Who said that if you have a waterlogged garden, you cannot make the best out of it? You will be glad to hear that you can have any kind of garden you want and, depending on the type of soil, style, and design of your yard, you can create a healthy and beautiful garden. Therefore, if you have a soggy area in your backyard and you want to create a nice garden from scratch, you have the option of having a bog garden.
Regardless of your level of experience when it comes to gardening, you can opt for this kind of garden should you wish to and provided you have the necessary conditions to grow one.
Plus, learning how to create any gardening style is not impossible, given you have the right attitude of being committed to learning all the essential information. This being said, if you want to grow a bog garden but are unsure whether you are well-prepared, you can start by acquiring all the needed knowledge. Slowly but steadily, you will gather the information and tools that support you growing a bog garden.
Whether you already have a pond or not, you can still create a bog garden. However, a noteworthy mention would be that an existing pond can support the development of bog gardens, given that the area is already slow-draining and mainly moist – key attributes of such gardens, essential to create the appropriate habitat. But you shouldn’t feel discouraged if you don’t have a pond or you don’t have the necessary space for one. If a bog garden is what you want, you need to work towards creating the required habitat and environment for one.
Keep reading the following article to learn more about bog gardens and how to create the ideal environment for them. Growing a bog garden is not impossible; you can grow lush gardens and plant collections with dedication and knowledge. Let’s discover more together!
What Is a Bog Garden?
Bog gardens offer the ideal and perfect environment for plants that only thrive when planted in damp to wet conditions and in areas that are positioned in full sun or direct sunlight for a minimum of six hours.
Bog gardens are, by definition, places of slow-draining, damp or waterlogged soil that combine the wet with dry ecosystems. It isn’t the same thing as ponds, which are essentially natural pools filled with standing water.
Nevertheless, given that bog gardens are known for their waterlogged soil, you can easily grow one near a pond or as the extension of one if you have the necessary space for it in your back or front yard.
Many botanical specialists speak of bog gardens as the best transitional habitat. So, if you want to plant around your pond while supporting its natural environment, this gardening style is the way to go. What’s more, even if you don’t have a pond, a bog garden is an excellent alternative that can be much easier to create.
Bogland is a wildlife-loving environment, able to attract and create biodiversity. From frogs and toads, bees and butterflies to dragonflies, your bog garden will thrive with life. Not to mention that the type of plants that thrive in this type of moisture-loving habitat can make bog gardens look spectacular.
How To Start Planning and Creating Your Bog Garden?
Where do you start with planning to grow a bog garden? This is a common question, especially among amateur gardeners who may feel somewhat intimidated by the overwhelming information. However, this shouldn’t be the case, given that bog gardens are not too complicated to grow. The most crucial aspect to know and always take into consideration is that bog gardens require a slow-draining environment and waterlogged soil. Knowing this will help you choose suitable plants.
But to support and facilitate the entire process, making it easier for you to grow a bog garden, and to prevent any misunderstandings or misinformation from interfering, we have compiled a step-by-step guide. This way, you can start planning this project right away. The steps are as follows:
Step 1 – Choose a suitable spot away from overhanging to grow your bog garden. Larger sizes may be more challenging to maintain, so keeping it small or regular is best, especially if you are an amateur gardener.
Step 2 – Decide the size of your bog garden, taking into consideration the available space.
Step 3 – In the meantime, research the type of plants that can thrive in bog garden environments and align with your preferences.
Step 4 – When the spot and size are decided, it is necessary to dig a 12-inch (30 cm) hole, which you need to line with a butyl liner or polythene sheeting with drainage slits. Combine the excavated soil with organic material and replace it in the hole.
Step 5 – Now, it is of the utmost importance to water this soil thoroughly as bog gardens only thrive in waterlogged soils. In the beginning, when you need to establish your bog garden, it is recommended to let the soil settle for approximately seven days before you begin planting any of the chosen water-loving plants.
Step 6 – As soon as the soil has settled and established, you can now start planting and growing your bog garden with suitable plants of your choice.
You will create your much-awaited bog garden by following the instructions mentioned above. Indeed, once it is grown and established, you will need to tend to it and make sure it is watered frequently to maintain the area soggy and support the habitat of bog gardens.
Examples of Plants that Are Suitable for A Bog Garden
Bog gardens make for utterly spectacular flora, as moisture and water-loving plants can create a stunning lush aesthetic. Because the types and varieties of plants suitable for bog gardens come in a wide-ranging assortment of colourful styles and large sizes, you will manage to make a statement by growing such a garden full of personality.
