The Q&A Archives: Soggy yard

Question: We purchased our home this past november & the back yard is as soggy as can be without actual standing water. How can we

Answer: Actually, yes, there are several trees that grow very well in these low, wet spots: Sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana; hardy in zones 5-9). A US native, sweetbay magnolia is a shrubby tree, evergreen in the Deep South but deciduous farther north. It grows quickly up to about 15 feet in the North, but reaches 50 feet in the South. The tree?s flowers are the same creamy-white as those of Southern magnolia (M. grandiflora) and have the same wonderful lemony fragrance, but sweetbay?s flowers are much smaller. Sweetbay will grow in full sun or part shade. Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis; hardy in zones 4-9). Our native sycamore is valued for its peeling bark, showing patches of gray, white and reddish-brown. Its leaves are very large ? a perennial favorite among children ? and the fruits are fuzzy, dull yellow globes that drop in autumn. (Most sycamores don?t produce a lot of fruit, so don?t worry about this being a messy tree.) The tree grows very tall ? up to 75 feet if conditions are right. Weeping willow (Salix babylonica; hardy in zones 5-8). No other tree has the presence of a weeping willow. The long, hanging branches are yellow in winter and are covered with narrow leaves in summer. These trees also produce fluffy, white seed in summer. Grow weeping willow in full sun, where it will ultimately reach about 30 feet tall and wide. Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum; hardy in zones 4-11). Another US native, baldcypress thrives not only in moist places, but in plain water. Although the tree is a conifer (cone-bearing), it drops its leaves ? or needles ? in winter. The small, green cones are round and bumpy, as if covered with secret Braille messages. If the tree is growing in water or a really wet yard, it produces root outgrowths called knees, which can grow up to a foot tall. Baldcypress grows 50 feet tall and should be placed in full sun. Of all the maples available, Silver maple (Acer saccharinum) is the one most suitable for a seasonally soggy site. Best wishes with your new trees!

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