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How to create a wildlife bog garden

You will need

A spade

Pond liner or thick polythene

Grit or gravel

Well-rotted garden compost or soil conditioner

Nectar-rich moisture-lovers, such as water flag irises


Do it: spring or autumn
Takes just: two hours


If you don't want a pond or don't have room for one, a bog garden is a great alternative. It's easy to make and will soon become a valuable habitat for a wide range of moisture-loving creatures, from newts and frogs to damselflies.

Many small insects will shelter in the lush vegetation, providing a food source for insectivorous birds. This is especially valuable when they are raising their hungry broods. Bats may even visit at dusk to feed on flying insects.

How to do it


In a sunny spot, dig a hole 45-60cm deep and lay pond liner or thick polythene in the base. Make drainage holes, then pour in a 3-5cm layer of grit or gravel.


Fill the hole using the excavated soil mixed with well-rotted garden compost or soil conditioner. Trim the top of the liner so it's hidden just below the soil.


Plant nectar-rich moisture-lovers, such as water flag irises, marsh marigolds and purple loosestrife. Water well while they establish and add a thick layer of mulch.

Discuss this project

Talkback: How to create a wildlife bog garden
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robertahardy 01/05/2014 at 20:30

"Make drainage holes" - can this be expanded upon, please. Where, around the sides or in the bottom, how many, how big? Sorry but I am not experienced with bog gardens and I am worried about over-draining and drying it out. Thanks.

nutcutlet 01/05/2014 at 20:40

Drainage holes will need to be at the bottom or they won't drain. I'd stick a fork through a few times. More or less times, depending on whether you want really wet or dampish which will depend on what you want to grow.

Susie Cornwall 01/05/2014 at 22:08

Last summer I made a bog garden out of a small pond which no longer held water - it matured quickly and is looking wonderful now with lots of lush growth. The flag irises are showing a promise of flowers to come and the arum lily centre-piece has had one huge flower so far for about two weeks. For later colour I have also planted orange day lilies, lemon crocosmia, purple loosetrife and a large maroon leaved plant that has yellow flowers which I don't recall the name of! Tip - use wildlife safe slug pellets when young shoots are emerging in early spring.