How to Make a Bog Garden

A beautiful bog garden.

The sound of “bog garden” may seem a little off-putting at first, but once assimilated, your home landscape will have a unique feature that is sure to draw attention. The alliance of water and damp soil allows a colorful range of plants such as water lilies, Nymphaeas, and Japanese Irises to thrive. While bog gardens are just a tad messy to get started, they are well worth the effort to transition an eyesore into a meticulous display of garden glory.

Planning It Out

Think of the most frustratingly low place in your home landscape, this is probably a great area for a bog garden. These soggy spots often offer just the right amount of moisture to allow water-loving plants to thrive. Bog gardens work well in areas along small ponds, beside streams, or even under downspouts or eaves troughs.

Bog gardens are easy to maintain if you keep them on the small side, however, you can also transform larger areas if you allow for easy access using stepping stones, logs or other materials.

The best time of year to construct a bog garden is in the off season. While other plants are sleeping, there are fewer distractions to work around.

Before you begin your bog garden project, be sure that you have an idea which plants you'd like to add and a general idea where you'd like them to go. A rough sketch on paper is often enough to keep you on task.

Creating a Bog Garden in a Wet Spot

Mark and Dig - Outline the garden area using a hose or heavy rope. Begin excavating the dirt 18 inches in depth. Leave a slight ridge of soil around the area.

Line the Bottom - Pour about 6 inches of playground sand in the bottom of your excavated area. Place a waterproof butyl liner on top of the sand and puncture holes for drainage using a garden fork, spacing the holes 3 1/4-feet.

Add the Soil - Pour 2 inches of course grit or gravel and then place soil over it. Surround the garden with rocks, logs, stones etc. Let the bog garden settle for few days and then plant.

Creating a Stand Alone Bog Garden Without an Existing Wet Spot

Mark, Dig and Line - As with the other method, outline the area with a hose or piece of rope and excavate the dirt to 18 inches. The difference is you place dirt to the side. Again, line the hole with butyl pond liner or polythene sheeting and pierce the liner with a garden fork.

Add Irrigation - Place a porous pipe in the bottom of your excavated area with one end sealed and the other end popping out of the garden. This will allow for irrigation. Cover the pipe and bottom with 1-2 inches of coarse grit/gravel. This will prevent the soil from blocking the holes in the pipe.

Add the Soil - Replace the removed soil and check to make sure all weeds and large stones are picked out. It's a good idea to add compost, manure, or leaf-mould to boost the soil’s health. Lightly pat down the soil. You don't want it too compact. Once the soil has settled and is back to its natural level, it is safe to go ahead and start planting.

How to Make a Bog Garden, waterfall


Keep It Wet - In the heat of the summer, it is important to have a tap nearby or a water hose that will reach the bog garden. Then you can leave the water hose to trickle and soak through the garden.

But Not Yoo Wet - Be aware that plants can get waterlogged if overwatered or placed where water pools and little drainage occurs.

Pick Your Plants - Only plants that love moist, soggy soil should be planted in a bog garden. Some suggested plants are the following: Sundews, Yellow Iris, Flowering Rush, Obidient Plant, Cattails, Venus’s Flytraps, Pogonias, and Lobelia.

Compost Not Fertilizer - These plants do not need excessive amounts of fertilizer in order to bloom. However, compost is a more than welcome addition to the growth of the bog garden. The more the healthier.

You will never look at that unmanageable area in your yard in the same way again once your bog garden is complete. This project is worthwhile and watching your beautiful garden mature will remind you each day of the amazing versatility of plants and how important it is to see every spot in the landscape as an empty canvas waiting to be transformed.