The process of adding slate to a backyard pond is not difficult. It’s also very cost-effective and will help your pond maintain water quality for years to come.
There are many benefits you can reap by using this natural material in or around your pond, but it’s important to know what they are before making the decision. Let me be perfectly clear: if you want to use slate as an alternative to other more expensive building materials around your backyard ponds, then go right ahead. But if you want some ideas on how best to do so, keep reading!
Slate Rocks in Your Pond
Ponds are home to a wide variety of living organisms, including plants and tiny aquatic animals. The same goes for ponds that contain slate. As anyone who has spent time around trees knows, fallen leaves tend to create small patches of soil between the rocks. This same process will occur in your pond when you place slate in or around it.
What are the benefits of this?
First off, your aquatic plants will have a better chance of survival due to the increased amount of soil available for them to grow in. Secondly, as I mentioned above, more soil means more aquatic animals. These little guys will not only eat algae and help with water circulation, but they will also contribute to the overall health and vitality of your pond.
This benefit alone should be enough for you to consider adding some slate around a new or existing pond in your backyard. But if that’s not enough, then take a look at these other benefits:
Durable – Slate is very hardy, so you don’t have to worry about it breaking down after a few years.
Non-decomposing – Organic matter from fish waste doesn’t decompose when living on top of slate, which means that your pond will be free of this material for longer periods of time than with other building materials like wood or bricks.
Less expensive – Slate is much more cost-effective than other building materials, which can save you both time and money.
For these reasons and many others, adding slate to your backyard pond is a great idea. However, make sure the rocks are not from a quarry. This type of slate is too small and will often break down in your pond within several months.
It’s also very important that the rocks you use around your pond are already weathered, as they will have fewer cracks that need to be filled before being put into place. Cracks in these rocks can provide places for unwanted plant or animal life to live.
Also make sure that the rocks you use have no sharp edges or corners, as these could injure anyone who gets too close to your pond throughout the course of a year. The rocks will have smooth edges after they are placed and become water-worn, so don’t worry about this point either.
Now that you know all the benefits of adding slate to your pond, you may want to consider building a small rock wall around the top of your waterfall or stream. Not only will this look attractive, but it can also help with water circulation and prevent fish from escaping by jumping out of their home.
How do I know what size rocks I need?
Measure the height and width of your waterfall or stream and then add a total of eight inches to each measurement. This is the approximate height that you should build your rock wall.
Also, consider the type of slate you choose. Some are flatter than others, so make sure that any stones you use will be able to stand upright on their own without support from other rocks.
Once you’ve added the eight inches to each measurement, divide that number by four and use it as a guide when choosing your stones.
Finally, make sure that your waterfall or stream will be able to accommodate the rocks you choose. If they are too large or awkwardly shaped, then they may not be able to fit where you have planned for them. Also, keep in mind that slate is heavy and can’t easily be moved once it has been placed unless a crane is used.
What tools should I use?
You’ll need a heavy-duty shovel, a pickaxe, and some gloves. Other than that, you’re good to go. Keep in mind that these items are very heavy and can cause injury if used improperly.
Also, make sure that your work area is clear of any obstacles (e.g. tree roots) that could potentially get in your way throughout the process.
What safety tips should I take into consideration?
Slate is very hard, so you don’t need to worry about it breaking when striking it with a pickaxe or shovel. However, taking these precautions can keep you from getting hurt during the course of your work:
Make sure you have a sturdy footing on dry land while chopping or drilling slate. Wet rocks can cause the ground to shift and create a very hazardous situation for yourself and anyone else around you.
Always wear gloves, as even small pieces of slate can be sharp enough to cut through a finger. This is especially important if you have a pet that may decide to come along and help you with your work.
Never leave the area where you are working unattended, especially if children or animals are around. Even though slate is sturdy, it can mean disaster for little ones who may decide to walk over any rocks they find in their way.
Slate rock is susceptible to very high temperatures, so make sure that nothing flammable is in the area. Wearing a respirator while you work can help to prevent inhalation of dust and dirt as well.
Although slate is a very strong material, it’s not resistant to all types of erosion. Make sure that wherever your pond or other water feature is located, there won’t be any high winds or other natural elements that could cause it to shift and crack.
