Many yards have some place that water seems to drain slowly or even have standing water for a few days after a rain. You can curse these spots, regrade your yard to move the water out, or you can take advantage of your luck and plant a rain garden.
Low areas in the lawn are always a problem as it makes mowing difficult. The lawn mower will leave wheel tracks through the mud and the situation seems to get worse and worse. It is best to give up the grass completely in a low spot. In this post, I will give you some idea of the native plants that work well in Durham NC. You can find similar plants native to your area online.
If your low spot is large, you might want to plant water loving trees such as River Birch, Sweetbay Magnolia, Serviceberry, and Bald Cypress.
For shrubs that like damp areas, you can plant Inkberry Holly, Sweetshrub, Clethera, Illicium, Leucothoe, and Wax Myrtle. Winterberry Holly is a great shrub for these locations and they have berries that help to attract birds.
Hibiscus is a plant with large flowers that loves wet areas. There are the “dinner plate” hibiscus as well as the star hibiscus. Some plants that usually like shade such as Cardinal Flower and Cinnamon Fern will grow in full sun if kept consistently wet. Monarda is a great hummingbird attractor as is the Cardinal Flower. Joe Pye Weed and Swamp Milkweed are great butterfly attractors. Swamp Sunflower and the Native Ageratum are late fall bloomers for wet areas. Turtle head is an unusual looking flower that also likes damp soil. For grasses you can add the rushes, Carex, and Acorus. Louisiana Iris and the Virginia Iris also add vertical elements to the rain garden.
So as you can see, there are a lot of possibilities for a poorly drained area of your yard that are way more attractive than a lawn. In fact, you may even decide to run the downspouts from the gutter for your house and intentionally create a rain garden. Any time you can keep water on your property rather than running into the storm sewer it’s a good thing. I run the downspout water into my garden ponds and the overflow for them is a rain garden. Sometimes dipping a bucket of water out of the pond for a thirsty plant in the summer is easier than dragging a hose out to the garden from the house.