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by Sherri Sanders
Searcy, Ark. –
Bog plants are an interesting group of plants that thrive in bog conditions. Why create
a bog garden? Bog gardens are great for low lying, slow draining areas in your yard.
They do especially well when set up near a pond. Bog gardens provide a home for unique
plants who like to keep their feet wet and for wildlife. Beautiful perennials like
cardinal flower and bee balm and carnivorous plants like the yellow pitcher plant
will thrive in your bog garden. Bogs help filter polluted runoff caused by storm water
runoff and reduce flooding problems.
Bogs found in the natural environment are extremely important for filtering and purifying
storm water runoff. Storm water runoff is the excess water that runs across the land
when it rains or snows. Wetland areas like bogs help to absorb the storm water runoff
and retain and slow excess water as it heads towards river and streams. Communities
today are more vulnerable to flooding because we have filled wetlands, straightened
streams and paved and developed large areas. We have changed the way water flows
and taken away the ability of many natural systems to absorb and detain floodwaters.
Wetlands help regulate water flow and act like a sponge, filtering pollutants and
providing flood control
Recommended Plants: Spice bush, American/Common Elderberry, Louisiana iris, Lobelia,
Elephant ears, Ageratum, Amsonia, Siberian iris, Spiderwort, Button Bush, Cattails, Jack-in-the-pulpit, Pawpaw, Marsh
pink, Hardy hibiscus.
If you are looking for a water feature in your garden but worry about safety or don’t
have the time to maintain a full water garden, a backyard bog garden could be the
answer. A natural bog exists with low oxygen levels which reduces the decaying of
dead plant matter. This dead matter forms a thick layer as it builds up, known as peat. Most of the water content
in a bog comes from rainfall; this causes it to be very acidic and low in mineral
content. Plenty of natural sunlight helps the natural bogs to thrive so if you’re
able to mimic these conditions, a backyard bog garden of your own creation should
also do well. Ideally, you should find a low sitting point in your garden that maybe
doesn’t drain very well and collects a bit of rainwater. This spot needs to receive
a good amount of sunlight and needs to be in an open site away from tall trees. The
falling leaves will disturb the organic levels. It needs to receive a good amount
of rainwater and be undisturbed by activity from people and animals. These factors
will give you a pretty good start for a backyard bog garden.
Creating a backyard bog garden from the beginning may sound complicated but it’s quite
straight forward. Anytime between the autumn and the spring is the best time to start
construction. A bog garden at least five feet square with a bog pool in the center
about two feet deep, will help mimic a natural bog. Around the perimeter of the backyard
bog garden, a border of about 12 inches deep will allow for the marshy environment
that exists in natural bogs. The area will need to be lined with sand and gravel,
making sure that any sharp stones and rocks are removed. The hole will also need
to be lined. There are several different types of liners on the market. If you use
polythene sheeting, it’s best to use a double layer to ensure enough strength.
It’s a good idea to make a few small holes in the liner; this will allow a very small
turnover of water and help prevent the backyard bog garden from becoming too stagnant.
The marshy border will need better drainage than the pool area, so more drainage holes
will be needed; however, it’s probably best to start off with fewer and be able to
add to them if needed. With the liner in place, the marsh area needs filling with
a mixture of compost and soil. The backyard bog garden pool needs filling with a
mixture made up of three parts peat and one-part sand and saturated with water.
Once set up, your backyard bog garden won’t need a lot of maintenance. One of the
most important things is to make sure that it stays wet enough. Rainwater would be
the first choice for topping it off, but water from the tap or a well is fine. Perhaps
you could set up a rain-water barrel to collect rainwater in wet weather periods and
lay a pipe to feed the area directly? It’s important to keep the area clear of overhanging
branches and leaves, and to allow sunlight to the area. There is no need to add any
extra fertilization. High levels of nutrients will do more harm than good to your
bog garden, and it doesn’t need them to thrive. This damp but sunny area might be
a good spot to place a couple of pots with tropical garden plants for a bit of vertical
interest. Once a year, your backyard bog garden may need a bit of pruning. The best
time to do this is in the winter. Simply trim back any overgrowth to allow the site
to stay open to the sun.
For additional information on horticulture questions, contact the White County Cooperative
Extension Service at 501-268-5394.
The Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture.
The University of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal
access/affirmative action institution.
For additional information, contact your county office of the University of Arkansas
Cooperative Extension Service or visit the website at https://www.uaex.uada.edu/ .
By Sherri Sanders County Extension Agent - AgricultureThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Sherri Sanders County Extension Agent - AgricultureU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service2400 Old Searcy Landing Road, Searcy AR 72143 (501) 268-5394 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay. The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons
regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin,
religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any
other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.