how to build a bog garden???

ccoombs1(7B SC)April 2, 2007

I need some advise please. I want to create a bog garden. Here's the plan I have....will it work? The hole is about 18" deep. I am putting a soaker hose coiled up in the bottom. I'll top that with a few inches of pea gravel, then cover with landscape fabric. Then I'll fill the bog with peat. I'll have the soaker hose on a timer to run for 15 minutes each day, forcing new moisture up from the bottom and overflowing the extra water out of the yard. I plan to plant this bog with Sarracenia (pitcher plants) and other non-invasive plants. I don't want cattails or irises because I don't want roots clogging up the gravel in the bottom. Will this work OK? Any suggestions? thanks!


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Judy_B_ON(Ontario 5B)

You may be making it too complicated, likely don't need the gravel or landscape fabric.

What you do need is a plastic liner, or all the water will soak into the ground instead of the peat. Line the hole with the plastic liner sold for ponds or any plastic (old tablecloth, shower curtain etc). Punch a few holes in it along the sides. Many suggest mixing the peat with about 1/4 sand. Fill the hole, leaving a piece of 1 1/2" perforated plastic plumbing pipe upright in one corner (no peat inside it.

Wet the peat before it goes in the hole, and wet again once filled. You should notice water filling up the pipe as the peat becomes saturated. Now, check the pipe daily and when the water level lowers, water the bog. You may only need to add water once a week.

I built my bog close to the eaves downspout and rain barrel. The downspout fills the rain barrel and I connected the rain barrel overflow underground into the bog, so I seldom have to water it.

Search this forum for more tips.

Here is a link that might be useful: Build a bog

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 8:52PM
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ccoombs1(7B SC)

Thanks for that information and link. OK....plan has changed a bit. This hole already has a pond liner in it. I think what I'll do is punch a few holes in the bottom for drainage and put the soaker hose near the top instead. I'll still use a gravel bed (for drainage)and the landscape fabric (to keep the gravel bed from filling up with the soil) because I already have it. I set the stepping stones in the hole last night. they are concreted in and sitting on top of concrete blocks. this way I'll be able to easily access the center of the bog for planting and weeding.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 8:25AM
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sal_mando(z6a SW Ohio)

Some people suggest holding off on punching holes in the liner until you see how well your bog stays moist. And some punch the holes in the sides to keep the bottom wet but allow the top to drain. I have no holes.
Also, if you use a soaker hose, you want to make sure your water is not full of minerals.
Have fun with your bog!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 9:19AM
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ccoombs1(7B SC)

Thanks Bob.....good suggestions. I can always poke holes later on if they are needed. I may poke a couple in the lowest spots now and can add more if needed. My well water is very soft and acidic so there is no danger of mineral build-up.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 11:31AM
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gardenphotographer(Zone 5 WI)

Hi Cindy,

Here are some of my suggestions.

1. Pea Gravel = bad. Bogs are acidic. If the pea gravel is made from limestone or dolomite it may cause the water to turn alkaline. In my area, pea gravel, is usually from limestone. If your pea gravel is from washed beach stones, from say granite or volcanic rock, then it should not much effect the pH. But even if the gravel is neutral or acidic, there is no advantage to pea gravel or any other stone in a bog (from the perspective of the plant).

2. Fabric = bad. In nature, bogs are filled with sphagnum moss and lenses of sand. Some bogs have a profile of a hundred feet deep. The entire profile is sphagnum moss and sand. There is no running water in a gravel bed at the bottom. The top is live long fiber sphagnum moss, then decomposing dead moss, then crushed compacted moss (peat). Occassionally in the profile there are layers of sand.

So, from the viewpoint of the bog plants, you only need a pretty simple construction. I constructed a bog similar to what Judy described. I also avoided punching holes as recommended by Bob. My bog works great (but your zone is much much warmer then my area, some adjustment might be needed for your climate).

Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 10:15AM
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ccoombs1(7B SC)

Well, the bog is done. I already used the gravel (only about 2" deep) and the landscape fabric to keep the gravel from getting clogged up with the soil mix. The bog took 6 bales of peat and about an equal amount of sand to fill. It looks fantastic!! I ran the soaker hose for about an hour, and the bog appears to be evenly "boggy" all the way down. No standing water....just very damp all the way through. I planted my two lonely Sarracenia. They look fantastic in it. I can't wait to see it full of Sarracenia! I'm not too worried about the gravel making the bog to alkaline. My well water comes out of the ground at a pH of 5.5 to 6.0 with no measurable hardness at all. Great for acid loving plant, not so great for my koi pond though.

Thanks for all the suggestions. I will enjoy filling this bog!!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 4:58PM
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kwoods(Cold z7 Long Is)

Concrete and concrete blocks for stepping stones? You do know what concrete is made from? You have effectively limed your bog. Holes in sides about 6-8" from top are better than in bottom. Hope it works for you anyway.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2007 at 11:57AM
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ccoombs1(7B SC)

The blocks were old....they had been in my koi pond for a couple of years so they won't be leaching anymore. the concrete will....hopefully not too bad. I'll keep an eye on the pH in the bog. If it looks like it is too alkaline....I can always pull the blocks and concrete back out. The bog is holding water well. I watered it only once since I filled it and it's staying quite damp. I am sure once summer gets here that will change though. I do have a few drain holes in the sides already.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2007 at 2:14PM
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ccoombs1(7B SC)

I just wanted to follow up. the bog is fully planted with pitcher plants, VFT, and a couple of hardy sun dews. So far, everything is doing great. All plants are putting on lots of new growth and the bog is thriving. Thanks for the advise and suggestions.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 10:56AM
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I have an idea for growing carnivorous plants and sphagnum moss in a nutrient-rich marsh - will this likely work?

On top of the mud, pile 6" of peat-moss and sand then plant the carnivorous plants and sphagnum moss. I suppose the roots will penetrate down the 6" of peat moss before hitting the nutrient rich saturated soil; then probably not extend deeper. This would be like a floating-mat is in nature: that you have a mass of slowly decaying wood at the edge of a swamp - the swamp seems to be nutrient-rich, black mud, etc... but the plants are insulated from the nutrients as they are rooted in the mass that towers over the water-level and apparently doesn't readily soak up the nutrients.

So, does this sound like it would work?


    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 12:49AM
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