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Is our 'boggy' area a Fen or Bog?

February 9, 2015

We have a very wet area just below the house. We were thinking of putting in a pond, but the area is large enough to have a bog/fen wetland as well. I need to do some soil testing, as we just moved here. But my question is about how to tell the difference and how important it is to plan for either a bog or fen? I am really unsure about whether our area qualifies for a bog or fen. Can you help me with identification???

We are a low lying bit of property - almost the lowest in the neighbourhood. There is a stream nearby, but it misses us. Our fields don't really need to be watered, but we can't plant until very late because we can't get a tractor in. The area we want to have a pond etc is very grassy and weedy right now. When you step, water swells up. There is a drought every summer. I was digging in the garden and a hole filled up with water 2 inches below the soil line, but it's just been raining very heavily. Also, there is a marshy pond at the far far back of the property (almost 9 acres away).

Comments (8)

  • cooperdr_gw

    Sounds like a good place for Irises. I always just called that type of area a "pond in a field" but I guess you could get technical. Tall purple Irises would pop up every now and then. I guess someone planted them there.

  • PRO
    Alfresco Living, LLC

    There are very few people that know the difference between a Bog and a Fen. Most people say they have a Bog when in reality they have a Fen. If the water is flowing then it is a Fen and you have a great place to put in any type of garden. A Bog is non-flowing water thus resulting in the soil going anaerobic (Smells like a septic tank or sewer). When the water is flowing you then have a constant input of fresh ground water and oxygen and a good place for plants to grow, a good Fen.

    To Pond or not to Pond; haven't seen a pic but it sounds like a good place to put a pond. The question becomes what are you going to use the pond for? Start with that then ask more questions. If you do put in a pond the fen should be 10% of the pond at a minimum. I can give you more info when you are ready to discuss the potential use of the pond.

  • s8us89ds

    I have a former swimming pool filled with many truckloads of dirt. I jackhammered several holes in the bottom, but it has taught me something about drainage. It is a bog. The word "quicksand" comes to mind describing the mushy, "soaked sponge" soil that only seems to dry out during a rare drought. After rain storms, it holds standing water in any sort of low-lying section, so I'm still building up the grade in places.

    But it has been more than worth it because of the native plants and animals that love this micro-habitat.

    I continually remove the alien Elephant Ears, Umbrella Grass, Yellow Irises, and Philodendron that are exotic garden staples. I tried native Horsetail Rush but settled instead on native Pickerel Rush. It initially gives modest green stalks with occasional large green leaves...but then explodes into gorgeous purple brushes for the warm 6 months that are irresistible draws for hummingbirds, bees, and dragonflies almost daily.

    After any spring rain, the frogs or toads start croaking their crazy, sometimes deafening chorus, usually all night long. Some bold fellow will usually start his singing during the storm itself. This goes on for at least a day or two, every time it rains, for a few months. The romantic little guys nestle in the watery sections, safe from view, leaping or swimming away only when closely disturbed.

    I have found that native Wax Myrtle shrubs grow like the magical beanstalk in this mush. I planted 1' tall seedlings and they turned into lush bushes that are taller and wider than me in just a few years.

    In parts, I have clusters of native Sweet Gum trees, some growing at 2' per year. In other sections, I have native Tupelo seedlings sprouting up everywhere. Along one side, Loblolly Pine seedlings sprouted and one of them is as tall as me after a few years.

    I have never seen such dense, fast-growing vegetation anywhere. It is exploding. I regularly have to thin it out and it quickly comes back just as strong with more stems than I know what to do with. Apparently nature loves to use every last drop of water when turf grass, weeds, and lawnmowers are removed from the equation.

    I also have the most amazing accidental ground cover. It's a weed seen in local ditches and banks of retention ponds called Moneywort or Dollarweed. It's short and odd-looking, a bit like a flat, green mushroom or a gigantic, simple clover. I let it slowly take over the ground layer as I plucked out grasses. It now makes a beautiful, airy carpet. I have never seen anything like its effect before, handsomely covering what was exposed leaf litter. They don't sell this little weed in any store that I've ever seen.

    Finally, I have to mention the mosquito-breeding. The bog is a giant mosquito colony. I might as well name it West Nile Bank. While this usually keeps me observing from a safe distance, wearing long pants and long shirt even in the scorching, humid summer, the wildlife thanks me. The birds thank me. The frogs or toads keep coming back each spring. I'm sure bats are feasting at night. I see more gecko-like lizards (Green Anoles) than ever before. I'm almost guaranteed to see at least one of them every time I walk out there.

  • PRO
    Alfresco Living, LLC

    I am sending this to my other half as she will love your coments

  • PRO
    Alfresco Living, LLC

    PS: How are the flood waters this morning where you are? Is the loop back open this morning yet? We were lucky these past few days in that we only go like about 6". Been in this house now for 16 years and during that time the stock tank has not gone dry only once, I think this will be the second year that it doesn't go dry.

  • redtartan

    We have swamp at the back of our property that has some degree of water year round, 2 areas that stay wet in spring/early summer only and a dug spring fed pond. We don't plant around it, everything is naturalized and I find dogwoods do very well and grow no problem, grasses as well (sorry never checked on the species) and we do have iris' that grow well in the areas that are only wet, spring/ summer. The swamp has trees and in the deepest part grasses. I want to do some wild rice back in the pond area, which could be an option for you if you choose to dig a pond.

    Around the property · More Info

    Our pond in spring

    Around the property · More Info

    Swamp in early summer, I believe.

  • s8us89ds

    Pictures of flooding in my neighborhood taken this afternoon:

  • PRO
    Alfresco Living, LLC

    This is why we are in North East Texas and not on the bottom end of the rivers. We actually live on Throckmorton Creek which is on the north end of the East Fork River, which is part of the Trinity River. Soooooo.. ... ... all the water that goes through my backyard ends up in your backyard 500 miles away.

    I'm glad I live on the north end of all this!!!!!

    There are a lot of rivers that flow north in the US I'm glad that there is none in Texas!!!!

    PS: the other advantage we have here is that we are on the north end of a Soil and Water Conservation Dam which has an overflow outlet at the 100 year flood plane. That flood plane line is about 10' lower than the foundation of our house. Everybody else below the Dam, that includes the city of Melissa TX do not have that advantage.

    Our prayers are with you, yours and the 8 family members that are still missing.


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