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trees or shrubs for poorly drained clay

Posted by CLBlakey 2b (My Page) on
Thu, May 24, 12 at 18:04

I have one spot in my yard by the neighbours down spout that is always wet. Our soil is basically clay or gumbo. Any one with a suggestion on what I could plant there? Would prefer something that produces either flowers or fruit. Thanks


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: trees or shrubs for poorly drained clay

Red osier dogwood should do well there, and Viburnum trilobum (American highbush cranberry) probably would too although they prefer a more acid soil while wet clay is likely to be alkaline.


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RE: trees or shrubs for poorly drained clay

A lilac could probably tolerate it(not a tree lilac, if you do have alkaline soil, they don't like it). A saskatoon might do OK there too, though I don't think they are super attractive ornamentally..they look a bit messy. But you would have flowers in spring and fruit in summer.

I have terrible "gumbo" soil too, that is either a gummy mess or else powdery concrete..so I'm trying to think of what I have in my yard that would work. I agree that the dogwood would probably do fine, they seem to grow just about anywhere. I don't know anything about the cranberry, so I'll take northspruce's word on it.


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RE: trees or shrubs for poorly drained clay

As for trees, I'm thinking of a Birch would do well.


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RE: trees or shrubs for poorly drained clay

How big is your spot, and how tall do you want?

I bought a Nannyberry (Not the tree form) for a spot like that, although I haven't gotten it planted yet. There's quite a few Willow shrubs that might look nice, although you wouldn't get fruit or blooming.

If you do a search for "nannyberry" there's a thread from May 14, 2011 titled "Anybody have a Tree Form Nannyberry?" North53 posted a picture of a beautiful Nannyberry.

Oh, and Yes, if you have plenty of sun, a lilac would most likely survive there, too.


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RE: trees or shrubs for poorly drained clay

If you go with a saskatoon, you will need more than one for cross pollination or you will get only very few berries. I had one saskatoon in my old yard and it made maybe 2-3 berries a year.


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RE: trees or shrubs for poorly drained clay

A dogwood would be a good decision. I think a smaller viburnum is what you are after.

For a larger space I'd try a basswood if you think the space won't dry out. Ours loved the clay and was one of the healthiest specimens in the city before we were forced to cut it down. For birch you don't want them to dry out. If it is a shady spot it would be easier than if it was an exposed spot. If the spot is prone to dry spells you might want to consider a green or black ash tree. Lots of selection to choose from.


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RE: trees or shrubs for poorly drained clay

Look up pagoda dogwood...it might fit the spot nicely.


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RE: trees or shrubs for poorly drained clay

Wow thanks everyone---I love the look of the Nannyberry I hope it likes water as the lilac I had there did not do well also drown a blueberry there and one other shrub I got from a neighbor also was lost there. If it wasn't for the clay I might have tried a cranberry for the fruit of course. If the Nannyberry does not work or if I can't find one I will have to resort to Saskatoons (not my favorite but at least edible) I suppose not all Saskatoon bushes look like the ones at Saskatoon Island provincial park.


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