The Q&A Archives: Poor drainage

Question: My backyard has extremely poor drainage. Couple with that a thin layer of top soil over dense clay and I often have areas with standing water days/weeks after it rains. I have recently put in some trees and bushes, all bermed up so they won't sit in this clay soil (and a truck load of top soil mixed in around these new additons to give them better soil to grow in). What I would like to do this spring is introduce flowers, perennials and/or annuals, around these new trees and bushes. Grass doesn't do well, I'd like to turn the ground over to flowers if possible. My question: Are there any particular types of flowers that tolerate/enjoy/thrive in this type of soil & drainage conditions?

Answer: You may need to experiment a bit to find which perennials do the best for you, before going whole hog and making extensive plantings of any one thing. However some which tolerate fairly damp situations would include Japanese Iris, Yellow Flag Iris, Hibiscus moscheutos (rose mallow), Joe Pye Weed, lobelia, monarda, lady's mantle and some of the ornamental grasses. Occasionally you will also find that Black-Eyed Susan, Siberian Iris, daylilies (hemerocallis), astilbe, forget-me-nots and assorted hosta will also thrive in a damp spot. Good luck with your plantings!

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