In case you need some inspiration when it comes to choosing the water-loving flora for your bog garden, here are a few types of plants that could help you get started in this direction:
Iris Pseudacorus “Variegata”
With its bright yellow flowers and variegated foliage, iris pseudacorus “Variegata” is known to be a water flower, usually found near ponds. This makes it an excellent choice for your bog garden, planted together with other moisture-loving flora. Not to mention that it is effective in attracting wildlife, which is another characteristic of bog gardens. So, this yellow flower of Iris Pseudacorus planted in your bog garden is a head-turner, which will help you make a powerful statement.
This attractive water Iris pairs well with plants that have dark blue flowers such as Pickerelweed and Blue Irises.
It is important to mention that Irises are somewhat toxic to pets, but they are not life-threatening. So it’s best to plant them in locations where your pets won’t be tempted to munch on them.
Also known as the Japanese water iris, this attractive pond flower is known for its stunning blooms and green foliage with a silver tint. This type of iris is easy to grow and care for and it is a vigorous plant. It does best when planted in masses, especially if you want to achieve the ‘bouquet’ effect and if you have plenty of room for it to spread.
A popular cultivar of Iris laevigata, also known as “Snowdrift” produces the most amazing white blooms. Iris laevigata mainly grows by the side of lakes in Asia, so it is the type of flowering plant that requires damp, boggy, and moist soil, making it an ideal choice for your bog garden, but it is also a great addition to flower beds, borders, water gardens, city gardens, cottage gardens, and Japanese gardens.
Cornus alba “Sibirica”, also known as Tatarian Dogwood is a type of deciduous shrub from the Cornaceae family. Thanks to its deep red stems, which appear in winter, Cornus alba will pair nicely with evergreen shrubs or silver-tinted plants, like the aforementioned Iris laevigata. During summer, cornus alba will bloom small white flowers, brightening up your bog garden.
Cornus Alba is a fast-growing shrub that will reward you with its vividly-coloured red stems and delicate light-coloured berries. It is a fast-growing plant that thrives in partial shade and full shade and isn’t picky about its growing environment. It prefers nutrient-rich soil that is moist and well-draining but will also grow in poor soils, dry soils, and wet soils. Cornus alba isn’t just great for bog gardens but it also makes a nice addition to shrub borders and naturalistic plantings.
If you want to include a few exotic plants in your bog garden, you should consider growing daylilies. If you offer them the right environmental conditions, these amazing plants will reward you with their colourful trumpet-like flowers. An interesting fact about daylilies Hemerocallis is that the latter Greek word translates into “beautiful for one day”, representing the fact that this plant’s flower only stays in bloom for a day. But don’t worry, they are soon replaced by new flowers, just as colorful and majestic. You will be able to enjoy the daylilies’ beauty throughout the summer and well into autumn.
Daylilies are considered by many gardeners ‘the perfect ornamentals’ thanks to their adaptability to a wide range of environments. These versatile plants can tolerate droughts, extreme heat, and low temperatures and they are low-maintenance in all aspects. With numerous cultivars to choose from, Daylilies will transform your outdoor area into a lush garden. They make great additions to bog gardens, but you can also plant them in cottage gardens, shrub borders, edges, and you can even use them to hide less attractive corners of your garden. Read our complete guide to Daylilies to learn more about these easy-going ornamentals.
Commonly referred to as ‘Kingcup’ thanks to its cup-shaped golden flowers, Marsh Marigold is a perfect plant to grow in bog gardens, woodland gardens, marshes, meadows, and near ponds. Marsh Marigold is a wildlife-friendly plant that will attract beneficial insects and provide shelter for frogs.
Marsh Marigold is a spring-blooming plant that thrives in partial shade and full shade. It prefers moist to wet soil that is acidic (pH < 6.8) and it can grow from 20 cm (8 inches) to 60 cm (24 inches) tall. The blooms of Marsh Marigolds usually appear from April to Mid-June and they are showy, yellow, and clustered.
Also known as Globe Flower, Trollius is an ornamental perennial that produces spectacular blooms. Its yellow, upright flowers emerge in late spring to early summer and will add a nice splash of colour to your bog garden. Spectacular when planted in masses, Trollius thrives in damp environments such as bog gardens and near ponds.
The ideal growth conditions for Globe Flowers consist of humus-rich, consistently moist soil and partial shade. It can tolerate full sun as long as it gets plenty of moisture, but it doesn’t tolerate dry and hot summers. Trollius is a perfect addition to waterlogged gardens that is fairly pest and disease-resistant but you might want to look out for powdery mildew, which is a common enemy in moisture-rich environments.
If you are curious to learn more about growing and caring for these showy flowers, read our complete guide to Trollius.
Zantedeschia aethiopica, commonly known in the gardening world as Calla Lilies are stunning herbaceous and semi-perennial plants. Although they look delicate, Calla lilies are actually quite vigorous and low-maintenance.
