What to plant near a creek that will be able to overcome weeds?
May 20, 2012 5:24 PM   Subscribe

I have a area in my yard that is sometimes muddy and sometimes not due to a small creek that is a trickle or bigger according to the weather. I normally weed-eat this area but do not like disturbing the frogs, etc that live there naturally. This area is partly sunny and partly shade. What could I plant in this area that would thrive in mud and be able to overcome the weeds? I live in East Tennessee (Zone 6).
posted by sandyp to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
posted by bricksNmortar at 5:59 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Look up rain gardens online. Or wetland gardens. You might even be able to get a grant to pay for part if it.
posted by fshgrl at 6:12 PM on May 20, 2012

Papyrus. Elephant Ears.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 6:18 PM on May 20, 2012

Willow tree? I've heard they draw a lot of water.
posted by vitabellosi at 6:28 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Arrowhead, irises, pickerel.

Searching for lists of "bog plants" might help.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:40 PM on May 20, 2012

Swamp Milkweed. Bonus: Monarch butterflies.

We grow a bunch in a low, wet spot in our yard that is boggy much of the summer and DRY AS A BONE in July, and part of the summer gets scorching sun and then gets shaded out by other things. It is a very tolerant, happy plant.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:06 PM on May 20, 2012

I think the best answer is going to depend on whether the site is muddy when it's wet and dry when it's dry, or standing water when it's wet and merely muddy when it's dry. Some bog plants prefer standing water (I'd put arrowhead and pickerel in those categories) but can tolerate dry periods when it's merely muddy.

Other plants, like irises, can tolerate muddy conditions or even occasional standing water but are also ok or even happy if its only soggy part of the time. If that's what you've got, then I would second irises, and we've also had really good luck with Houttuynia cordata 'Chameleon' in areas around our pond that are sometimes saturated but often not.
posted by drlith at 7:10 PM on May 20, 2012

Hog peanut is tolerant of shade, likes moist conditions, fixes nitrogen, and produces tasty little nuts. It's also very competitive, but easy to control.
posted by release the hardwoods! at 7:39 PM on May 20, 2012

holly bushes are supposed to do well in swampy conditions. You might also look into boxwoods,
posted by elizeh at 7:50 PM on May 20, 2012

Can you contact a university extension office for advice? Please try to plant native plants because you won't run into issues with invasive plants and because the animals will probably do better with native species.
posted by hydrobatidae at 9:00 PM on May 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

I would just call up or drive out to the nearest native plant nursery and ask them. It's nice to avoid introducing invasive species (some have already been suggested) to waterways if possible, even marginal ones. The people at the nursery will be able to give you the most region-specific information for what might thrive without doing unnecessary damage.
posted by wreckingball at 9:00 PM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Dogwoods? Based on past mefi advise its what I use on the wet parts of my yard.
posted by saradarlin at 9:49 PM on May 20, 2012

I like to let nature be my guide in situations like this. Look around the neighborhood for areas with a similar drainage issue. Do you notice anything thriving around those areas?

As an alternative, you might try building in a rock bed and perhaps making room for water to well up after a rain. It would attract wildlife to the area, and could be a nice feature.
posted by Gilbert at 9:56 PM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yeah, Gilbert has a great point. Build it up a little so it pools a bit, but not so much that when the water run is heavy that it backs up and floods all over your yard, then go nuts with "marginal" plants that love wet roots and some flooding but can tolerate dryness. Then you can have horsetails and pickerel and cattails and king tut papyrus! Many kinds of ferns also. Swamp cypress!
posted by RJ Reynolds at 6:00 AM on May 21, 2012

Mint! Lots and lots of mint. There are some really pretty ones too. Spearmint, peppermint and any number of the nice cultivated varieties. Chocolate mint is especially nice. They are very tolerant of varied conditions, and YOU CAN MAKE TEA!
posted by LaBellaStella at 7:33 AM on May 21, 2012


and chutney.
posted by goethean at 7:41 AM on May 21, 2012

Mint can be very invasive as well, as useful as it is. Nthing the recommendation for a native plant.
posted by bookdragoness at 1:40 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

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