Planting in Wet soggy shaded area

Asked April 21, 2019, 8:22 AM EDT

I have a low spot in my yard that is shady and the soil is always wet. I would like to plant a ground cover but I'm having trouble finding information on plants that will thrive in these conditions. Do you have suggestions?

Midland County Michigan gardening groundcovers horticulture

2 Responses

Thank you for contacting Ask an Expert. Shady and we areas can be difficult planting areas. First of all I would recommend a soil test so you know what soil type and pH you are dealing with. This will help you in selecting plants that will grow well.
Here is a link to obtain one. https://homesoiltest.msu.edu/get-started

You mention that the area is shady. Is it shady year round? Is it a dark shade like from a building or from trees? Is it shady all season? Answers to these questions will help you choose plants that will grow well.

You asked for a ground cover. By "ground cover" do you mean low growing (less than 6 inches) or will a taller ground cover work like 12 inches or above? Your choices depend on the answer to this question.

Here are some links that have suggestions that will work in your area. https://extension.umaine.edu/gardening/manual/plants-wet-soil-shade/
and here is a link on lawn alternatives in case you want something short.
https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/shady_lawn_alternatives

I love ferns and mosses for shady wet areas. If you have some sun in the spring Primula beesiana are gorgeous. Consider adding some large stones to the area. They can really set off your plantings. Also if trees are providing a lot of the shade, having an arborist thin or lift the canopy can give you more light and more plant choices.

I hope this gets you started on making your shady wet area beautiful.


Thank you for contacting Ask an Expert. Shady and we areas can be difficult planting areas. First of all I would recommend a soil test so you know what soil type and pH you are dealing with. This will help you in selecting plants that will grow well.
Here is a link to obtain one. https://homesoiltest.msu.edu/get-started

You mention that the area is shady. Is it shady year round? Is it a dark shade like from a building or from trees? Is it shady all season? Answers to these questions will help you choose plants that will grow well.

You asked for a ground cover. By "ground cover" do you mean low growing (less than 6 inches) or will a taller ground cover work like 12 inches or above? Your choices depend on the answer to this question.

Here are some links that have suggestions that will work in your area. https://extension.umaine.edu/gardening/manual/plants-wet-soil-shade/
and here is a link on lawn alternatives in case you want something short.
https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/shady_lawn_alternatives

I love ferns and mosses for shady wet areas. If you have some sun in the spring Primula beesiana are gorgeous. Consider adding some large stones to the area. They can really set off your plantings. Also if trees are providing a lot of the shade, having an arborist thin or lift the canopy can give you more light and more plant choices.

I hope this gets you started on making your shady wet area beautiful.