What to plant on a creek 'shelf'??

joraines(7 Upstate SC)April 19, 2012

I have what I call a 'shelf' down at our creek which is, of course, sandy and which stays wet all year. I have two Louisiana Iris planted there, a Spiderwort and have just planted Cinnamon Fern and Tiarella. But, there are at least a million baby birch trees I pull up by the handfuls, various grasses and weeds in rampant abundance. Is there something I can plant there that will choke out the weeds? I don't want to plant something invasive such as the Loosestrife's as this creek feeds directly into a river and on into the water system. Thanks for any advice anyone can offer? (And I hope I posted this in the correct spot).

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chas045(7b)

We probably aren't the best place to look. Perhaps 'natural habitat' or 'reclaimed waterway' or similar would be good things to GOOGLE.

However, my own experience with a fake stream would make me suggest Sweet Flag. It is happy in a few inches of flowing water or at the edge. It produces divisions quickly that could be rapidly spread along your beach. However I have no idea if it might cause problems.

I would expect that you might have general problems since the weeds are probably far more adapted and will do to you what you want to do to them.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 7:26AM
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joraines(7 Upstate SC)

Thank you for your reply. I did find a link in another forum to plants well adapted to boggy conditions and printed it out to take with me when I am plant shopping. I am hoping to eventually plant it so densely with water-loving plants, the weeds won't have enough elbow room there. Wish me luck! Just now there are three piles of pulled weeds, tiny saplings and grasses I must cart off to a pile in the woods.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 7:43AM
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chas045(7b)

I have never seen Sweet Flag in regular garden centers. I got mine at a pond store. I paid $15 for a 3gal pot clump. I cautiously divided it into thirds. Looking back, I could have divided it into 20 or more sections.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 8:04AM
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joraines(7 Upstate SC)

We actually have an aquatic plant place nearby and I haven't been able to get there yet (plus my meager part-time job budget doesn't allow for many extravagances) but I am sure they will have some suggestions and various marginal plants. I'll be updating on our progress as we are completing our 175-foot koi pond which runs alongside the creek and continuing to landscape along the creek and around the new koi pond. A long work-in-progress to be sure.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 8:29AM
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annedickinson

Mint!!!!! It spreads fairly quickly, smells great and it chokes out other plants. However, it can get out of hand. If you have some favorite plants, like iris, you might want to install some kind of barrier between the iris and the mint.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 4:22PM
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joraines(7 Upstate SC)

Oh, gosh! Mint does tend to spread! I wasn't aware it would tolerate boggy conditions but as I don't think you can kill it, it probably does! LOL! I only have one plant in the mint family just now, Lemon Balm and it is contained within a hole cut in landscape cloth in my butterfly garden but I do appreciate the suggestion--you are right--it should choke out everything!!!!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 4:34PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

How about watercress?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 8:54AM
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joraines(7 Upstate SC)

I've read a bit about watercress but don't know if I can get it locally. This past Saturday evening, I pulled more of the 'baby' birch trees and dug up some of the nut grass down there and transplanted a few more daylilies and a hosta putting Black Kow in the holes as this is mostly sandy soil mixed with some of our red clay--and some gray clay. I think it's just going to be back-breaking work keeping up with the weeds there and working to eventually get enough things planted that they elbow out some of the weeds. I also love Turtlehead and think it gets enough shade (and enough moisture despite the direct sun it does get) for that to do well. I will certainly study watercress and see if maybe the conditions there would be favorable for it! Thank you for the suggestion!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 10:03AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

If this is a natural creek, I would plant something native....

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 12:47PM
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jeff_al

a very pretty native for such conditions is golden club, orontium aquaticum.
the leaves are bluish-green and those early spathes of bright yellow and white are lovely. mine makes plenty of seeds each season which germinate in the watergarden.
i don't know if anything can keep tree seedlings from populating your area except pulling by hand.
golden club would be a nice addition, though.

