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Name: Christopher
NC (Zone 8a)
HansMoleman
Jun 30, 2019 5:45 AM CST
Hello, all. I have a ditch in my front yard which is presumably for drainage. It's kind of an eyesore for me so I want to plant something there but I don't know what to plant. Some relevant details:
- I am in eastern North Carolina.
- It appears to go about a foot deep.
- I have never seen it full of water, but I have seen a little bit pooled there after heavy rains.
- The soil there is generally a little more damp than in other parts of the lawn, even when it hasn't rained.
- I have no HOA, and I don't think there are any city laws about this so I can do pretty much whatever I want.

Photos are included below.

I looked online for some ideas but I'm not sure what would look good. My ideas so far are:
- I think they're called cat tails? Those things on the edge of swamps with the fuzzy brown end. My only concerns are that they might just make people think "swampy" which is usually not attractive, and that the ditch is not consistently swampy enough to support them.
- Red clover, because I've read it grows high enough to pop out, though I'm concerned it will just look like a weed.
- Swamp sunflower, because it seems to tolerate swampy conditions, though I am concerned that my ditch isn't consistently swampy enough.

Does anyone have any thoughts on my ideas or suggestions of their own?

To give a better idea, I've included some photos below.
Thumb of 2019-06-30/HansMoleman/5aaec2
Thumb of 2019-06-30/HansMoleman/610377

Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
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porkpal
Jun 30, 2019 6:49 AM CST
It looks as though the ditch slopes down toward the photographer. I wonder whether plantings would interfere with drainage...?
Porkpal
Name: Christopher
NC (Zone 8a)
HansMoleman
Jun 30, 2019 6:57 AM CST
porkpal said:It looks as though the ditch slopes down toward the photographer. I wonder whether plantings would interfere with drainage...?


I think that is just my poor photography skills. The ditch is more or less flat and goes in front of every house on the street.

I can't speak too much about drainage since I'm not knowledgeable about the topic, but I would think it would be mostly unaffected. What makes you think it would interfere?
Portland (Zone 8b)
Vanessa999
Jun 30, 2019 7:12 AM CST
HansMoleman said:

I think that is just my poor photography skills. The ditch is more or less flat and goes in front of every house on the street.

I can't speak too much about drainage since I'm not knowledgeable about the topic, but I would think it would be mostly unaffected. What makes you think it would interfere?
I would just experiment to see what grows but it looks like your neighborhood needs some color (flowers)!

Name: Christopher
NC (Zone 8a)
HansMoleman
Jun 30, 2019 7:17 AM CST
Vanessa999 said:I would just experiment to see what grows but it looks like your neighborhood needs some color (flowers)!



I agree. Have you got any good flower suggestions? I don't have any kind of color theme for the plants at my house yet, but I'm toying with red and blue, or white and blue, or even red, white, and blue.
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slowcala
Jun 30, 2019 9:00 AM CST
Yes, flowers would be beautiful. Red, white and Blue to go with your patriotic bunting in the window.

I would do Red Begonias, White Petunias, and Blue Salvia. Those I would put just up on the bank. In the drainage ditch I would put Elephant Ears or Fountain Grass or maybe both. They will be big by the end of this year and they will add texture, form, and movement.

It's too bad you don't know someone who could dig you up some plants to share because that looks like a big enough area to hurt your coin stash. If you have gardening friends I would def hit them up for a handout. Crossing Fingers! Welcome!
'Only love can be divided endlessly and still not deminish' ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Name: Christopher
NC (Zone 8a)
HansMoleman
Jun 30, 2019 9:09 AM CST
slowcala said:Yes, flowers would be beautiful. Red, white and Blue to go with your patriotic bunting in the window.

I would do Red Begonias, White Petunias, and Blue Salvia. Those I would put just up on the bank. In the drainage ditch I would put Elephant Ears or Fountain Grass or maybe both. They will be big by the end of this year and they will add texture, form, and movement.

It's too bad you don't know someone who could dig you up some plants to share because that looks like a big enough area to hurt your coin stash. If you have gardening friends I would def hit them up for a handout. Crossing Fingers! Welcome!


That sounds like a really nice combination. As far as price goes, I think it might be a good investment for whenever I sell the house, especially if I put stuff in there which is both pretty and perennial. But maybe that's just what I tell myself to justify spending a lot of money here. 🙂

Thanks for the response.
Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
Jun 30, 2019 9:17 AM CST
Just keep one thing in mind. Since it runs down your street maybe no one pays it much attention at all. But for you, it is an eyesore. Anything you plant there will only draw more attention to the ditch as your attention will be drawn there as you look at the plants.
Cattails will do fine if the soil just holds some moisture and doesn't go bone dry for months on end. While your thinking of pond edge plants, Pickerel weed might do very well too.
I do not think that plants there will upset your neighbors because it will look swampy, BUT they might be unhappy because they might think that it looks messy and unkempt.
When you grow orchids, it is all about the ROOTS!!!
Name: Christopher
NC (Zone 8a)
HansMoleman
Jun 30, 2019 9:30 AM CST
BigBill said:Just keep one thing in mind. Since it runs down your street maybe no one pays it much attention at all. But for you, it is an eyesore. Anything you plant there will only draw more attention to the ditch as your attention will be drawn there as you look at the plants.
Cattails will do fine if the soil just holds some moisture and doesn't go bone dry for months on end. While your thinking of pond edge plants, Pickerel weed might do very well too.
I do not think that plants there will upset your neighbors because it will look swampy, BUT they might be unhappy because they might think that it looks messy and unkempt.


I hadn't considered that the neighbors might object but I suppose that's a good point. I haven't seen anyone else on the street do anything like I'm thinking, but most don't seem to pay much attention to landscaping at all so I can't say why.

