What to plant in boggy area between homes

I have a difficult area between my house and my neighbors’. Their water and mine drains onto the property line and gets very boggy. The space is very small: only 10 feet between the houses that face south.

What I want to do is plant something with nice foliage that can handle the sometimes boggy area. It only gets sun between 10 or 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 or 2 p.m. There is also a vinyl fence to contend with. I was thinking of hostas along the whole length of the fence. Do you think that is a good choice? What about bamboo?

— Laura

I think that this might be a little too much sun for hostas to grow well. They really require more or less complete shade, especially in our desert climate.

Actually, with three or four hours of direct sunlight a day, I think that you could grow many things in that area. My big worry is the boggy soil. There really aren’t that many plants that can tolerate water-saturated soil for extended periods of time, and that includes bamboo.

In shrubs, probably the most tolerant would be a willow of some sort.

Dwarf blue actic willow will grow 4–6 feet tall with a rounded shape. It has bluish leaves with fine purple stems.

Other plants tolerant of wet soil conditions include the shrubby dogwoods, Annabelle hydrangea, sweetspire, ninebark and viburnums.

Realize that all of these have their limits as to how much water they will tolerate. It will boil down to how boggy the area stays.

Does it stay wet all the time or does it get a chance to dry? If it dries out, then our choice of plants expands greatly.

In perennials, some choices include monkshood, snow on the mountain, cardinal flower, Japanese iris, loosestrife and bee balm.

I’m not too sure how well the first three would do with that much sun. They do best in shade.

That’s really part of the problem. The plants that tolerate wetter soils usually don’t do well here with any significant amount of sun.

If it’s really a problem area, you might consider modifying the grade to alleviate the water problem.

Providing drainage away from the area would make the boggy ground disappear, and then there would be a lot of plant choices before you.

You might also consider building a berm or a raised bed to lift the plants out of that soggy soil.

That may not be a particularly attractive option because it will take a lot of work and money, but it is a possibility.

In extreme cases, people just cover the area with gravel to keep it looking neat and leave it at that.

You might consider planting up out of that low spot closer to the house. I’m assuming that the soil isn’t soggy next to the house. As you move away from the fence and closer to the house, the grade rises and the soil has a chance to dry.

This might not be an option for you, but I thought I’d throw it out, anyway.

I have irrigation water. This last year provided me with an enormous amount of silt that is rich with big worms throughout. Is this dirt safe to mix up with my vegetable garden?

— Tammy

Actually that “silt” isn’t bad soil to begin with. The texture is usually pretty good and there’s a good amount of organic matter in it.

I just wouldn’t overuse it. It can sometimes be a bit salty. And having the earthworms is really a bonus. They really help to aerate and enrich the soil.

Use it to your heart’s content.


Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, http://www.bookcliffgardens.com. Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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