Plants that survive in dry/really wet climates

Justinbattle10July 2, 2013

We have a problem. We planted a ton of Perennials this past year only to have them all die on us in one of our flower beds. Our house sits below street level. When it rains, the water pools at the bottom of the yard right on the sidewalk to the front door. We have a flower bed that lines the walkway in front of the house. Our house was basically built on clay. There is no soil in the ground past 2 inches deep. In order for us to plant anything, we have to dig the holes twice the suggested hole size and pour garden/top soil into the holes and then plant the plants. This works well for every plant in our yard except this one area. The plants did great initially. It was a dry spring/beginning of summer. The plants thrived and did really well...then the rain came. There were days when the rain levels would be to the tops of the flowers. The rain would eventually evaporate in a day or so, but the ground stays extremely wet. There is really nowhere for the water to go and there is no way for oxygen to get into the ground at this point.
We need to find a plant that does really well in both dry climates (for those scorchers!) and wet climates (for the rainy gloomy days that keep our yard wet for days.) We plan on ripping all the plants out that are there and plant some sort of greenery that stays green all year round. The area is quite large, so I want plants that aren't necessarily tall, but have a decent size diameter.
We discussed doing some sort of French Drain, but this isn't our forever home, so we're not looking to put a ton of money into this.
Any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated to help with our problem! :) Thanks in advance!!

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If you were going to invest in the property, I would suggest raised beds would help greatly. Otherwise, why not do large container/tub plantings--then, you could take them with you. Can't think of any annuals or perennials that tolerate being submerged like that. You are not alone, millions of us this year are either dealing with severe drought (West) or depressingly unrelently, torrential rains.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 10:55AM
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There are some native plants that would work for you in that situation.

Any of the cultivars of the Panicum Grasses, "Switch Grass" would do very well, they can take standing water, clay soil with poor drainage and drought periods. There are many cultivars that are very pretty. My favorite is 'Northwind' which is so vertical it looks ironed and a sort of deep olive green color. Looking at your picture, the vertical aspect would work in that kind of narrow space by the sidewalk the best. Another fairly vertical one is 'Heavy Metal' which is powder blue and there are some that turn red in fall as well. These get around waist or sometimes chest high not counting the blooms and the clumps get larger and prettier every year. They are very popular in the nursery trade and easy to find all different kinds of cultivars because native grass gardens are sort of an in thing currently. Some other low growing types of ornamental grass would be worth a try I think because they can be pretty forgiving.

Physostegia, Spring Obedient Plant will take poor drainage and standing water.

Hibiscus militaris, Halbert Leaf Hibiscus grows in freshwater marshes or shallow water and will also take poor drainage. It gets 3 to 8' tall

Maximillian sunflower grows wild in ditches around here in slimy clay that later dries out hard as bricks so I know these would do well also but you'd want to plant something at the base which can get ratty looking toward the bottom part. It gets tall like a hollyhock, blooms in fall.

Wild Ageratum "Blue Mist Flower" is another.

Otherwise, you will have to build up higher. We did that in some areas with a couple of large loads of topsoil and sand and it solved the problem.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 4:40PM
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jcalhoun(8b Mobile County AL)

Maybe build a small levee or floodwall to direct the water away from the yard.

Blueberries, huckleberries, seviceberry, dahoon holly, winterberry holly, cyrilla, tupelo, cypress, red maple, sourwood and stawberries could be some options.

Not sure it helps but some places do not allow homes to be built lower than the crown of the road.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 4:08PM
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