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In reality, many plants are well adapted to thrive in garden wet spots. Even if your boggy areas are saturated only part of the year, there’s a plant for that!
Before you begin selecting plants for your wet area, be sure to figure out why your garden beds are soggy. If you’re near a stream, have underground springs or a pond, plan to work around it. If the sogginess is new, be sure to remedy any runoff or broken waterline problems rather than planting over a more serious issue.
When you begin selecting plants, be sure your choices are appropriate for your gardening zone, environment and any size restrictions. Also, be sure your choices are not invasive plants; water lovers often are! Think about adding a good mix of plants that will provide winter interest as well as summer sparkle. If possible, choose native plants that perform well in your location; these are the ones most likely to provide ideal habitat and forage for your native wildlife.
Need a few specific ideas? Check out some of these options:
• Trees: Some trees are better suited to wet locations than others. Those that don’t like “wet feet” may easily become a hazard if planted in a saturated spot. Consider some of these first.
• Salix species (Willow trees, shrubs & groundcovers)
• Taxodium distichum (Bald Cypress)
• Shrubs: Examine shrubs that do well in ditches and streams.
• Cornus sericea (Red-twig Dogwood)
• Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’ (Yellow-twig Dogwood)
• Symphoricarpos albus (Snowberry)
• Perennials, Ferns & Grass-like: Mix these up for flowers, texture and interest.
• Lysichiton americanus (Swamp Lantern or Skunk Cabbage)
• Iris species
• Gunnera species (Dinosaur food)
• Blechnum penna-marina (Alpine Water Fern)
• Sarracenia (Pitcher Plants – carnivorous! )
• Groundcovers: Beware that water-loving groundcovers can spread fast. Use with caution!
• Moss (usually a slower spreader)
• Lysmanchia nummularia ‘Aurea’ (Golden Creeping Jenny)
• Houtunyia cordata ‘Chameleon’
As you create your plantings in wet garden beds, consider integrating elements like large stones and logs. Not only will these create habitat for the mosquito-eating wildlife like frogs, snakes and salamanders that thrive in wet areas, but they will also add year-round interest to your wet area garden. Plus, as the garden matures, you’ll be glad for strategically-placed solid steps when you head out to weed in the sinking, wet soil.