Plants requiring more water - Knowledgebase Question

Palm City, Fl
Question by pattiann12
March 14, 2010
My side yard does not absorb heavy rain water. After heavy rains the ground is saturated with water for days. Which plants would be best for this area, but not have roots that would get under my foundation or tangled up in pipes or pool filter.

Answer from NGA
March 14, 2010


Although some plants will tolerate wet soils for a short period of time, I think your yard is a prime candidate for a French drain. The French drain is a time-honored system for eliminating excess water from low points and other areas prone to saturated soil. French drains are quite simple: in essence they are just trenches filled with gravel, with sand on top of that. Often, you'll see French drains defined to include a drain pipe as well, though the traditional design is simply the gravel-filled trench. The advantages of French drains are low cost and easy installation. In addition, they can be covered over with turf after installation, making them less conspicuous. A French drain starts with digging a trench. The depth and width of the trench can vary, but 5 to 6 inches wide and 8 to 12 inches deep are common sizes and usually satisfy most needs. Grading is a critical consideration ? you must ensure that enough slope exists for the water to actually flow, and flow in the right direction. It might be adequate to check very short stretches of drain with a level to ensure that a slope exists to carry water in the desired direction. However, you should take whatever measures are necessary, including a survey and grading, if needed, to ensure that you have at least a 0.5 percent slope. A 1 or 2 percent grade is better. Add gravel to the trench to within a few inches of the surface. Gravel for this use is typically 0.5 to 1 inch in size. On top of the gravel, lay at least 3 or 4 inches of coarse sand. The sand will allow the excess water to drain through quickly.

If you choose not to install a curtain drain to help redirect the water or you can use plants that tolerate soggy soils in the area. Here are a few to choose from:
Aconitum (Monkshood), Hibiscus (Rose Mallow), Actaea (Bugbane), Isolepsis (Scirpus) (Fiber Optic Grass), Alchemilla (Lady?s Mantle), Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern), Alocasia (Elephant Ear), Monarda (Bee Balm), Aruncus (Goatsbeard), Mimulus (Monkey Flower), Asclepias incarnate (Swamp Milkweed), Miscanthus(some varieties) (Maiden Grass), Aster novae-angliae (New England Aster), Molinia caerulea (Purple Moor Grass), Astilbe, Myosotis (Forget Me Not), Astilboides tabularis (Shield Leaf), Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern), Athyrium (Lady Fern, ) Panicum virgatum (Switch Grass), Bergenia, Phalaris arundinacea (Ribbon Grass), Blechnum (Deer Fern), Physostegia (Obedient Plant), Canna, Polygonum (Soloman?s Seal), Chelone lyonii (Turtlehead), Primula (Primrose), Cyrtomium (Fish Tail Fern), Rodgersia (Rodger?s Flower), Gunnera (Dinosaur Food), Sisyrinchium californicum (Yellow Eyed Grass), Hosta (Plantain Lily), Thalictrum (Meadow Sweet), Ligularia, Tiarella (Foam Flower), Lysimachia (Loosestrife), Tradescantia virginiana (Spiderwort), Helenium autumnale (Helen?s Flower), Trollius (Globe Flower), Helianthus angustifolia (Swamp Sunflower), Zantedeschia (Common Calla), Arenaria (Corsican Sandwort), Lysimachia (Creeping Jenny), Galium (Sweet Woodruff, ) Mentha (Corsican Mint), Houttuyuna (Chameleon Plant), Potentilla (Spring Cinquefoil), Laurentia (Blue Star Creeper), Vinca minor (Dwarf Vinca).

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