Its been far too long since I've read/posted here. A sudden and drastic
change in career has kept me away from my computer. <sigh>
On to my question...
I've purchased a bit of property that I'm looking to build a new home on in
a few years. It's fairly heavy clay and quite wet in the spring and autumn.
I'm looking for plants that both tolerate wet feet and will also absorb a
fair amount of water. I'm in zone 5 - Niagara.
With no disrespect to the other posters, what I see being suggested ar
some invasive plants that many would consider weeds. I would rathe
know what you want to accomplish with the suggested plant material. D
you want plants that will thrive under the current growing condition
until you build and then remove them, do you want plants that wil
enrich the soil until you build or do you just want a list for plantin
after you build?
I think it's important to address the wet conditions, especially if yo
are going to build. Take a look at this site for some helpful info o
If you want to cover the soil with plants that can be turned or mowe
for organic matter to improve the soil, consider planting natives.
They will be less trouble for you now and later when you might want t
change things. The best way to improve the soil would be to ad
organic matter. You don't say how large the property is, but
covering of leaves, shredded newspaper, lawn clippings, etc would b
I suppose more information would be helpful. If you just want a lis
of plants for your garden after you build, that would be easy to do.
We would need the sun conditions as well.
Weeds & invasive weeds would be two different topics. Native plants
include many that are "weeds." The ease with which housing developers
eradicate all native plants to replace with the same-old half-dozen garden
shrubs presupposes that ALL native plants are just weeds.
While I don't necessarily second simy1's idea that a weed patch would be
best, I don't think it's an awful idea, & I can certainly see making it
work. At SinLur Stoneworks Garden I'm removing an extensive area of salal
which chokes out everything else (though pretty stuff & kept in some
areas), while being careful not to disrupt the other native shrubs in this
previously ungardened area, which is dominated by huckleberries & coastal
rhododendrons. I'm adding to the area exclusively stuff that can be found
wild on Puget Sound &/or the Olympic Penninsula, no cultivars, no plants
from other parts of the world in this particular garden.
The line dividing wildflower & weed scarsely exists. Most would agree the
trilliums & western corydalis are wildflowers, not weeds; there'd be
divided opinions about the rapidly-spreading western bleedingheart being a
weed or not. Western burdock most would dismiss as a weed, but to me it is
a beautiful native plant; it does not spread rampantly even here in its
native range. It is rarely gardened because of the idea that it is "a
weed" (or because there ARE invasive burdocks & our restrained native gets
blamed for an invasive species behavior). I was very pleased to see a
display garden at Clearcreek Nursery that uses the western burdock very
artfully, but it's hardly ever done.
-paghat the ratgirl
Get your Paghat the Ratgirl T-Shirt here:
I'm looking to improve about 2 acres at the moment - all of it in full sun.
I'd like some plants that will thrive in the current, unimproved,
conditions - including shrubs and trees. A windbreak is a must. And I'd
like to cover the area where the house and septic beds will be located with
something that can be tilled under - that layer of topsoil will be scraped
away before construction and then replaced once everything is in place.
Please forgive all these quotes. I'm not a usenet user, but pos
directly to this site as a gardening forum and still haven't mastere
the art of 'snipping' for quotes. I'm not even sure who I'm addressin
this to as there are so many names here. I think I mistakenly posted m
last post to Travis and it should have been to Simy1. Please forgive m
mistake. I've tried to leave all the conversations here for clarity.
To review (so I know that I have this right), you want to build on a 2
acre site in a few years that has poor drainage and stays wet in spring
and autumn and is in full sun. You would like to enrich the soil where
the house and septic system will be so you can strip off the enriched
topsoil and use elsewhere on the property. You live in Washington
state in USDA zone 8b. A note here is that at one point you said you
live in zone 5, but that is a sunset zone for warm temps and most folks
will think it's a USDA zone for cold temps, which is what is commonly
used. So if you post your zone, unless you live where it gets real hot
in the summer, such as the southern states, it's best to post your zone
as 8b for plant recommendations.
Here are my recommendations with the info I have. If you are going to
strip off plant material so you can plant for enriching the soil, I
would suggest that you address the drainage problems now if possible,
especially since the land will need to be graded when building starts.
That way you should be able to leave some of the property untouched
while building is going on and there will be less bare land during and
after construction. Mother nature doesn't like blank spaces and will
fill it up with what is available that will grow. If you already have
'good' plant material in place once the house is built, then you will
be able to take a more leisurly approach to landscaping with less
headaches and disruption to the land later on.
There have been many suggestions for plant material. The best way I
know of to improve the tilth and add organics to the land is to plant
green manures. Here are some sites about how to do that, what to use
and the biology of soil that you should find most helpful.
Green manures - for the first one read especially from 'Green Manures'
Trees for Washington:
Something you might want to consider is to find out just which plants
you already have on the site that have adapted to the wet conditions
and either save, propagate or move them during construction. A place
to start with could be your local native plant society. You might be
able to get someone to come and id them and even rescue those that you
don't want as there are conservation committees.. Their website also
has links for landscaping, ecosystems, etc.
Look here for local programs that might be helpful and native plant
Here are some other links you should find helpful. They are forums at
Garden Web where you can do some reading and even post.. If you post
on more then one forum, be sure and change the title of your post or
their computer will think you are spamming and block you. Lots of
Their main page:
Your local extension service is also a good place to get information.
Hope this is helpful,
I would consider intentionally planting taprooted weeds for a few
years. And I mean in great quantity (it may take a bit of seed
collecting, but all of them are very prolific), ten per square foot or
so. Mow them once a year in the fall to prevent woody growth. Each
taproot will become a drainage channel once the plant dies, and for a
mature plant the root will go down four to six feet.
At the same time the organic content of the soil is improved to great
Dock, burdock, chicory and dandelion are the best. Only dock really
prefers wet soil but, being weeds, they are very adaptable. Other
taprooted plants become too woody to revert easily to a lawn.
Incidentally, I have done it and it works. Right now you can find
burdock burrs in weedlots, dock seeds (available in july) disappear
fast because they are a major winter staple for a variety of critters.
Chicory seeds become available around august. If the neighbors complain
you will be limited to chicory and dandelion,which are less
conspicuously weeds, and which is what I used.
Try Tamarack (Larix laricina), black spruce (picea mariana) and google
willows (Salix sp.).
For a ground cover, use wild mint(Mentha arvensis) or fireweek
(Epilobium angustifolium). Tuck in a few pitcher plants (Saracena
purpurea) to control mosquitoes.
Here's a site that might offer more ideas:
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.