The beautiful flowers of Calla Lilies have a trumpet-like shape and are probably the most sophisticated blooms that you can plant in a bog garden. Growing up to 60-90 cm (2-3 feet) tall, Calla Lilies look spectacular when planted in masses. Their environmental preferences make them perfect additions to bog gardens, but you can also plant them near ponds and streams, in beds and borders, and even in containers.
Another spectacular plant that will thrive in a bog garden is the astilbe, also known as False Goat’s Beard. With its fern-like foliage of shiny bright green and abundant feathery flowers of white, purple, and pink shades, this shade-loving plant grows best in moist environments. You can plant this marvelous plant next to others that share the exact maintenance requirements, like Coral Bells, Ostrich Fern, Primulas, or Brunneras. Just imagine how wonderful they would look together!
The blooms of Astilbes won’t just improve the aesthetic of your outdoor area but they will also attract beneficial pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Astilbes are among the friendliest garden companions out there, so you won’t have any trouble growing them even if you are a novice gardener. They can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. They thrive in full shade, partial shade, but can also grow in full sun. They are not big fans of dry and hot climates, but with a little bit of care, they can grow anywhere.
Our list wouldn’t be complete without Typha minima, commonly known as Dwarf Cattail. This alluring species of flowering herbs is considered a rare plant that grows natively in temperate regions. Thriving in marshes, flooded banks, near lakes and ponds, and even in swamps, Dwarf Cattail plants will grow healthy and happy without much effort on your part. As long as you provide them with plenty of moisture, lots of direct light, and muddy/boggy substrate, they will reward you with their unique foliage and flower stalks.
All the plants mentioned above will create a stunning bog garden. Whether you choose all of them or not, there is no denying that you have plenty of options to choose from, all of which can create a strong statement in any type of bog garden.
How To Maintain Your Bog Garden?
Finding a balance is a standard recommendation, regardless of the gardening style you choose to grow. But when it comes to bog gardens, it is vital to consider the plants’ heights and maintain a balance between vigorously large plants and shorter ones. While it is recommended to plant a combination between the two – in order to find the balance mentioned earlier – you might want to make sure you can take care of aggressively large plants such as gunnera or pendulous sedge, or if you think they are too much work, it’s best to avoid them altogether.
Another aspect worth mentioning regarding maintaining your bog garden is that different plants will grow and bloom in different seasons. Therefore, it is essential to be mindful of this fact if you want to create a bog garden you can enjoy throughout the year. Indeed, when you choose to plant flowers that bloom in different seasons, you must ensure their needs are met at all times.
Bog gardens require the use of waterlogged soils. Therefore, one aspect you should keep in mind when growing this type of garden is providing frequent watering. Plus, it would be best to use rainwater as much as possible, given that it contains nitrates which are highly beneficial for the healthy and lush development of foliage.
Other Things to Consider When Creating a Bog Garden
While a liner is an essential tool when creating a bog garden, it may not always be required. For example, if your back or front yard has a space that is naturally and intensely waterlogged, liners may not be necessary in this case. However, if you are unsure, it is recommended to ask a specialist who can inspect your garden’s situation. But whether you need to use a liner or not, drainage remains a requirement for bog gardens, as plants can be severely affected without it.
You may not be able to grow a bog garden in your yard, either because the environment is not suitable or the space is restricted. But don’t worry – if this is truly your wish, the good news is that you can create a planted bog garden version. By using a container, you can grow bog garden plants following the same principles. Compared to a traditional bog garden, however, your smaller planted version will need more frequent watering to prevent it from drying.
A practical tip not many people know that can be incredibly useful in helping you choose the right bog garden plants is that the Latin words “palustris” and “ulignosus” translate to “bog” and “marsh”. So, when you are ready to browse and decide on your favorite plants, it may help you look for these words. This way, you will know the respective plants are great for the type of environment bog gardens thrive in.
When growing a bog garden, you might be tempted to grow certain low-maintenance plants. However, some of these plants are invasive when provided with the perfect growing conditions. Skunk cabbage, giant butterbur, and giant rhubarb are two examples of invasive plants that can quickly take over your whole garden, especially when grown near ponds and in bog gardens.
Bog gardens may not be everyone’s first choice, especially when it comes to inexperienced gardeners. This may be because a bog garden requires moist and waterlogged soil in a two-foot hole. However, their lush aesthetic, given by spectacular flora, and powerful statement will make it worth your while.
Plus, it’s not even that difficult to create a bog garden, as you have already seen for yourself. Therefore, if you decide to grow your own bog garden, there is no denying that it will catch everyone’s attention. Not to mention that if you have enough space to fit a pond and you create this type of garden nearby, the two will complement each other perfectly.
Do you have a proper space for a bog garden available? Let us know in the comment section how your experience creating one has been and what your favourite bog plants are!