Sunday, May 3, 2009

Building a Bog Garden

We tend to do our really hard projects here at Draco in the cooler months. Also, some projects require planning, plotting, scheming, logistics study, and budget analysis. Well, there may be some procrastination in there too. I mean who can get pumped up about digging in the hard ground and lifting big rocks? We made up our minds that we needed a bog garden. They can work like natural filters for your pond system and a place for plants that fall between "in the water plants" and "out of the water plants." After going on the Austin Pond Society Pond Tour again last year and talking to people about their bogs, we knew we wanted one too. [Damn, that pond tour.] I wanted to improve on the filtering capabilities of the bog even more than the ones I had seen. I studied several filter systems and decided I wanted one that the water would rise through the filtering medium and then run over gravel in the rest of the bog before it reentered the pond system.

The Pond Queen approved the plan and budget. The budget was less than twenty dollars as we had a piece of liner and gravel left over from previous projects and I picked up the rocks at a friend's ranch. Only things to buy were PVC pipe and fittings. Let the work begin.

You can't have a pond without a hole. Thank goodness it was in the only place that has any dirt on the entire place. Oh, but there were tree roots. As you can see in this picture, there is the main, big hole and there is a trough. The trough is where the pipe with holes in it will be laid. The gray stuff is mortar mix, the kind you buy in a bag. The mortar mix is used to form over dirt that wants to fall away and not stay to the right shape.

The liner is laid now. You can see a bulge where the tree root is. Don't cut any big roots if you don't absolutely have to. The PVC is plumbed. The part in the trench has holes drilled along its length. The PVC comes from the pump at the far end of our big pond over sixty feet away. The dirt is added before the gravel goes in. We will have plants growing in there to help filter.

This is not a quickie project and takes considerable planning. It needed to be higher than the other ponds, if only a few inches. The wall on the trench had to be a few inches below the outside perimeter. The number and size of the holes had to equal or exceed the area of the PVC supply line. And of course you need to have some place to put the dirt you take out to have a hole. Here the Pond Queen is taking the spoils to parts of the garden that could use it.

Here the gravel has been added, a few plants are in, it's been tested, and the rocks are laid out to start bordering it for the final look. Of course final looks are not when you complete it, but when it has matured a bit and gets away from that just finished look.

This is closer to the finished look. The water bubbles up through the gravel, runs across more gravel and around plants and over the little falls and back into the pond system.

These kinds of projects are great to do yourself. It doesn't take any skills that can't be learned from books or on the computer. They aren't meant to be fast, so you can take your time, enjoy the planning, the scheming, and the challenge. Plus you really have something beautiful that you will enjoy for a long time. My greatest thrill is in the planning and gathering the materials. I am a real scrounge when it comes to our projects. That's why this whole project cost less than $20. But then I had to load rocks out of the San Gabriel river on a friend's ranch and haul them home in my little Toyota pick up. My wife, the Pond Queen, dug almost the entire hole by herself. I have no idea how much this project would cost to do it professionally but I'm sure it would be a whole lot more than $20.

Coming soon we will build a new section of rock walk way. And we will be using some big rocks. Also in the near future we will be getting into what may be the biggest project, other than building the house, that we have done here at Draco. It's all just a bunch of good clean work. But, there is always something to look back at when you're done. That and it's a lot better than exercising to stay in shape.


Pam/Digging said...

Nice, Bob. It's hard to tell how big it is. Can you estimate? And what are you going to grow in it?

Bob said...

It's about 12' in diameter Pam. So far we have Horse Tail, Arrowhead and a Texas Star Hibiscus. The TSH that I saw on the tour that were growing in water were huge. Mine rarely get over 4' tall so I thought I would plant it in there and see if it does better.

katina said...

You always make everything seem so easy. :)

Carol at Lost Valley Gardens said...

Very nice Bob! I love the simplicity of the water system design, and it looks great. Thanks for sharing the design process. Gave me some good ideas.

Bonnie said...

So cool! I love seeing the progression photos. And $20! Man, you're good.

Morning Glories in Round Rock said...

Very nice--and my gardening hat is off to the Pond Queen for doing the digging! I would need a pick ax to dig here at Morning Glories in Round Rock. You do make it look very easy, and the price is right!

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