The water was utterly still, glass-like, and the deepening sky reflected off its surface as the fog rose slowly and tumbled towards the shore. The water made not a sound as the wind fizzled to a whisper, and the lake and the sky and the shore seemed as one, devoid of any earthly delineation.

Water is a magnificent and powerful resource that should be entirely respected, whether it’s a body of water or precipitation. Water is a life source for people, plants and animals. It makes up 71% of the earth, 70% of our bodies and 80-90% of a plant.

But water can also be detrimental, especially when not allowed to drain properly. Many plants, including trees and shrubs, do not like wet feet, and although they may look ok above the soil, their root structure may tell a different story. In many cases, after years of poor drainage, the tree or shrub will eventually die. In other cases, extreme root decay can lead to the tree falling over in heavy snow or high winds. Neither situation ideal.

Additionally, mowing when the grass/ground is too wet can be hazardous to the operator as well as the lawn. Mowers can leave ruts, and tear grass blades. Further still, clumping can occur, which is bad for both the mower and lawn, and the results are generally less than neat and tidy.

One of the most common and easily rectifiable issues is gutters and downspouts. Gutters and downspouts should be cleaned and cleared of all debris on a regular basis. Downspouts should be pointed away from the home, and in some cases, extended, so water doesn’t pool or puddle around the foundation and/or plant material.

Drainage issues that persist should be evaluated by professionals. In some cases, drain tiles and drains must be installed. Other times, landscapes must be re-graded, so water drains properly and legally without impacting neighbors or the community.

Consider looking to plants that thrive in moist soils. Their root systems can also help fight erosion, so additional soil and organic matter stay in place and won’t wash away. Redtwig Dogwood, Red Maple and Eastern Cottonwood have a pretty high tolerance for moisture as do Winterberry, Virginia Sweetspire, and Oakleaf Hydrangea. Milkweed, Astilbe, Korean Feather Reed Grass, Ligularia, Cardinal Flower and Lobelia are also excellent choices.

Got a drainage problem? Reach out to Sweeney’s! We can help address water issues or suggest plant material that will thrive in these troubled areas.

Plant of the Week


Fast growing, deciduous shrub with unusual flowers that resemble white pin cushions with a lovely honey-scent, bloom early to mid Summer amongst glossy, dark green foliage.  Flower heads mature to hard, spherical fruits that are an important food source for wildlife.  Prefers sun to partial shade and moist soil.  Grows 8-12′ tall and 6-8′ wide.  Attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators.  Excellent for rain gardens and areas that tend to flood.

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.”

-Loren Eiseley

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney