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Thread: Inground Bog Garden

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    BS Bulldozer SubRosa's Avatar
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    Inground Bog Garden

    Hi! I'm` in the planning/early construction phase of installing an inground bog garden to upgrade my half barrels. I'm located in SE PA zone 6b, but the area the bog will be located in is a very interesting microclimate. It faces SSE, and is located in the inside corner formed by my blacktop driveway and a black slate patio in front of my house. The house itself is on heated slab which the patio abuts directly to, and is only about 8' to the edge of the bog so it's a very effective windbreak. I have a zone 8 hardy Rosemary bush located at the exact corner which has survived 5 seasons, the last 2 with no mulching. The best I've managed with that plant in other gardens in this region has been to winter one over in a year in which winter practically skipped us. Even in a half barrel sitting on the patio I wintered over a VFT and we had a colder than normal winter. I think an inground could be really interesting, and I just have a few questions for anyone who's completed a similar project. First off, the area I have to work with is approx 4' x 5', and 5 years ago I redid it completely and cultivated it down about 18" deep, so I figure it shouldn't be too hard to take it down that deep for the bog. My first question is in regards to drainage. With my barrels I find I have to remove a lot more water after storms than I have to put in during dry periods, and with an inground setup gravity becomes an enemy rather than a friend in this regard! I was considering just mounding my growing mix a few inches above the natural overflow point, and ringing the area with rocks to hold back the mix. Thoughts on this? Then my second question is in regards to lining the bog. I'd like it to be completely watertight, if nothing else to keep nutrients from leaching in from the surrounding soil. I was wondering whether I actually needed a pond liner, or if a lower cost alternative such as a tarp would be suitable. I plan on using an underlayment of old carpeting, and lining three sides with it as well to protect against punctures and root intrusions. The fourth side presents a bit of a problem as there is a well established Hazelnut trained into a tree there, and Hazelnuts invented the term "suckering". I'm going to be piecing together some scraps of acrylic I have laying around to form an underground wall to keep it out. Thoughts on a liner substitution? And lastly as far as filling, I was considering going with a 6" layer of pure sand on the bottom covered by a 50/50 sand/peat mix. Any thoughts on this mix? Is there anything I can do to improve it? Any guidance or suggestions are more than welcome! TIA!

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    mass's Avatar
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    I used a $5 tarp to line my largest.. works just fine. 8ft. long x 4ft. wide x 3ft. deep


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    BS Bulldozer SubRosa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mass View Post
    I used a $5 tarp to line my largest.. works just fine. 8ft. long x 4ft. wide x 3ft. deep

    That's the nicest thing anyone's said to me all day! Thank you very much, it's not like a liner is that expensive, but when I think of the plants I can buy with the difference it's an easy choice, especially considering that this is not a permanent CP bog. There's a sapling Green Ash and a slightly larger Basswood nearby that will shade it at some point, but I hope to get 10 years out of it. I can drill a bunch of holes in the liner and plant Huckleberries when it gets too shady for CPs!

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    BS Bulldozer SubRosa's Avatar
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    I just looked closely, you went 3' deep! That's a lot of fill, what did you use to do it?

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    If want the depth just as a water reservoir rather than growing medium (which should be about 12 -16inches), then I use upturned buckets with holes drilled in the bottom and sides and/or large plastic plant pots to fill the volume but allow water in and out for storage or transition. So long as your substrate is touching the water (or some other wicking mechanism is used) then the water will be drawn up and keep the plants wet,which saves a lot of time and bother during summer on watering duties. However should you ever need (or want to) to innundate the bog, that potentially takes a lot of water, so have some water collection system ready.

    Ringing the bog liner above the ground with rocks is always a good idea, especially if your area floods, it keeps the run off and therefore nutrients out of the bog.

    You will need something strong to keep out the tree roots, and how long tarps last when completely flooded with acidic water I dont know, but if mass has got one already he may be able to help.

    Cheers
    Steve

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    mass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SubRosa View Post
    I just looked closely, you went 3' deep! That's a lot of fill, what did you use to do it?
    A shovel..

    Or did you mean the media? I used 8 bales of pure Michigan peat totaling $88. I also added piping 2' down, spaced one foot apart, along one side of the bog for overflow drainage

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    BS Bulldozer SubRosa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Booth View Post
    If want the depth just as a water reservoir rather than growing medium (which should be about 12 -16inches), then I use upturned buckets with holes drilled in the bottom and sides and/or large plastic plant pots to fill the volume but allow water in and out for storage or transition. So long as your substrate is touching the water (or some other wicking mechanism is used) then the water will be drawn up and keep the plants wet,which saves a lot of time and bother during summer on watering duties. However should you ever need (or want to) to innundate the bog, that potentially takes a lot of water, so have some water collection system ready.

    Ringing the bog liner above the ground with rocks is always a good idea, especially if your area floods, it keeps the run off and therefore nutrients out of the bog.

    You will need something strong to keep out the tree roots, and how long tarps last when completely flooded with acidic water I dont know, but if mass has got one already he may be able to help.

    Cheers
    Steve
    EXCELLENT idea about the buckets, and since I run an aquarium service company I have a garage full at my disposal! I'll have to go a bit deeper than planned to get the 18" substrate depth I figured on. The tarp I have is big enough and I do have the buckets, so it'll only cost a bit more sweat. I also see a way to integrate it into another design idea I had, which was to have a standpipe with a small water pump inside it to be able to drain excess water after rains. By bulkheading the bottom of a bucket and attaching the standpipe to the bulkhead the entire bucket (full of rocks) can act as a strainer to keep debris out of the pump. I did it with my half barrels and find that once they're full in the spring I really don't need to add water, but I often have to siphon excess out. This will be much deeper so I anticipate not needing to have to add water, but I keep large amounts of RO around and can make about 100gpd in warm weather if I need it. I'll mount the pump about 6" below the level of the substrate. Plus the corner where I'm putting the standpipe is actually the lowest spot in that bed, but still above the surrounding lawn so I'll configure the liner to allow surface runoff at that point as well. I'm getting really good info here people, and I greatly appreciate it!

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    BS Bulldozer SubRosa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mass View Post
    A shovel..

    Or did you mean the media? I used 8 bales of pure Michigan peat totaling $88. I also added piping 2' down, spaced one foot apart, along one side of the bog for overflow drainage
    Yes I meant the media! You didn't mix any sand in?

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