How to Build a Bog Garden

Building a bog garden is a great way to conserve water and add another element to your garden, another room, if you will. Gardens are made up of space or "rooms" usually. So if your pond is one room, your bog garden can be an adjoining one and can even look as if it is part of the pond.

A bog garden is one of many kinds of rain gardens.They are shallow ponds, often with natural bottoms that are located in a low part of the yard. If you do not have a low spot in your yard, you can easily have one just by using a shovel. If you are way above sea level, you can put a liner in a shallow hole you dig or you can trap water from the down spout and gutters of your house. Build an aqueduct to the shallow or low spot and you have a bog garden or rain garden.

Many water gardens are built with an associated bog area to allow plants that like wet feet but don't want to be submerged. The shallow part of the pond that we call the bog is often used as a filtering system for the pond. The pond water naturally flows through the bog garden and makes your pond water clean and clear. The roots and stalks of the bog plants act as a natural filtration system. They add oxygen and remove ammonia, just as deeper-set pond plants do. Any plant material that water flows through makes the water cleaner.

Bog gardens can exist independently of the pond or can be an integral part of it. I usually do not allow the bog that acts as a filter for the pond to be built with a natural bottom. It washes mud and runoff into the pond I have worked so hard to get higher than the surround area.

It can be done by walling off the bog part of the pond with a weir of some sort that will hold the soil in place. You can use rocks, layered on top of each other; which is probably the best and most attractive solution. Just make part of your pond about four feet deep, put your bog plants in heavy soil in that shallow part and you have a bog garden.

The water can move in and out and you have the finest filtration system known.

You can also have a bog garden far from your pond. Any low spot in your garden is a great place for a bog garden. Do you have places in your garden where nothing will grow? Perhaps it is a low spot and plants that like wet feet would be happy there. Try Louisiana Irises, Cyperus, Papyrus, cannas and dwarf papyrus there. You may find that you have a a brand new room in your garden that can be furnished with a whole new set of plants.

If you would like to have a rain and bog garden, you can excavate a few inches near your gutter downspouts. Doing that will trap rain and not allow excess rain to just run off your garden and into the storm drains. You will have used the rain, recycled it, purified it and kept it from the water-treatment plant.

You can move your bog garden farther from your downspouts by digging a 6" to 12" trench about 4" deep and filling it up with small pebbles. The water from the downspouts will then travel down your newly built French drain to your bog garden. What was a waste of water and an eyesore is now a beautiful feature of your garden.

As gardeners, we must not misuse or waste any water, but use what comes from the sky and recycle it. Why not start with a bog garden?

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