Thanks for the response.
Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
Jun 30, 2019 9:46 AM CST
Welcome!
When you grow orchids, it is all about the ROOTS!!!
(Zone 9b)
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slowcala
Jun 30, 2019 11:29 AM CST
Chris, are you sure that that space is your property? The reason I'm saying it is because in some states the county owns 8 ft back from the curb.
'Only love can be divided endlessly and still not deminish' ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Name: Christopher
NC (Zone 8a)
HansMoleman
Jun 30, 2019 11:33 AM CST
slowcala said:Chris, are you sure that that space is your property? The reason I'm saying it is because in some states the county owns 8 ft back from the curb.


Hmm. Now that you mention it, I really don't know. I just sort of assumed it was mine because my mailbox is right next to the street. Definitely something I need to research. 🤔
Name: kathy
Michigan (Zone 4b)
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katesflowers
Jun 30, 2019 4:38 PM CST
I agree with Christopher.
We live in a rural area. We have a 7 foot deep drainage ditch that runs along our road, and appears to be on our property, but is really county property. We installed a culvert so we could drive over it to get to our house, when we first developed the property and built our home.
Across the road from us, our neighbors have a smaller swale, like yours. When it rains, their swale fills with water and drains down their side of the road until it pours into our bigger ditch, eventually draining into the Great Lakes.
Again, their swale (and probably yours too) was created when the county developed the roadway.
You should call your county road commission and ask if you can landscape that swale.
If they say OK, then I recommend hosta planted on the banks leaving the swale open for water flow. Hosta is hardy, a perennial, has pretty blooms, and pretty carefree.
Good luck !
"Things won are done, joy's soul lies in the doing." Shakespeare
Name: Christopher
NC (Zone 8a)
HansMoleman
Jun 30, 2019 4:43 PM CST
katesflowers said:I agree with Christopher.
We live in a rural area. We have a 7 foot deep drainage ditch that runs along our road, and appears to be on our property, but is really county property. We installed a culvert so we could drive over it to get to our house, when we first developed the property and built our home.
Across the road from us, our neighbors have a smaller swale, like yours. When it rains, their swale fills with water and drains down their side of the road until it pours into our bigger ditch, eventually draining into the Great Lakes.
Again, their swale (and probably yours too) was created when the county developed the roadway.
You should call your county road commission and ask if you can landscape that swale.
If they say OK, then I recommend hosta planted on the banks leaving the swale open for water flow. Hosta is hardy, a perennial, has pretty blooms, and pretty carefree.
Good luck !


I just looked up hosta. It looks really nice. Crazy colors, too, like something from an alien world. Are there really ones with dark blue leaves? Crazy!
Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
Jun 30, 2019 4:57 PM CST
Did you check on their culture? They do not like full sun, especially the heat, it will severely limit them.
When you grow orchids, it is all about the ROOTS!!!
Name: Christopher
NC (Zone 8a)
HansMoleman
Jun 30, 2019 5:02 PM CST
BigBill said:Did you check on their culture? They do not like full sun, especially the heat, it will severely limit them.


I didn't, though I am still early in the planning process. Really just gathering ideas and doing research before buying anything.
Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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Region: United States of America Critters Allowed Growing under artificial light Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan
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BigBill
Jun 30, 2019 5:13 PM CST
I have a suggestion. If you could cut the grass really close to the ground and then use a steel rake to scratch up the soil.
Then there are several "Meadow in a Can" products on the market. Can comes in different sizes depending upon how much ground that needs to be covered. You would be growing wildflowers. I used a variety at my job and it was beautiful. Maybe 15 different flowers and they seeded themselves. They came up every year!
The number of bees, insects and butterflies that were attracted to the flowers was really cool to see!!
Now HansMoleman, who in their right mind is going to complain about flowers!!! Thumbs up I tip my hat to you. Hurray!

They have a full sun mixture!
When you grow orchids, it is all about the ROOTS!!!
[Last edited by BigBill - Jun 30, 2019 5:14 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #2011748 (17)
Name: Christopher
NC (Zone 8a)
HansMoleman
Jun 30, 2019 5:18 PM CST
BigBill said:I have a suggestion. If you could cut the grass really close to the ground and then use a steel rake to scratch up the soil.
Then there are several "Meadow in a Can" products on the market. Can comes in different sizes depending upon how much ground that needs to be covered. You would be growing wildflowers. I used a variety at my job and it was beautiful. Maybe 15 different flowers and they seeded themselves. They came up every year!
The number of bees, insects and butterflies that were attracted to the flowers was really cool to see!!
Now HansMoleman, who in their right mind is going to complain about flowers!!! Thumbs up I tip my hat to you. Hurray!

They have a full sun mixture!


I think I saw some of those cans today on Outside Pride. Might give them a try after digging up the grass a little.

No normal person complains about flowers. But maybe a joyless code enforcement officer might. 😄
Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
American Orchid Society Judge
Region: United States of America Critters Allowed Growing under artificial light Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan
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BigBill
Jun 30, 2019 5:51 PM CST
Probably not!
They go after unmowed lawns drawing rats, debris and garbage. You'll be able to keep on top of the isolated piece of paper!
Or they might go after junk automobiles etc. I can believe a flower bed would draw any complaints.
When you grow orchids, it is all about the ROOTS!!!
Name: Christopher
NC (Zone 8a)
HansMoleman
Jun 30, 2019 6:22 PM CST
BigBill said:Probably not!
They go after unmowed lawns drawing rats, debris and garbage. You'll be able to keep on top of the isolated piece of paper!
Or they might go after junk automobiles etc. I can believe a flower bed would draw any complaints.


I'll give it a shot and post the results. Thanks for all of the help today.

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