Creating Easy Bogs or Water Gardens

Here's one of the water feature designs i've been working on for 
my garden. A small water garden, with aquatic plants, and a floating 
solar-powered fountain. I am planning to create a bog, not a pond. 
Soil and lots of water and gravel will hold the plants in place

I am using this pond form that was available on sale. 
Approximate cost of this pond form was $60

This one is a nice size and shape, and it has those really neat plant shelves for small potsof plants or decorations.

  • 33 Gallon Rigid Pre-formed Pond Liner
  • 37" x 28" x 15".
  • Weather resistant, durable and UV stable
  • Flat base for stable plant and pump placement
  • Fish and plant-safe
  • 100% high quality recycled material
  • Lightweight and not cumbersome when empty. It weighs 4 lbs. empty.There are several sizes of pails, forms, buckets and basins suitable for small ponds or water gardens.


One pond form for each area of your plant groupings.
Given enough space, i'd like to landscape with several little ponds. Lots of styles, but i prefer anything other than round. You don't have to use the one i did, and you can create this type of pond for your garden or patio. It's not huge and it can stay filled outside through the winter. I am not using fish, just plant material and outdoor decor items. Pond forms are sometimes on sale at the end of the gardening season.

Aquatic plant Smartpots.
If you already use fabric pots, these are a logical choice. I use lots of them to plant shrubs and trees so that i can move them around easily.
Fabric pots to place your plants into and place in the pond. The water flows through it, but soil doesn't get into the pond. I use these for my normal gardening, as well. I like to put invasives into these pots, knowing that invasive plants aren't going anywhere. Roots in the traditional smart garden pots are "air-pruned", and the sturdy handles allows me to move the filled bags easily, and gives me lots of re-decorating and placement options in the gardens. Pots particular to pond plants are available. There are also plastic cage-type containers. The choice is yours.

Aquatic, marginal and bog plants.
These plants grow in and around water, and some will grow when planted in boggy areas. Some might be planted in soil as well. Most can be purchased where pools, ponds, and landscaping items are sold, but i prefer plants specific to outdoor ponds. I choose perrenial pond plants suitable for my USDA Hardiness Zone (5). Because i will plant the main groupings and expect to see them  bulk up and put on their show in the Spring and summer. There are pond plants specifically used as natural water filters that keep the water cleaner. Beautiful plants are also available from sellers on ebay. That's where i get mine. Marginals and bog plants can be planted near water or in wet spots in soil and blend beautifully with the pond and plants living in water.

Pea gravel and sand is optional.
I wanted to use  it on the bottom of my pond so that plants, etc. have something to grip onto/grow into. It can also be used as a base for your pond. I pour it over the larger base rocks to fill in the gaps naturally. It helps steady the base. It looks pretty as a filler. It also looks really awesome as a surface covering in your planters.

Mix items you already have as garden decor, pick a water theme, serenity, or asian or celestial theme. Use your imagination. I use Chinese vases  and statues of water birds, etc. from my home decor to decorate the outdoors. Then they come back in for the winter. Add shapes and colors common to your theme. I plant bamboo in pots to move around between gardens. I love to use windchimes and rain chains hanging from branches. They add a bit of serenity to my Buddhist/Tibetan decor. The birdfeeders and birdbaths look right at home and creates a beautiful habitat for you and wildlife.

Large and medium stones with flat bottoms to layer around or up the sides of your pond. They can be used inside the pond form to create ledges or islands. Driftwood or any other natural material you come up with can be layered around the form, and can be used inside the pond form once you figure out where your plants are going.. I'm building around the og pond, not inserting it into the ground. I want the height to be right under the raised garden bed.. Those plants will give height and flow to the raised beds. The plants in the bed will add additional height to the pond's design. and serve as a backdrop. 

Plants are chosen for their heights and grassy features. I'll have stones and limbs with nooks and crannies to stick other plants into.  The plants will be hardy to this planting zone and will include Yucca in the raised bed (tall,yellow and green), Sweet Flag grass (shorter and yellow and green for inside the pond), Elijah blue festucca (short blue green evergreen mounds of fescue grass) in the garden bed. Louisiana Black Gamecock Iris (Deep purple for use in and around the pond)."Color Guard", hardy, swordlike and spiky up to 3 ft. tall). Fan shapes, spirals and spear shapes will dominate.

I use small iron garden fence panels or garden edging while i work, and when i'm not in the gardens, to keep my dog from drinking from or splashing in it. I remove the fence panels if i'll be staying outdoors for a while and can keep my eyes on her sneaky ways after the pond is done.

