Ponds have historically provided great habitats for numerous small insects, amphibians as well as birds and other species such as hedgehogs. Modern farming practices and widespread urbanisation in the UK have reduced the pond and wetland areas in the country, threatening the survival of numerous native species. Wetlands have been under particular threat and these habitats are unique eco-systems that support a massive range of wildlife. So, how can we help? With the growth of cities many new ponds have been created in domestic gardens and this has certainly helped. However one alternative to a garden pond is a bog garden, which despite the name can be a great alternative to a traditional pond. To achieve this the only material you will need is a pond liner, but generally a bog garden will be cheaper and easier to build.
Bog gardens are much easier to construct than a traditional pond with all that heavy ground work. A bog garden is not only easy to create, but can be extended, changed or even removed far more easily than a traditional pond. Unlike ponds, there is also another distinct advantage to bog gardens; they are extremely low maintenance. Additionally, for those with small children who don’t want to risk the dangers a garden pond can create a bog garden as a great alternative – although you can expect some very muddy toddlers unique weed pipes.
Constructing a bog garden is relatively simple. You will first need to plan where and how big you want the bog garden to be. Plants and bog loving species will be happy in shady areas, so it can be a great feature to add to part of the garden where other plants struggle to grow. Often the far end or edges of a garden will be suitable. You will then need to mark out the area with string and start digging. Dig to about 50 centimeters and put all the excavated earth to one side to dig back in later. If you are not working alone on this project, you may want to get your partner to turn the earth you have dug out and remove any weeds as well as to add some mulch or rich organic fertiliser if the soil doesn’t appear to be nutrient rich enough to encourage bog plant growth.
Next you need to line the hole you have created with a pond liner – rubber pond liners are usually the most long lived and least susceptible to damage from UV light or frost. Having invested in that pond liner you now need to pierce it with a garden fork at roughly equal intervals and then line it with a layer of gravel to help with water drainage so that your bog, while remaining water logged doesn’t become a pool of water.
A length of porous pipe or hosepipe needs to be laid on the gravel lining the pond liner. One end will need to be sealed and the other should be left so that it comes out of the ground. Then replace the soil over the pond liner, covering the pipe and before connecting it to the water supply. You only need to irrigate the bog area occasionally depending on prevailing weather conditions.
The final step is to get creative with planting-up your bog garden and then sit back to observe the types of wildlife it is likely to attract.
We have the perfect bog garden in the corner of our property in the shade of two relatively tall, low branched trees. It has attracted a number of different species of birds and numerous insects including dragonflies. We used a pond liner to create the bog as there were no naturally water logged areas in our garden and the liner prevents water from draining away, which may lead to the bog drying out particularly in warmer weather. Water supplied from a rain butt is ideal to make the project more ecologically friendly.
Lynette Holroyd: Building a bog garden instead of a traditional garden pond can be a great alternative for those with small children, or to make the most of shaded areas of a garden where plants struggle to grow. Not only an unusual feature, but a great habitat for wildlife, a bog garden can be constructed quickly and very cheaply.