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The Pesky Wet Spot in Your Lawn

If I had a dollar for every time a client called this year about a wet spot in their lawn, I’d probably be able to adopt another dog. Fortunately for our clients, there are several ways to address this common issue!

But first, why is there suddenly a wet spot in your lawn? A couple of things can cause this. The removal of vegetation, especially large trees, can result in damp areas. This is because something like a tree can take up several gallons of water a day. Without that mature tree, where does all that water go? Also, trees and other native vegetation intercept precipitation, slowing its fall and allowing it to infiltrate into the ground. One study has even found that a single deciduous tree can intercept around 500 gallons per year!

Pesky wet spots may also appear after a rainy season, especially during the dormant months, when plants aren’t taking up as much water, and the water table may be high. When this happens, the water table can be expressed as seeps or springs in your lawn. Another result of a rainy season is saturated soils. These soils don’t have room for more rain and can cause increased runoff.

If your lawn seems to be struggling with too much water, try choosing native plants that are adapted to the site conditions and can also typically tolerate periods of rain or drought without irrigation. This diverse landscape can help intercept rainwater and allow water to soak into the ground slowly. Doing this can lead to fewer wet spots, reduce the need for irrigation, and create a beautiful yard! There is a range of native perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees from which you can choose. For example, if you have room for something that might grow upwards of 35 ft. high and 25 ft. wide, consider planting an American Holly (Ilex opaca). The double benefit here is that it is attractive to our native wildlife, including pollinators! Want something smaller that provides color to your landscape? Plant beautiful Swamp Sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius), Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis), or Bee Balm (Monarda). Or are you interested in something more basic with little maintenance? South Carolina has some wonderful native grasses like Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium).

Bee Balm is a perennial plant that attracts our native pollinators with its showy colors that come out July to September. Karen Jackson, ©2020, Clemson Extension

Bee Balm is a perennial plant that attracts our native pollinators with its showy colors that come out July to September.
Karen Jackson, ©2020, Clemson Extension

Swamp Sunflower can reach heights of up to 8 feet! It can be used in a number of stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) including swales, shoreline buffers, and rain gardens. Karen Jackson

Swamp Sunflower can reach heights of up to 8 feet! It can be used in a number of stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) including swales, shoreline buffers, and rain gardens.
Karen Jackson, ©2020, Clemson Extension

For more plant ideas, see HGIC 1718, Plants For Damp Or Wet Areas, and the Carolina Yards Plant Database.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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