Wetland Gardens

We’d like to take a look at how to turn a waterlogged area into something beautiful!

Where we live, in Hampshire, UK, there is a lot of clay in the soil and with our wet climate, this readily turns areas of the garden into a quagmire.

But this does not have to be a cause for despair! The best option is to accept this area as a ‘wetland’ and address it accordingly.

If you fancy the idea, but don’t have a wetland area, you can create one artificially. More and more I’m being asked to do just that.

There is a range of plants that can not only cope with boggy areas, but positively thrive, producing luxuriant foliage and stunning flowers.

  • Hostas
  • Lillies
  • Irises
  • Marsh Marigolds
  • Primulas
  • Ferns
  • And a range of Grasses

… actually do prefer these conditions alongside other trees and shrubs.

We’ve briefly discussed how water attracts the birds and wildlife and wetland gardens are no different. Many birds and a variety of brightly coloured insects will soon enhance your garden. Wetland Gardens really are very beautiful.

If you create these areas artificially, in order to blend it in with the environment, it is important to create an extended marginal area (the zone between wet and dry land).

Another beauty of wetland gardens is their ability to stand alone as an attractive feature, or to act as an extension of a pond or a stream.

They are inexpensive, and easy to create, so here we go, get your spade out ……..

Creating your Wetland Garden (2m – 6ft wide)


  • Spade
  • Garden Fork
  • Rake
  • Scissors
  • Sheet of high density polythene 3.5m x 3.5m
  • 8 x 25kg bags of 10mm shingle


Mark out the area to the shape you want. Dig out a hole, to a depth of about 60cm (2ft), with sloping sides.

Remove any large or sharp stones.

Spread the polythene over the hole and gently press it into the bottom.

Hold the edges down with bricks or heavy stones.

Pulling from the edge work around the liner flattening the creases to the sides.

Using your fork, puncture the liner, creating drainage holes over the whole area.

Spread the shingle over the bottom to a depth of 5cm (2″), using the rake. This will now form a drainage zone to prevent stagnation.

Refill the hole with the soil you removed, to about 5cm from the top.

Trim the edges of the liner and continue filling, making sure that the edges of the liner are concealed below the surface.

Firm the soil down, using your heels and rake over.

How did it go? Ok I hope!

You must keep your wetland garden well watered during dry periods, which can be done more attractively with a seeping hose (a hose with lots of holes in it). You can make your own from a piece of 2″ pipe and drilling holes in it, the sort of pipe used for sink outlets is ideal.

This then gets pushed into the gravel, with the buried end blocked off. Insert your garden hose into the pipe and allow the water to trickle slowly through the holes. This method prevents puddling on the surface.

You are now ready for planting!

Using the suggestions of types of plants listed above, be sure to visit a nursery that have a good selection of marginals to choose from.

About the Author
Sandra Lawton – MSc Helping the UK Small Business population get online successfully.

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