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native plants to help with drainage problems?

native plants to help with drainage problems?

Old 03-24-08, 12:01 PM
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native plants to help with drainage problems?

we have a lot of issues with drainage on our property, which slopes gently downhill towards the street. a lot of the water gets caught behind our house, where it forms a kind of swamp. part of the problem is our backyard neighbors -- huge mcmansions with virtually no yard, whose sumps empty very close to our property line and run down into our backyard.

the good thing is, we have a blank slate: there is virtually nothing but grass in our yard. there are two areas where I think plants might help:

first, after adding some soil to make the ground slope slightly away from the house (much of this eroded and washed away with last summer's rains), i want to add some plants/bushes along the back of our house, to soak up some of the puddles. it is VERY shady there, and the planting would be close to the house, so I'm not sure what will work. I'd like to do a mixed-height planting (no higher than 5 feet, though), fairly low-maintenance, ideally plants that are native to the upper midwest (northern illinois). the area is about 20 feet by 4 feet.

I'd also like to do some along our back fence, to catch the water from the backyard neighbors before it comes down the slope. it's a pretty sunny spot, pretty well drained. I'd like to do some native (prairie?) plants back there. It's a really big area where I'd do it -- probably 70 x 5 feet.

So I guess I'm looking for advice about types of plants that would work for these situations: 1) shady, poorly-drained soil, and 2) mostly sunny, well-drained soil -- native plants, LOW COST, fairly low maintenance. Also, when to plant... this is my first year as a homeowner and I'm not sure when these things should go in the ground. I'd most likely do some this spring, and some this fall.

Old 03-24-08, 04:04 PM
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Twelvepole gave an excellent answer to a question similar to yours just the other day...contact your county co-op. You can read more at:

Old 03-31-08, 06:20 PM
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Personally I would use either a curtain drain or a swale to deal with this water.

Plants will take care of some of the water, but will probably not take away all of it. Drains will remove all of it.

You could excavate a small swale to remove the surface water from the property. Or you could excavate down placing a drain pipe in the bottom, and filling to near the surface with drain rock. A layer of geotextile may be used to divide the drain rock from the soil place on top.

The drain should be outlet to an appropriate stormwater drain.

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