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Past Articles Library | Trees | 3 Showy Trees for Wet Areas in Your Landscape

Ever homeowner has that little wet spot in their lawn or landscape that they do not know that to do with.  If it is really wet, consider turning it into a rain garden.  But if the area is just moist, think about planting one of these show stopping trees.  Not only will they thrive in this moist environment, they will also add unique texture to your landscape.


Birch trees are valued by may landscape designers for their unique bark, which is showcased year round, and their yellow fall foliage.  But before you jump in a dig the hole for this lovely tree there are a few things one needs to consider.

  • Birches in the wild typically live 40to 50 years but those planted in landscapes normally live up to20 years of age.  It is not uncommon for them to die prior to this 20 year mark.
  • While birches do like a moist soil, they do not like to have wet feet or their roots constantly wet or standing in water.  If you have this type of environment, consider planting a River Birch or Heritage River Birch.
  • Height can be a problem with these trees since they can reach a mature size of 40 to 50 feet.  Avoid planting your tree under power lines.  While they can be trimmed, they will never look the same.
  • Birches are shallow rooted trees.  In doing so, they are very sensitive to compacted soil.  To protect these roots, always lay down 2 to 4 inches of mulch around the tree.   Since the roots expand out into the soil to the width of the tree canopy, make sure to extend the mulch to 3 feet out for a young tree and 6 feet for a mature tree.
  • Birch trees like a pH of 5.0-6.5.  If you have a more alkaline soil, do not give up on this species.  White –barked birches actually do very well in both slightly acidic and alkaline environments.

Pussy Willow

Pussy willow is more commonly known in the early spring as it begins to produce blooms that are often forced indoors.  What many may not know is that these little puffs of white, which are referred to as buds or catkins, is actually male blooms.   In this species the tree is dioecious, which means there are male and female trees.  An easy way of telling them part is the time of blooming.  Males always bloom first in the season.

What is actually funny about this tree is the translation of its name.  The North American name is Salix discolor while the European version is Salix caprea.  This later name can be loosely translated to mean “goat willow.”

If you know someone who has a pussy willow tree, explore the option of getting a start from them.  The process is simple and can be done as part of a pruning schedule.

To start your own begins with finding a male tree.  Once you find the tree, look at the branches and find one that has new growth that is about the diameter of a pencil and at least a foot long.  After you have found that perfect branch, remove it by cutting it at an angle.  This is not only healthy for the tree since it prevents the branch from rotting due to water pooling on the cut.  The angle also aids the cut portion by creating a surface that is easily pushed through the soil.

Now that the cut has been made, it is time to root it.  At this point, you have two choices.  One, to plant the cutting in the ground by pushing the cut branch far enough into the ground to the point that the cut can hold itself up while allowing a few nodes to peak above the soil.  The second choice requires one to place it in a vase of water until roots form.  Once that happens, plant outside in your chosen location but choose wisely.  This tree loves water and is an invasive species so do not plant near a septic system.

Corkscrew Willow

The corkscrew willow is a tree that graces the landscape with a 4 season display.  It starts out in the spring when the buds appear on the tree.  In early summer these buds open up to display elegant green leaves that will turn yellow in the fall.  Once the winter winds blow, the reason for this name appears, which is indicated by the corkscrew nature of these branches.  As the branches grow up, they begin to twist in several directions and doing so creating a corkscrew pattern.

Corkscrew willows are fast growers that can top 30 feet but they are not a long living species.  Also, they have been known to cause damage when planted up against a home, sidewalk or water source so choose your planting location carefully.

They tolerate many different types of soil including loam, clay or sand.  They are also very flexible when it comes to their sunlight requirement, which is full sun to partial shade.

This tree does have two pests, which will not kill the tree but can be unsightly.  Gypsy moth is the first pest you will see in the early spring to early summer.   This moth will first appear as little caterpillars that are making a meal of the leaves.  At this point, do not apply any form of insecticide instead use a stick bands around the truck.  As the young climb up the tree, they will be stuck on the stick bands.  At the end of the summer, remove the bands and throw away.

The second pest that can be found on this tree is aphids.  While under normal circumstance, this pest can cause damage; this is not case when one is dealing with the corkscrew willow.  They simply lay their eggs in the lower leaves of this tree.  If you do not see the aphids but ants, be reassured that you do have aphids.  There is a beneficial relationship between aphids and ants where ants care for the young and aphids reward the ants with a sweet treat.

So this year, do not frown down upon that wet spot, instead turn it into a show piece with one of these trees.

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