I will update this page if I add anything more to these areas, and photos of the plants filling in and doing their thing. I will also add what seems to have been an error in judgment in planting or the design, as they happen.

Note: There are plants that are "marginal" bog plants, as they can grow in wet areas around bogs and ponds, and also in the bogs/ponds. These are known as shallow water plants, as well.

The plants inside the bog: All hardy to my Zone 6 (Southwestern Pa.)

Sweet flag - An ornamental grass that can be grown on land, in a bog, or completely in water. 
When grown in pea gravel in a pond, it acts as a biofilter that cleans the water as the water goes through its roots. Hardy to -30 degrees

Louisiana Black Gamecock Iris

Dwarf water lily will float in a container filled with just water and some gravel..

Corkscrew Rush - This spiral rush likes wet or moist soil and can be submerged in up to 4” of water. It spreads, so i keep it confined in pots. It's also a cool houseplant if you keep it very wet. Very tolerant of abuse. I once left one out of it's pot, just laying around because i forgot about re-potting it. After a few weeks, it still had green shoots among the dead. I re-potted it, and it's growing quite nicely.

Blue Rush. This will also grow beautifully in pots on your deck and porch. Dark blue-green stems grow into a lightly mounded, upright clump. Will flourish in areas where its roots are in water or where it is simply in soil. This plant makes a great bio filter when planted in pea 
gravel in yourpond or bog, cleaning the water Hardy to -30 degrees..
I will have this in pots filled with water and soil, and also in the bog to filter the water. I believe it grows to about 30 inches. They're pretty enough, so that if they do begin to get too large for that area, I will pot them up as large accent plants in the other beds..

Note: Since i have a very prolific habitat for birds in the front and back gardens, and haven't seen a mosquito or nasty bug in 8 years, i am assuming that the bog will feed them nicely, should bugs wander in. But i doubt there will be bugs where this bog is situated.... among the feeders and birdbaths.

How I grow a bog garden

I've grown a few bog gardens, which are quite similar to rain gardens, except that the bog garden 
is contained in a pond form, and the rain garden is grown as any other garden bed, and not in a container. 

The bog water  feature is at the corner of a seating area with a bench.
This corner was very unloved and unused, and the cedar planters neglected.

Photography© Mary Hyland 2020 all rights reserved
Planting my bog garden above ground allows a lot more creativity and a lot less heavy digging.

I add a shallow layer of gravel and sand to keep stuff from slipping on the form's surface. I dump a bag of high quality potting or top soil and some compost in when i finish adding the potted plants, so lightweight plants not in containers find something to hold onto. Yes, it's mud. After all, it is a bog!

Bog plants like quiet water and don't like being disturbed by moving water.. 
My bog garden is sheltered slightly under, and between planters. I wanted it 
to be part of a garden area with different heights and natural materials.
Nice and quiet there with plenty of sunshine at least 6 hrs. per day.

Photography© Mary Hyland 2020 all rights reserved

There are also pots, pebbles and soil around the shape of the pond form, so that i can plant regular plants, as well as aquatic. You can see a pot inside a pail with no drainage. The ornamental grass in the other pot is called "Corkscrew Rush". It loves wet, soggy, marshy, boggy places. I like to use it in a pot with no drainage, so that water is always in it. It survived our cold Zone 5 winters beautifully. I will try some growing in just water, soil and gravel and see how it does. It develops a large and sturdy root mass.

Corkscrew Rush is an unusual thick, twisted, coiling foliage plant. It takes a beating as long as it sits in a lot of water.
I had one out of its pot when moving the pot to another plant, and left it lying on it's side for a couple of weeks. It was just a ratty-looking, tangled rootball. When i did get it into a pot again, it performed wonderfully, with no ill-effects, despite my criminal negligence.

I haven't planted it in soil in the ground. It looks beautiful in my zen garden designs and it adds another dimension to the
asian atmosphere. Tall, thin, spiraled and curly branches. It looks great in a tall, narrow vase-like planter or bucket.

Photography© Mary Hyland 2020 all rights reserved

This is one awesome piece of driftwood, given to me by a fisherman friend. 
We are near 3 rivers and lots of waterways. Lots of it washes up on shores. I think it looks like an alligator.

The copper pots are decorative containers with no drainage holes. Perfect to float a water plant in or place a potted bog plant into.

Bog care isn't all that hard. Most plants are perennials. You'll be planting most of it inside pots, and inserting the pots into the bog, to avoid invading plants that have to be separated. Once the pots appear crammed with plants, you can repot and re-insert the plants. The leaves will all die down in the winter, like most stuff. But it will come back in spring.

Photography© Mary Hyland 2020 all rights reserved

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