Need to plant some ground cover in a wet soggy area in the yard.
May 8, 2016 1:48 PM   Subscribe

We live in East Tennessee, zone 6 in planting. The area is a creek that is low sometimes but most always very wet, can not get a lawn mower in that area or it gets stuck, weed eating is being done but I really don't like disturbing the wildlife (frogs, crawdads, etc).

I would like to plant something that will cover the ground and choke out the weeds, this area is exposed to sun in morning but then in evening is shaded. It is at bottom of my driveway and planting something invasive is not going to be a problem. Attached are some pictures.
posted by just asking to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
Hi, East Tennessee! Maryville reporting for duty. Where exactly do you live? If you're not too far away, this is exactly the kind of question I would direct to the good people at Overhill Gardens in Vonore. If I were you, I would be worried about introducing (yet another) invasive species.

I wish I could answer your question directly, but I live on a hillside in a holler. The rain barely slows down on its way past my house.
posted by workerant at 2:09 PM on May 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

"***'s images are not publicly available."
posted by headnsouth at 2:13 PM on May 8, 2016

If you want it to really take fast and you want to be able to propagate it yourself, I really like sedum for this. I've used this stonecrop and this one, too among others. I love them the because after you have spent all your budget on the plants, you can harvest stems year after year and propagate more of them to get a really dense cover. They propane so easily - literally taking a stem and sticking it in dirt and off you go.

I've not had problems with them being in partial shade, although they are listed as being full-sun plantings, not have I had a problem with moisture being a problem either too much or too little. I've used them as dense and easily spread ground cover in both zones 4/5 and 7/8 with great results.

Another bonus in my eyes is that though they aren't native, they are easily removed if you decide to go native or just change your mind about things. It is really nice how easily they are moved or eradicated, unlike say ajuga (which I like for the looks, but it is really hard to get rid of and starts popping up everywhere after a while) or (god forbid) crown vetch.

You could also just start planting violets. If you get a really nice dense blanket of violets there is nothing better, but establishing them as a ground cover takes a while because you have to babysit it more with weeding and so on. The sedum just creeps along, politely and quietly murdering everything in its path.
posted by Tchad at 2:18 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I can't see your pictures, but it sounds like you are talking about a small stream. If you love your frogs and crawdads, I suggest you consider treating this like a riparian buffer and landscaping using native riparian plants, rather than planting an invasive groundcover that will not provide ecosystem benefits and that will spread other places by roots, berries, etc. Here is the Oak Ridge National Lab's native plant list, which should be perfect for you.

Here in the southeast, our streams are naturally forested, and those trees, especially their roots and their dead leaves, are vital for a functioning stream ecosystem. A good start would be to plant native trees that like their feet wet: red maple, black willow, sycamore, green ash. Over time, as your trees grow, they will shade out the other vegetation that you don't like, creating good shade habitat for you to plant other (beautiful) native riparian species like spice bush, beauty berry, pinxterflower azaleas, or native ferns.

Black willow can be grown from stakes: if you already have a willow tree in your yard, cut branches with diameters between a pencil and a quarter. Slice those into 8 inch or so length stakes. Pound the stakes into areas of permanently wet soil where you want willows to grow. Wait a few weeks.
posted by hydropsyche at 2:21 PM on May 8, 2016 [7 favorites]

Just found this from the Little River Watershed Association, which says everything I just said a lot more simply.
posted by hydropsyche at 2:23 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ok, I THINK I fixed my picture problem.
posted by just asking at 2:25 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, wow. Yes, if you love your frogs and crawdads, give them some shade so they don't cook.
posted by hydropsyche at 2:36 PM on May 8, 2016

If there isn't a sewer or other underground hardware nearby, you might do well to plant a willow. They love water! They'll seek it out if they need to, which is why, I've heard, they're not friendly to sewers/septic tanks/etc.

I'm thinking that if the willow drinks enough water, it could help alleviate the sitting water problem (which will be even more of a problem if mosquitoes become more threatening).

*note -- I was researching the herbicide used where I live -- I *think* it was glyphosphate/roundup -- and discovered that it's likely the reason all our willow trees died. So, don't use herbicide near plants that you actually like without reading about it beforehand.
posted by amtho at 3:15 PM on May 8, 2016

Stonecrops do not thrive in damp conditions. They are called stonecrops because they grow on stone. They expect and thrive in dry conditions like their original habitat - alpine regions.

Try ferns and hostas.
posted by srboisvert at 3:27 PM on May 8, 2016

Sounds like Sedum ternatum can handle wetness, unlike other Sedums.
posted by gudrun at 4:37 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Does it have to be a ground cover? Because there are some excellent pollinator plants that love wet feet. Joe Pye Weed draws all kinds of butterflies to my yard, and it also makes a big statement at around 6 feet tall. Swamp milkweed is another great choice -- it's a host plant for the monarch butterfly. Irises, including the beautiful native copper iris also love moist soil.

If planting something invasive is not going to be a problem, anything in the mint family would spread and choke out all weeds. Lemon balm, catnip, mint, chocolate mint, spearmint, etc.
posted by Ostara at 6:47 PM on May 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Does it have to be a ground cover? Because there are some excellent pollinator plants that love wet feet. Joe Pye Weed draws all kinds of butterflies to my yard, and it also makes a big statement at around 6 feet tall.
posted by Ostara

Oh, I like this idea! Beautiful purple blooms and it does indeed grow natively around here.
posted by workerant at 8:11 AM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

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