The best shrubs to plant in a wet area

spiraea image by Alison Bowden from

Gardens can be wet due to excessive rainfall, improper drainage or both. Many shrubs do well in well-drained, moist soils. Few can withstand the diseases caused by pooled water. Assess the causes of water accumulation and determine the best plants for the wet area. Investigate the quality of the soil. Heavy, compacted clay soils retain water and are not suitable for plants. These soils must be worked and amended to allow proper drainage. Don't be discouraged. Thought and preparation allow a variety of shrubs to thrive in wet areas.


Don't forfeit beauty for practicality. Azaleas bloom throughout spring and summer and provide colourful fall foliage. With over 800 species available, it is possible to find a suitable variety for your landscape and taste. Because the plants have shallow roots they do well in moist soils. Avoid providing overhead irrigation as this can cause the leaves to become diseased. Plant these shrubs in partial shade and mulch in spring.


Willow bushes are fast-growing shrubs known for their foliage and not their flowers. The foliage is green with a blue-silver underside. The shrubs flourish in wet soils and full sun. Their branches bend with the breeze and are aesthetically pleasing in windy conditions. Because of their fast growth, seasonal pruning is required. After several years, rejuvenation pruning is necessary. In this drastic pruning method, plants are cut down to ground level, allowing the shrub to retain a compact shape. Willow shrubs have practical uses. They prevent soil erosion along river banks and other bodies of water. Their height adds to their use as a privacy screen.


bamboo image by Richard J Thompson from

Ornamental bamboo is a unique hedging material for wet areas. Stalks range in height from 1.5 to 12 m (5 to 40 feet) depending on the species. Horticulturists from the University of Hawaii suggest fernleaf bamboo, which grows between the ranges of 6 to 12 m (20 to 40 feet), and the smaller silverstripe fernleaf bamboo, 1.5 to 3 m (5 to 10 feet), for ornamental garden use. These varieties of bamboo are visually appealing. Bamboo plants are more than plain green stalks. These varieties have small, delicate leaves. The silverstripe variety has striped leaves. Prepare your soil before planting bamboo. The plant does not prosper in compact, heavy soils. Work compost and organic materials into your wet soil. The organic matter helps retain moisture, aerates and lightens the soil.


Spicebush grows wild in swampland and other wet areas. It has been called "the forsythia of the wild" because of its early spring blooms. The spring blooms produce full yellow flowers, which turn to red berries in fall. The green foliage turns deep yellow in autumn. This is a stunning specimen in northern climates. This is a low-maintenance landscape addition.

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