in and give up. All is not lost. As long as the leak is a slow leak, you can add an automatic waterfill or just top off the water when the level gets low. For water gardens with fish, it is recommended to due a partial water exchange on a weekly basis. If you have a small leak, this will create your partial water exchange automatically saving you from having to pump out water each week. This is not called "giving up" but making lemonade out of lemons.
  • S. Roy S. Roy on May 18, 2015
    Oh have some fun ahead. That is papyrus in your pond. My hubby just spent two weeks and a lot of muscle cleaning it out of our pond. You will not believe the root mat that plant has. It also sucks up the water. One area on the end of the pond it HAD grown through the heavy liner! You will have to empty the pond to get it and its roots all cleaned out.If there is any growing around the pond get rid of it too as it will soon be in the pond. You have a job ahead of you, I wish you well.
  • Darrell Darrell on Jul 31, 2015
    Call some roofing companies and ask if they have any new or used left over rubber roofing material you can have free. It's very common in the NE states, not so much in SoCal... But free is free if you can find some.
  • Nicole Martin Nicole Martin on Sep 09, 2016
    Every one of the pictures is exceptionally charming and outstanding and I really like them mainly. For ponds my opinion is to utilize Pondpro2000 to give them watch over long term.
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