Boggy soil conditions need not intimidate the landscape designer. Take advantage of wet areas by creating a bog garden. It solves the problem of what to do with a boggy section of your yard and is easily maintained.
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Opportunity for the Landscaper
The bog garden enhances the overall landscape design. It is an opportunity for the landscaper to display plants not common to the average garden. Consult the U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone map to choose plants that adapt to your zone. As an example, papyrus, native to Africa, is an interesting reed-type plant that does well in wet soil. According to the University of Missouri, papyrus grows to a height of 10 feet in zones 9 to 11, but is delicate to harsh winters. When contained in a pot, it is used as a marginal plant in bog landscapes farther north and is moved inside when the weather turns cold.
Designing Your Wetland Garden
Unity and balance are important to successful landscape design. Avoid introducing a plant foreign to the scene. There are many plants appropriate for a variety of wetland settings from marshland to swamp or from moist and shady forested areas to the tropics. Rushes and cattails are appropriate for mimicking natural marshland conditions the reeds. A woodland setting might include mosses and ferns. Dwarf bamboo suggests the tropics, but there are others from which to choose. For colour, consider the ginger plant. Irises adapt to most boggy areas. The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences recommends bee balm and swamp milkweed for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.
Additions to the Landscape Design
There are no straight lines in nature. Keep this in mind when designing your bog garden. If the boggy soil you are working with covers a large area, create berms holding back excess moisture from some areas of your garden. Curving the berm to gives it a natural appearance. Excavate the soggy soil from behind a berm and refill the area with loose gravel and shredded bark. This is an ideal spot to sink pots for easy removal of the plants that must be housed inside in harsh weather. Choose to fill the excavated spot with solid soil, or a mixture of sand, gravel and peat or shredded bark creating an area of stable ground for the marginal plants that need moisture but can't tolerate constant flooding.
Invite the Onlooker
A small bridge across a portion of your bog adds interest to the landscape design. It is an approach to your focal point -- a water feature, such as a fountain or small pool, or a garden seat on the stable ground created behind a berm. Use of rocks and boulders of various sizes scattered at random as though a giant hand had tossed them there give a natural look to your landscape. Surround the rocks with ferns or other moisture-loving plants of various heights, colours and textures.
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