We have a few acres of young woodland, with a large clearing in the middle.
We would like to put in a forest garden in this area. However, it is boggy ground on heavy clay soil.
The land is in Devon in the south of England, and it gets quite a bit of rain.
The land is reclaimed moorland that was used for grazing, then planted with mixed broadleaf trees 12 years ago.
I've been reading and listening to as much as I can on permaculture, but it's so far all theoretical, and I haven't yet been able to put anything into practice.
I think my first proper project is going to be dealing with this wet ground to make it usable as a garden.
I've included a plan of the proposed site. The planned forest garden area is about a 1/2 acre and is flat, so really collects the water.
I'm thinking I'll build some hugelkultur beds, but I think I'm going to need to dig ditches to carry the water away, perhaps into ponds?
We've also been wondering about bordering with willow to soak up as much of the water as possible.
The ground gets very wet and boggy in the winter, so even walking on it can be problematic.
Any help or suggestions anyone can give would be great, thanks.
Thanks, I'll have a look at the bog garden link, that's interesting.
I'm still hoping to be able to run a lot of the water off away from that area to the point that it won't resemble a bog garden though
our land was so soggy that unless we put in a 4' raised up drainfield, we couldn't build here..law wouldn't allow. where son put his house and our side yard we did use french drain, but we didn't carry the water off the property, you need to keep water on your property if you can..we just directed it where we wanted it.
when we built our place after the housefire and it was 4' higher than the surrounding land, we had the contractor dig soil from a really boggy area and use that soil to backfill around our house to make it a gentle slope down toward the area he dug out..the first year that area filled up with water but went dry in the drought in July and August..our son had access to a backhoe, so he deepened part of the low wet (when no drought) area, and he dug 10' deep and it was SOLID clay he dug out..the next year when the pond filled up with groundwater, that part didn't go dry during the drought..so we realized, deeper is better. So year before last year he had a few hours of backhoe time again, and he dug out to enlarge the pond and to deepen some areas, which greatly increased the water depth ..only the most shallow areas dried out. Last year he got 1 day use of a very small backhoe, and he used it to deepen some other areas, which filled up nicely during winter and this year the pond only went dry in the most shallow boggy areas at the edges..although cattails also grew in the shallows it has turned out to be a wonderful area for wildlife..I have planted some things around the pond, built a small ugly bridge, a dock with a grape arbor, and although there are still piles of clay that have to be moved around, it is turning out really nice. see blog. that probably would also work for you if you have access to heavy equipment..it did set back some of the trees in the area, but we are planting a food forest to the west of the pond and trees around all sides, as well as shrubs and perennials, and I have stocked the pond with pond plants and water lillies and lotus, it is a real fun project now.
Bloom where you are planted.
I know your post was a while ago now but I'm really interested in what you ended up doing and how is that area now? It sounds like we are in such a similar situation to you in that we are also in Devon with a lot of water and sticky clay soil. We have a stream and ground water running along the periphery of our land which is all so boggy and the middle islands flood during Winter time. It is such a beautiful spot with lots of trees and am just trying to find ways of hardening the island areas so that we can use the area. I was also planning on planting willow round the edges to stabilise the stream banks.
Would love to hear from your experience now 8 years down the line!
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