Here is a link that might be useful: golden club

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 3:00PM
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joraines(7 Upstate SC)

Thank you for another good suggestion. I hope to visit our local aquatic plant and pond store soon to see what is available and, as you say, native. Since our creek feeds directly into a river, I don't want to plant invasive or non-native species that can become a problem if it gets into the waterways. And I think you're right about pulling the little saplings--unless I spray poison 'wholesale' on the whole creek shelf, I think pulling them up by hand is the only other method.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 3:40PM
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chas045(7b)

Re Watercress: You get a bunch from an upscale grecery store and just spread it out under rocks or something else to anchor it directly in the stream. It will grow roots and take right off on its own. I'm not sure that it will grow up the bank much. It really loves to be in running water. Perhaps it will love a sandy bank? Great in salads!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 3:44PM
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metalinmary

moss and rainbow hoytundai, clover, peacock ferns, ivy, swords, pennywort, umbrella penny, creeping jenny Hope that helps! If you happen to have any water lilies or lotus, I could trade ya!

Here is a link that might be useful: FB

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 6:12PM
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joraines(7 Upstate SC)

I appreciate all of these wonderful suggestions! Some I am familiar with and some I am not but I look them all up to see if they will grow in my zone, do well in my sandy, acidic soil and under the light conditions on this 'shelf'. I wish I had enough plants to trade--hope to get to that point down the road. I'm still very much a fledgling gardener with only the budget to buy one little plant at a time, stick it in the ground with a bit of Black Kow and my hopes and blessings and keep it watered and the weeds from around it. I have been given some water lilies by my brother and a lotus from a local pond owner but both are floating in our still-in-progress koi pond and waiting for me to get containers and planting medium and a bit of fertilizer! Oh, and I do have creeping Jenny planted down there already! Thank you again for the wonderful suggestions.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 8:47PM
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jeff_al

please read about houttuynia cordata and ivy before planting in a natural area. if the ivy mentioned is referring to english ivy, it is considered an extremely invasive plant in your area and i imagine houttuynia is too.

Here is a link that might be useful: houttuynia

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 10:00AM
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joraines(7 Upstate SC)

Yes, we call the houttuynia the 'Hootenanny" plant (incidentally a Hootenanny is a gathering of bluegrass and fiddle players) and I understand it is very invasive in our area and everyone knows the inherent dangers of planting English Ivy--I will have to avoid those two as well as Yellow Loosestrife. I try to research everything I consider planting before purchasing it or accepting it as a gift!!! Especially since this creek feeds into a major river in our area.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 3:15PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Jeff is absolutely right about both plants. They should be banned from sale. Not only are they nearly impossible to kill, they can be very destructive. I have spent hundreds of dollars on herbicides and agonizing hours digging it up after ivy escaped into our yard from a neighbors planting. Another neighbor planted Virginia creeper which is almost as bad. Those two have killed trees, rotted out the fence supports, smothered ornamental plants and caused moisture conditions that cause mildew and fungus to grow on everything including the house siding. The houttuynia is just as difficult to kill.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 3:22PM
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joraines(7 Upstate SC)

I can read some of the invasive plant threads and 'What I wish I had never planted' threads and it can scare you half to death. My in-law's just gave us Evening Primrose and another friend gave us Yellow Archangel lamium. I may regret possessing both. I also have ribbon grass I now despise. Oh, and don't get me started on Vinca wiht the periwinkle bloom and those damnable Carolina Sweetshrub. Our woods are overtaken with the things. I am also finding birch tree offspring to be the very bane of my existence along with the saw briars and poison ivy. We have a 53-acre hay farm and the sections I am trying to improve and landscape may end up whipping me soundly with their love of weeds, poisonous and pricking things.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 4:08PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

I don't know about yellow loosestrife but Purple Loosestrife is devastating, especially in any wetlands. It is banned as a noxious weed most places and will get you a big fine if you grow it or sell it. It destroys habitat not only for other plants but critters too. Then the critters carry seed elsewhere. It is almost impossible to kill once it takes root.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 6:11AM
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