Finally, remember not to take any shortcuts when building your rock wall. Slate can withstand a great deal of wear and tear, but if you choose the incorrect rocks or decide to rush the job, then you’ll find yourself with a wall that needs to be rebuilt.
What are the disadvantages of using slates in ponds?
Just as there are many advantages to using slate in ponds, there are also some disadvantages. Consider the following points before you make a final decision:
Slate is an extremely hard rock, so it’s difficult to break apart and drill through. Most people apply freeze spray or use an air chisel while working with slate, which can cause a great deal of noise and dust.
This type of rock is very heavy, so it’s not something that you’ll want to move around once it has been installed in your pond or stream. Although slate won’t shift easily once properly placed and secured, it can be hard to maneuver it through small spaces due to its weight.
Slate is known for becoming discolored over time due to elements such as rainfall, algae growth, temperature fluctuations, and other natural factors. To counteract this effect, try sealing the rocks with epoxy before installing them if possible.
If you decide to lay down a base beneath your slate wall (as opposed to just placing stones on dry land), then keep in mind that this can cause an area of very little visibility. If you like to go fishing, swimming, or boating near your pond or water feature, then this could be problematic for you.
What is the approximate cost and time frame it takes to install slates into a pond?
The cost of slate installation can vary greatly depending on the size, location, complexity of design, and the type of labor that’s involved. Slate can range in price from $3 to $9 per square foot for materials alone. Including expenses associated with labor and equipment rental for professionals or skilled do-it-yourselfers, the overall price will typically fall somewhere between $15 to $25 per square foot.
There are three different types of installations that you may wish to consider: Do it Yourself (DIY), Partner With A Contractor, and Hire A Professional. These options are put into place so that potential customers can choose a type of slate installation that best fits their needs & lifestyle.
Cost breakdown from DIY:
DIY involves only you and a friend for help. So, the cost involved to install slates in your pond is approximately $0-$150 (including slate materials). Sound too good to be true? Well, it’s not. Let us explain the details of DIY installation method.
Slate is often used as a landscaping product due to its contrasting colors & textures and unique design. It seems like everyone wants an alternative or natural addition to their garden decor.
Either way, we are just going to focus on using slate as a pond liner at this moment. For those who want to create something very unique and special in their backyard, they have two options: Slate installation or rock wall creation with real stones (no fake slates).
DIY installation is not only cost-effective but also a lot of fun. It’s time to get the whole family involved and work on this project together – as long as everyone takes precautions when handling heavy rocks.
Due to slate’s hardness, there are some safety concerns that you need to consider before starting out with DIY installation; especially for non-skilled workers who have never helped build anything like this before.
Slate rocks are extremely hard and not easy to break apart or drill through, so it requires special equipment such as freeze spray and air chisel which can cause a great deal of noise (similarly to jackhammering) & dust when used improperly by an inexperienced person. Or just use gloves if you are working on your own and safety is not an issue.
How long does slate last in the pond before they become water-worn?
After testing various types of slates for use in cascades, streambeds, and small waterfalls I’ve found that some slates are significantly more durable than others. Soil-rich clay-based rocks like Kimmeridge Clay have survived over 7 years under the pond without becoming rounded or worn by the action of water.
Ordinary limestone has survived well, but even stones from tumbled piles may not last as long because they have been subjected to abrasion and frost damage during their time on the ground – so it is worth checking each stone before you buy it. If buying rough slate take a few samples home to test them out, as soon as possible after you’ve bought them.
Can I Put Slate in My Pond?
Yes, you can. Slate is one of the most popular options used to line a waterfall or pond. Even though slates are normally used as outdoor decor items, some people use them for building their dream backyard water feature.
Despite the neutral color of slate – it goes with any type of landscape design and adds beauty to your property.
Some slates are more durable than others, limestone typically lasts well but is frost-damaged so have a close look before buying. Some slates can last for years and even decades under the pond but it depends on what environment has been available to them.
In this case, we are talking about an abandoned slate quarry at the bottom of a valley that is completely sheltered from the wind – so I’d expect most slates under that cascade to remain unchanged for many years more.