by Leslie Cox; Thursday; August 17, 2017

mini bog installationThis project is specifically for creating a small space in your garden bed to help a water-loving plant survive the current run of drought conditions we have been experiencing in our normally rainforest-like conditions here in the Pacific Northwest. If you want to group a few plants together in one spot which require more water than your local water restrictions allow, these instructions are easily expanded.

You will need:

  • a shovel
  • plastic bag from purchased soil or manure or suitable piece of plastic from another source
  • compost and/or aged manure
  • Organic Complete Fertilizer (click here for recipe)


  1. Dig a hole 12 – 24 inches (30 – 60 cm) deep and wide, depending on the size of your plant. For a small- to medium-sized hosta, for instance, you only need a hole 12 to 18 inches (30 – 45 cm), depending on the hosta. For plants which have a tap root, such as lupins, hollyhocks, and some poppies, you will need to dig a deeper hole but can likely keep your hole narrow unless you are planting an acanthus (bear’s breeches).
  1. Line the hole with the plastic, keeping the edges above the surface of the soil. You want to use a plastic liner which does not have any holes where the water can leak out. This would defeat the purpose of making a mini bog. I know some, or most, DYI mini bog directions say to make several holes in the plastic about 4 inches (10 cm) below the soil surface to protect against crown rot. I do not recommend punching the holes as, again, it rather defeats the purpose of keeping your water-loving plants adequately hydrated. There is a way of protecting your plants from getting crown rot, which I will explain further on in the Directions.
  1. Fill the plastic-lined hole about two-thirds full with a 50/50 mix of garden soil and compost (or well-aged manure if you do not have any homemade compost).
  1. Thoroughly mix one to two cups of Organic Complete Fertilizer into the soil/compost mixture. Amount of fertilizer will depend on the size of your hole and size of your plant.
  1. Position your plant in the hole so the crown of the plant is slightly raised up from the surrounding soil surface by 2 – 3 inches (5 – 7.5 cm). This is important as this step is what will ensure your plant does not succumb to crown rot.
  1. Fill in the rest of the hole with your 50/50 mix of soil and compost, making sure the plant’s crown remains at least 2 inches (5 cm) above the soil’s surface.
  1. Trim the plastic and fold cut edge over so you can neatly bury all signs of plastic just below the soil surface.

And voilá! You have a neat little bog which will keep your plant well hydrated all through the worst of the drought. Believe me, the mini bogs I have installed in various spots in my landscape have definitely helped my plants weather fifty-five days of no rain this summer. I also have a couple of plants which have thrived in their bog spot for three years now.

In the back garden, we have two much larger bogs which we installed at least ten years ago to house about six different plant species in each. Both are roughly 24 inches (60 cm) deep and 36 – 40 inches (90 – 100 cm) in diameter. They have thrived beautifully…only needing some divisional attention once so far to combat over-crowding. Have not had any succumb to crown rot.