How to Construct a Bog

This paper is a hastily prepared primer on bog construction. It’s not meant for the serious student of biogeography, but for the outdoor hobbyest who wants to have fun while creating something worthwhile.

Preparing the Landscape

Bering Glacier - Wikipedia Photo
Bering Glacier – Wikipedia Photo

Using water and cold weather, prepare a glacier such as those that were lying around during the Pleistocene Era. The transport of glaciers is likely to be a mammoth undertaking and is not recommended. Veteran glacier workers often recount the sad fate of two novices who attempted to hijack Alaska’s Bering Glacier and place it on a ship waiting off Cape Yakataga. Their midnight icecapade ended in failure when the two men became frozen to their work.

Allow your glacier to work for a long time. Then, melt it carefully so that a small pond remains. The pond–which is often called an undrained depression–should be free of fresh water springs, brooks, rivers, streams or creeks. This undrained depression will become the focal point of your bog.

Obtaining the Plants

sphagnumAssuming you have chosen the right environment, your pond could turn into a bog all by itself. But, this could take years and, frankly, how long do you want to wait around?

Secure a truck–or a fleet of trucks–and haul the following to your bog site: water lilies, bogbeans, sphagnum moss, tamarack and spruce trees. Please obtain your plants from legal bog plant nurseries rather than taking them from national parks, forests or the bogs of other aficionados.

Orchids, bog myrtles, pitcher plants,  and huckleberries will add a nice finishing touch to your bog if you can afford them.

Establishing the Plants

Tamarack in Autumn - Wikipedia photo.
Tamarack in Autumn – Wikipedia photo.

Plants tents do grow outward in concentric bands or zones from the center of a bog. With this in mind, wade or swim out to the center of your pond and establish the water lilies and other floating plants that friends have donated to this project. (Perhaps you can raise funds via a Kickstarter project rather than nagging all the master gardeners in your neighborhood).

Proceed toward the edge of your pond and plant the bogbeans and, perhaps, some sedges (e.g.: Yellow Sedge, Northern Long Sedge, Few Flower Sedge).

Next, you’ll want to take a large quantity of sphagnum–one of the 300 varieties of peat moss–and weave it into a floating mat in the shallow water. Step out of this mess of moss and plant your tamaracks and spruces.

Bog Research

Mer Bleue Bog, a typical peat bog, in Ontario - Wikipedia photo
Mer Bleue Bog, a typical peat bog, in Ontario – Wikipedia photo

Some hobbyists get bogged down with books and scientific journals. However, a high-class bog can’t be built in a day, and it can’t be built without research. Primary, or on-site, research is required for first class results. Neighbors who are likely to look askance at your bog building will turn their criticism into approval when you’re able to stare them down and say, “I know what I’m doing.” And, without filing an environmental impact statement, you’re likely to be arrested for disturbing the noise of the city with the relative quiet of the natural habitat.

Buy a one-way ticket to your state’s largest bog. Make sure you are not sent to a swamp because swamps and bogs differ. Please travel via a non-stop flight; otherwise, your bog may turn into a coniferous forest before you arrive. On-site, study precipitation, drainage, evaporation, humidity, oxygen and nitrogen levels in the water and soil, and the stratification, foodstuff interchanges and periodicity potentials. Take a sack lunch. This will take a while.

Some people can create a bog without even trying. For others, it’s a lifelong struggle. Research is only for the brave; the shortcut methodology in this report is for the fast-track individual. Whichever you prefer, your bog can be a thing of great beauty, the envy of all your fair weather friends and a hobby guaranteed to give you many happy hours of peace in this noisy old world of yours.




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