Building a Bog garden

If you have a pond in your garden, then a bog garden by it’s side adds another new and very useful dimension to the plants which you can grow.

A bog garden, once built, takes very little maintenance as most weeds will not grow well in the wet conditions. You do, however, need to be careful of the plants which you choose to grow as many are quite rampant and will take over the area very quickly, choking out other, more tender plants.

Building a bog garden is not difficult. It does not need a pond next to it as they do not share water, a pond as a neighbour just looks more natural and provides somewhere for any excess water.

Having decided on the size, shape and placing of your bog garden, the first thing to do is to dig a hole. This needs to be at least a foot deep. Then you line it with a plastic sheet. Make a few drainage holes in the plastic. You want the area to be very damp but not swampy. Then back fill it with soil. Any soil will do, although heavier soil such as the clay mixes are better. However I had a bog garden with rich loam in it and it worked well enough. If you are building your bog garden adjoining your pond, make sure the bog is higher than the water level to the pond. Again you want damp, not swamp.

The choice of plants for your bog garden is a very personal one. There are a great number of bog plants available, you will find the choice is greater in a shop which specialises in pond plants. Make sure that you are getting bog plants and not pond marginals. Pond marginal plants like their roots in shallow water whilst bog plants want their roots in wet soil.

Once you have built and planted your bog garden, there is very little else to do except sit back and enjoy. You may, from time to time want to cut back any plants which become to rampant and tidy any dead plant material. Also, if the weather is particularly dry, you may need to add water to keep the soil boggy. Then just enjoy, not just the plants but also the wild life which will also enjoy your bog garden.

Plants for your garden pond

The plants which you grow in and around your garden pond really rely upon your personal taste. That said, there are a few things you should know about water plants.

There are four types of pond plants, those which live on the surface (floating plants), deep-water plants, marginal plants and submerged oxygenators.

First, ponds need oxygen, particularly if you are keeping fish. So you need to have oxygenating plants. These are available from almost any retail outlet selling plants. They are not particularly decorative and live in the bottom of your pond, but they are necessary for a healthy pond. Do not buy too many, they will grow quite readily.

Deep water aquatic plants are those which root at the bottom of the pond but have leaves which float on the top. Water Lilies come into this category. These plants are not just highly decorative but they also are very useful in reducing the growth of algae which is what turns the water green in your pond. Algae live on mineral salts and sunlight so the more cover you have on the surface of the pond, the better. There are other plants which perform this function equally well, Water xcrowsfoot (Rununculus) looks attractive as well.

Floating plants also reduce the amount of sunlight which reaches the surface of the water. Some of these are not totally frost hardy, so you need to be aware of what you are getting. The most notable plants in this group are water hyacinth and water chestnut, though there are others.

The last group of plants, marginals, are the largest. These are plants which like their roots in shallow-ish water and their stems, leaves and flowers above water. This also covers those which like to grow in marshy soil (mud). There are so many that the mind boggles. You just choose the ones that appeal to you most.

One other thing, when you put water plants in pots,  you should not use ordinary garden soil or compost. This is too rich in minerals and will encourage the algae to grow. You can get special compost which has been depleted of minerals to do the job. You also need to use baskets rather than pots to plant in, so that the water can easily get to the roots of your plants.

Having buried your plant in its pot, put a layer of gravel on the top, this will help to stop the soil from washing away and protect the roots from foraging fish.