If you have a soggy spot in the yard where nothing you plant does well, you may be tempted to give up and leave it unplanted. “I don’t want to go through the trouble of installing drainage or re-grading the site,” perhaps you’re saying to yourself. The good news is, you may not need to go to such lengths. But what you will need to do is develop a landscape plan specifically for wet areas.
I have presented a sample of such a landscape plan above. But if you observe wetlands in your own region, you can acquire enough ideas to develop your own landscape plan.
Some of these specimens you won’t find at just any nursery. But if you conduct an Internet search for “wildflower society” followed by the name of the region in which you live, you may find someone who specializes in the sale of native plants in your area.
In the sample landscape plan for wet areas presented above, the pond serves as a backdrop for three rows of plants. The planting is “layered”: i.e., the tallest plants reside in the back, the shortest in the front, and the mid-sized in between.
The wetland plants shown in the landscape plan are listed below, row by row:
Sample landscape plan was drawn with the landscaping software named, “Realtime Landscaping Pro.”
Finding plants to grow in wet garden soil can be challenging since many common vegetables do not thrive in these conditions. If you are stuck with a wet garden and are committed to growing vegetables in it, try a not-so-common variety to regain control of that problematic spot.
For greens high in nutrients that also thrive in wet soil, try Tanier spinach (Xanthosoma brasiliense), Butterbur (Petasites japonicas) or Kang Kong (Lpomoea Aquatica). Tanier is a shade-tolerant herbaceous perennial that can be eaten raw, although it is usually boiled to remove the needle-shaped calcium oxalate crystals. Butterbur thrives in moist to wet soil in shade or semi-shady conditions, and its leaf stalks are eaten as a vegetable. Kang Kong, also known as water spinach, has even more versatility. It thrives in sunny or shady locations with lots of moisture.
For a vegetable more along the lines of a carrot, try skirret (Sium sisarum). Although a minor crop in the United States, the plant is used widely in China and Japan. Skirret thrives in moist to wet soil in semi-shady areas. Once the sweet-tasting root is harvested, it is boiled, stewed or roasted. For best results, plant this hardy, cool season crop in the fall. Roots are usually harvested six to eight months later. Spring shoots are also edible.
For areas where water stands, consider taro (Colocasia esculenta). Taro, one of Hawaii’s main crops, thrives not only in wet soils but can even tolerate being waterlogged for weeks. Both the plant’s leaves and tubers can be eaten. Just like Tanier spinach, taro leaves should be boiled to remove the needle calcium oxalate crystals, and the roots can also be boiled like potatoes. Outer leaves of the plant are cut into strips, dried and used in soups.
For a plant that is both visually interesting and an abundant food source, try groundnut (Apios Americana). The plant has been around for centuries and was part of the American Indian diet and even helped the Plymouth Pilgrims survive after they depleted their supply of corn. The climbing vine produces red, pink or purple blooms July through September. The tuber is as versatile as a potato — it can be fried, boiled or sautéed. The plant requires plenty of moisture and grows best in semi-shady area.