All You Need To Know On How To Make A Small Bog Garden

A bog garden is probably the best option for your outdoor space, especially if you have children. Just like a pond, it will attract birds and insects. Dragonflies will be attracted to the taller grasses, and bees and butterflies will fly around the flowers. 

A bog garden with different plants and boarded with stones.

There are many ways to transform your yard. For instance, you can make a garden mirror, or you can build a gazebo. If you are a gardener lover, then you are going to love this. You can make a bog garden. It will make a greater impact, plus, it’s very easy to make one. Hence, if you’re interested in this DIY project and you want to learn more, just keep reading. We are about to show you all you need to know how to make a small bog garden. Ready? Let’s find out!

What is a bog garden?

A bog garden, at first glance, might seem like a pond. However, they’re quite different. A garden pond is an area of standing water, while a bog is a patch of slow-draining, waterlogged soil. You can create one yourself, using pond liners and other materials to trap water, or it can be created naturally by exploiting existing poor drainage in a yard. Either way, a small amount of seepage must be allowed to prevent water from stagnating. For example, if you use a plant liner, you need to pierce it a few times. 

Usually, a bog garden consists of a shallow area next to a pond or other water feature, ensuring that there’s no water draining from a higher to a lower level. Typically, its minimum depth is 40-45cm, and good drainage can be achieved by layers of gravel placed over the liner. You can water the bog area using a perforated hose located below the surface. 

Why make a bog garden?

A bog garden is a great addition to your property. You can have one instead of a pond. But beyond the extra impact, your garden just needs one. Bog gardens create stepping stones and join dry areas with wet areas. They’re transitional habitats as they offer moisture conditions and are ideal for different plants to grow there, providing resources to various wildlife.

Which plants can I grow?

The best part of the bog garden is the plants that will grow there. Unlike pond plants, bog plants need soil with high nutrients containing a lot of organic matter. You need to be careful, though, what species you plant, as some may be aggressive or very large for your space, like pendulous sedge and gunnera.

A close up of a beautiful yellow orange iris flower

 Here’s a list of some great options when it comes to bog garden plants

  1. Yellow iris (Flag Iris)
  2. Purple loosestrife and meadowsweet
  3. Creeping jenny
  4. Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris)
  5. Primulas pulverulenta (Candelabra primula)
  6. Hostas
  7. Astilbes
  8. Ligularia przewalkii
  9. Giant rhubarb(gunnera)
  10. Lythrum

When and where to make a bog garden and which soil to use

The best time of year to make a bog garden is early spring to late summer when the roots have the time to get established. Make it in a pesky drained corner or a container. Or even better, fill an old and leaky pond

Bog gardens need permanently moist soil (not waterlogged). The ideal type of soil is clay, as it is naturally damp. However, if you have free-draining soil, it’s ok. You just need to use a liner and introduce topsoil.

How to make a bog garden from scratch

If your space is limited and there’s a pesky spot that keeps waterlogging, then a bog garden is the perfect option. You don’t need a lot of tools and materials to make one. Just a few and easy to find.

Needed materials:

  • A rope
  • Polythene sheeting
  • Butyl pond liner
  • Brick or stones
  • A garden fork
  • Layer of grit

A hole in the ground. Preparing the area to make a bog garden

Steps to follow:

  1. Use a rope to mark out the area you want to make your bog garden.
  2. Next, start digging. You need a hole 40-45cm deep. As you dig, put the excavated soil to one side.
  3. Once the hole is ready, line it with a butyl liner. Then using the garden fork, pierce it to create drainage holes. You have to make holes on the liner as you want an area of wet soil.
  4. After that, add a 3cm layer of grit (or else a 3cm layer of gravel) over the liner. Grit or gravel will keep the soil from blocking the drainage holes.
  5. You’re almost there! Place the soil back to the hole and trim back the liner.
  6. If the soil is poor in nutrients, add a small amount of old compost.
  7. Water the soil. If possible, use rainwater. If the only choice is tap water, then you have to let it sit for a few days.
  8. After a week, you can plant your wetland plants. 

And that’s all! Your bog garden is ready!

How to make a bog garden on the edge of a new pond

If you have enough space, you can make both a wildlife pond and a bog garden. If you want more details on making a pond, we got your back. Check our guide and get more ideas to build a small garden pond.

Small garden pond with stone shores and many decorative evergreens

Need materials:

  • A rope
  • Sand
  • Geotextile
  • Waterproof butyl liner
  • A layer of coarse grit
  • Rocks, stones and pebbles
  • Plastic mesh

Steps to follow:

  1. Mark the area where you want to make your water feature and excavate it. Leave a ridge of soil between the bog and the pond 7.5cm lower than the pond’s edge.
  2. Add sand and geotextile to line the pond first and after the bog.
  3. Place butyl liner over the entire spot, weighing down the edges, so they don’t move.
  4. Next, add a 5cm grit or gravel in the bog spot and partially fill it with the excavated soil.
  5. Now, you need to build a barrier of rocks or stones along the ridge.
  6. After that, place the plastic mesh along the back of the barrier on the bog garden side.
  7. Then, continue filling the bog with soil until it reaches the level of the surrounding area.
  8. If you like, place stones and pebbles on the edges of the liner.
  9. Finally, water the soil and allow it to settle for a few days before planting up your bog garden.

Maintaining your bog garden

  1. Plant different types of plants. Opt for short types like creeping jenny that can be used for ground cover and tall ones such as flag iris for perches.
  2. Choose a range of plants to have flowers all year-round.
  3. If you have a big bod garden, lay stepping stones. It would be much easier for you to get to the plants.
  4. Water your bog, especially during summer. These plants are large with big roots; hence they need a lot of water. But, always keep in mind the hosepipe bans.
  5. During winter, mulch the garden to increase the soil’s acidity.

A bog garden with plants

A bog garden is a brilliant and low-maintenance alternative to a pond. It’s a great way to use an empty spot in your backyard and boost the overall look of your property. Regardless of your climate, there will be a huge variety when it comes to choosing bog plants. Try to make one! We promise! You won’t regret it!

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