How to build a 'bog garden' around your pond

Create & plant damp areas 1   2  

Why build a 'bog garden' around your pond for wet or damp soil:

Build a 'bog garden' or 'stream edge' to the pond water area:

  • Create an extended habitat for wildlife to keep them protected.
  • Grow a visual backdrop to your water area.
  • If this area maintains damp/wet conditions then it imitates the edge of natural water.
  • It acts as the emergence zone for amphibians as they enter and leave the pond at various stages of their lifecycle.

Construction of planting area around the pond:

You can build a bog garden to keep soil either moist or permanently wet:

  • Dig out 2ft of soil in a straight sided shape and line the hole with cheap lining material like builders damp proof membrane or old compost bags.
  • Add 3” depth of gravel to the base for drainage and then puncture the membrane with a fork.
  • Check which plants you intend to plant in this area before you puncture the liner.
  • 1 fork piercing per m2 of base area to start with.
  • The number or size of the punctures you make in the liner will control how damp or wet the soil stays.
  • More holes will make better drainage and planting will be moist plants <p>Suitable for moist soil (damp but drained)</p>
  • Fewer holes will retain more water and require wet mud plants <p>Suitable for waterlogged soil (wet mud)</p>

Which soil should I use for planting near my pond:

  • Fill with topsoil and humus rich garden compost if it is a moist area <p>Suitable for moist soil (damp but drained)</p>.
  • Fill with aquatic compost or a clay/loam mix if it is a wet area <p>Suitable for waterlogged soil (wet mud)</p>.
  • Do not use multi purpose compost for a wet 'bog garden' as this contains peat.
  • Cut the liner off at the top of the hole so the area can blend into the rest of the garden.
  • Finish the edge of the prepared planting area to disguise the detail of the work you have done.
  • Hide the edges with rocks or logs so it looks natural.
  • This planted area looks like it meets the pond area next to it but they are both enclosed in their own separate linered sections.
  • The water from the pond or stream does not flow into the soil area.

An old method of construction allowed water to overflow from the pond into the 'bog garden'.

We do not recommend you build this way because:

  • The pond is fullest in Winter when it rains. The 'planting area' is wet from Winter rain too.
  • It does not need to receive more water in Winter if the pond overflows into it.
  • The 'planted area' needs extra water in the summer when the plants are growing.
  • Pond water evaporates in the warmer weather and does not overflow into the surrounding plants when they need it.

Watering the prepared 'bog garden':

  • Keep the area as wet as you need by watering from a porous or leaky hosepipe.
  • Leaky hose is made from recycled car tyres that leak along its length under low pressure.
  • A hosepipe with holes in it soon gets clogged up with soil and blocked.
  • Leaky pipe has a stopper at one end so that it will constantly drip when attached to a tap or water butt.
  • Water build up forces the water through the holes in the pipe at root level.
  • Water reaches the soil under foliage canopy where it is needed.
  • Leave hosepipe on to suit the plants in your area.
  • Better than using a hose and sprayer which sends water over plant leaves that may then scorch in heat.
  • This 'bog garden' will provide protection for wildlife species in the emergence zone as they leave the pond and are vulnerable to predators.
  • If you encourage frogs to the area they will protect the leaf of Hosta and Ligularia from being eaten by slugs.
  • To add the right plants to this area see our Tips and Advice page: How to plant an area with moist plants or muddy plants.