It can be frustrating mowing areas that stay saturated with water. Mowers can get stuck. Grass can die, and weeds can come in. Careful grading cannot always get rid of the water; often, there’s not much that can be done if you have natural springs or groundwater welling up in your yard. So maybe it’s time to rethink these areas. Maybe we’ve been planting the wrong things (lawn grass) in these areas, and it’s time to switch to some water loving plants.
There is much to be said for going on the search for plants that like wet feet, and there are a lot of choices. Not only is Minnesota the land of 10,000 Lakes, but Minnesota ranks second for the most wetlands in the lower 48. That means there are thousands of native plants that grow in Minnesota that can tolerate some or a lot of wetness. And the best part, native plants provide excellent habitat, forage, and nectar sources for our favorite birds, butterflies, and pollinators.
So where do you start? Consider attending the Landscaping for Clean Water workshop series. The first workshop is free, and you may get a grant for your garden out of it. Another good source of information is the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Restore Your Shore website. Many of the strategies for planning out a shoreline project on the website can be applied to your soggy patch of lawn. They also have an excellent plant selector tool that can get you started.
Here are some of our favorite wetland plants that might do well in your soggy patch of yard: Swamp White Oak, Red Osier Dogwood, Fox sedge, Blueflag Iris, Swamp Milkweed, New England Aster, Boneset, Prairie Blazingstar, Cardinal Flower, Cinnamon Fern, Golden Alexanders, and Canada Anemone.
Contact Apple Valley Natural Resources at 952-953-2462 if you are looking for advice on what to plant in your wet area. You can get so much more out of your yard than a soggy patch of grass.