Live soil flood and drain system?

I had an idea for when i move into my new house, and wanted to brainstorm with you guys on the idea, and see if we could come up with an idea that would work, I want to build basically a massive live soil flood and drain type deal around a small pond, so the water from the pond would drain into the soil in various spots, then back into the pond, but i assume theres no real great way to get the soil to drain well enough to achieve this without causing over watering and an insanely muddy pond? What if the pond had an auto top off and water just fed into pipes that slowly released water into the soil with a nice drainage layer underneath, that then drained off to somewhere else? Do you think id then need to worry about over feeding, with the live soil, plus nutrients from the fish in the pond? I really like the idea and thought about doing it with clay pellets at first, but i dont really like the look of them in a net pot in my indoor tent, i dont think i could get behind filling a portion of my yard with them… i want something functional, but also visually pleasing


A diy flood and drain table. You could set up a platform just high enough to get a gravity drain back to the pond. A pump will be needed to flood the platform/table :metal:

So along with @OGIncognito s flood and drain table fill the table with volcanic rock like is used in BBQs that will look more natural than the clay pellets. If you have living soil that drains back into your pond the nutrients will flush into the pond probably making the water resemble tea or starting an algae bloom potentially killing your plants. If you really want living soil you can put it in fabric pots that stay on top of the rocks. This “dual root zone” drz will allow your plants access to living soil as long as there is not so much rain as to wash nutrients back into your pond.

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I was thinking more something that surrounded the 3 sides of the pond at pond level, kind of building it all into the landscape, i could do a flood and drain table no doubt, but id like to figure out how to build something that looks atleast semi natural

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So what im thinking is having the pond be a seperate thing and having run off nutrient enriched water drain to a seperate smaller pond with a powerful filter or something, then once the water has been run through the filter, theoretically i think itd be able to be used again as the top off for the main pond, the dual root zone isnt a bad idea at all though, i enjoy making things more complicated than they need to be sometimes :rofl:

So essentially a large inground flood and drain table with extra steps

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You can probably use some of the “weed barrier cloth” to hold the sand from your filter back from your second pond. Just make sure you plant something like cattail on your filter to use those nutrients before pumping the water back in the top otherwise they will build up with each cycle.

Itll definitely be a build, and i have too much anxiety to build something like that and use it with out safetly measures in place, the cattail is an amazing idea, ill have to see if i can find some inline TDS meters or something, someone really need to figure out making TDS and PH meters that can stay in the water constantly and will alert you with a text if numbers are out of whack. Would make this build a breeze then lol

Does it need to be soil? Why not another medium like clay pebbles.

It will be in my yard, and i just dont like how the clay pebbles look, id use them for a drainage layer, but i want something that looks more natural, something i can work into the landscape

This is clay pebbles.
A flood and drain system usually involves several flood and drain cycles per day and plants in soil will not do well like that. Plants in soil need the soil to get pretty dry before the next flood. In a flood and drain system with clay pebbles the drain cycle pulls oxygen to the roots as the level drops while keeping the roots in the dark.
Hope this helps the clay is reusable forever but holds no nutrients. The plants only get what u feed them like coco except coco requires additional cal mag. Also coco or clay require a lower ph than soil

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I use clay pebble in my indoor grow tent, im familiar with it, if i cant figure out something more natural looking that would work well then that would be the medium of choice going forward, however, if i can figure out something that would look better and still function well then id like to do that, i am okay with trial and error until i get it right, also with that being said, this isnt necessarily going to be a traditional flood and drain system by any means, just something to challenge myself, my vision is something more like an aquaponic, flood and drain, live soil hybrid, what if i built it with 75% clay pebbles and 25% live soil? So the soil was pretty much just a top layer to hide the clay pebbles from sight? Then had it flood just to the top of the clay pebbles so the soil is getting some water, but not so much that it drowns the plants?

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Ok I can see this DRZ working. You’d basically need to make your own “fabric pots” but yeah you got this.

This is a picture of a DRZ pot I made for myself before I realized that plants will punch through Pot for Pot and any other fabric pots if they want to. But basically I took a piece of polyester batting (often also used in fish tank filters) and attached felt to the top to make the pot.
The batting will keep the soil out of the flood and drain and the sides just need to be tall enough to keep living soil from eroding off the ends then flowing into the grow medium. I think 6 in. Would be enough, Without Towering over the surrounding dirt.

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Im excited to see what you end up doing,

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It will be awhile still, im still not yet even in the market for my new house, but saving up and looking, just making ideas for the future, but when i do build it, i will update this post!