Best Trees for Standing Water Year Round in CT?

meredith10024January 19, 2010

Much of our land in Connecticut (Zone 6, hot in the summer, freezing in the winter) now has standing water year round. (Long story, involving a neighbor who broke drainage pipes that can't be fixed, another who installed a pond raising the water table, etc). A number of the existing trees are dying (I assume from the flooding).

Since the drainage problem can't really be fixed at this point I'm looking for suggestions of trees that can take standing water in Connecticut (ie hot in summer, freezing in winter). I'd prefer coniferous trees that would provide privacy all year. Ideally I'd prefer fast growing trees. And if they don't cost a huge amount, that would be great too (though I understand that's probably a stretch!).

Also wondering if there are any trees that will not just live in standing water but will help solve the problem. Not sure if such a type of tree exists (that helps suck up all the standing water? bamboo maybe?) but I figured if it does exist, this is the place to find out about it.

Thanks! Any suggestions are welcome and appreciated.

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subtropix

While bamboo LOVES water--lots and lots of it, is is NOT tolerant of standing water. In terms of coniferous trees, there's Bald Cypress (Taxodium) and the Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia). Both are hardy in zone 6, Metasequoia though is MUCH faster growing (probably among the fastest growing of trees period). But, they are also both naturally deciduous and will drop their leaves in mid to late autumn. Weeping willow (deciduous but in leaf for a very part of the year), will also work. Weeping willows should not be planted too near a home though as their roots are invasive in seeking out water.--From your posting though, I didn't think we were talking about a tree that would be in close proximity to a home. Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 3:09PM
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coltrane

Though not conifers,swamp tupelo,and water tupelo do well in water. Pond cypress, a conifer (similar to bald cypress)also will work well.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 4:20PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

can they actually be planted in standing water ....???

ken

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 5:18PM
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alabamatreehugger(8)

My post didn't show up, but anyways..... how about Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides)?

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 5:22PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I don't understand how you'd plant in standing water as well. Is there a point where there won't be standing water?

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 6:09PM
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coltrane

When I envision planting in standing water, I think of bare root saplings or small containerized plants. Ive heard of people doing this, and I dont see it as far fetched. That is assuming the water isnt more than 6-12" deep.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 7:57PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

Recalling this ecosystem from many years ago studied from another coast, aren't there wetlands up there that have red spruce and balsam fir in them (or did before we ruined them)? My Barbour North American Terrestrial Vegetation is a little sketchy in this regard...

Dan

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 8:28PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

I really can't think of any trees around here that grow in continuously standing water. The whole point of swamps locally really seems to be places where sun perennials and grasses can grow because they aren't shaded out by trees.

Red cedar can grow on hillocks in the swamp, as can red maple, green ash and a few others. Years ago, I made the mistake of planting birch saplings in standing water and killed them all.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 9:46PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Good points on the Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides), red cedar, and others. I always forget about them.

Pin Oak (Quercus Palustris) and Swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) can take dormant season flooding fairly well if the area typically expands and contracts. Over here Pin Oaks hold their brown leaves for a long time giving a screening effect.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 11:51PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

In nature, there are very few trees that live in the water - that is why we study them to learn how they do it and what strategies they use to survive where they are not meant to be.

Inspecting the OP again and thinking about the issue a bit more, it appears as if the description is of a standing shallow pond and not seasonal or periodic inundation. If true and not an annual pond, IIRC only baldcypress grows in standing water, as it has developed structures to get air to its roots. Trees in general are not meant to grow in permanent water, except for a very, very few adapted to do such. Which is why mangroves are so important.

Dan

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 9:49AM
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meredith10024

Wow, thanks for all the fantastic responses!

Just to clarify/answer a few questions above, yes, there are wetlands in the area, and the Aspetuck River and Resevoir are right nearby, so the water table is pretty high to begin with. The area I'm concerned about with the dying trees and standing water never used to be "wetlands," but the broken drainage pipes plus the nearby manmade pond seem to have turned the area into a bit of a pond/swamp in the two or three years.

Because this happened so recently, I'm not exactly sure if there's a time of the year when there is not standing water, and I'm not exactly sure how deep it is. But it's helful to know that these are things I should figure out. Maybe the water will receed in the spring/summer?

I'm just trying to figure out if there are any types of trees more likely to survive there, maintain the "in the middle of the woods" nature of the property that we love so much, and provide some privacy from the road, since it looks like there is no way to get the town and wetlands commission to allow us to fix the broken drainage pipes.

Thanks again and if there's any more info you can share, I do really appreciate it!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 1:50PM
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drrich2(6)

This is just a hair-brained idea, so take it for what it's worth.

Could a circular retaining wall be used to create a raised bed, maybe 3 feet tall and 10 or 20 feet around, enabling a water-loving tree to be planted so it's not drowning, but can easily root down and get all the water it needs?

Perhaps trees with high water utilization might even cut down the flooding of the ground just a tad?

Richard.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 1:56PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

Because this happened so recently, I'm not exactly sure if there's a time of the year when there is not standing water, and I'm not exactly sure how deep it is.

Until you know the key fact of how long the water ponds there, you are unable to plan appropriately to act and overcome significant risk of failure.

Seldom is there anything so cut and dry in a decision-making process (pun intended) as this situation. Very simple. You must either wait until you know, or choose baldcypress because it will survive there either way.

The alternative is creating hillocks like Rich suggests.

Dan

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 2:12PM
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captinconifer14(Zone 6b)

I live in CT, on my way to work I made mental notes...
I saw many Eastern Arborvitae and Eastern White Pines, growing in fairly wet conditions, but not directly in the water.

J

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 4:57PM
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coltrane

Bald cypress is clearly not the only tree that lives and thrives in standing water. This area and many others like it have standing water year round. Water depth can range from 6"-3' depending on rainfall and river levels. Never dry though.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 5:23PM
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gardengal48

I found this list, but I don't guarantee its accuracy:

"All of the trees listed below will flourish in wet areas, even standing water:"

Atlantic White Cedar
Bald Cypress
Black Ash
Freeman Maple
Green Ash
Nuttal Oak
Pear
Pin Oak
Planetree
Pond Cypress
Pumpkin Ash
Red Maple
River Birch
Swamp Cottonwood
Swamp Tupelo
Sweetbay Magnolia
Water Tupelo
Willow

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 9:51PM
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scotjute

I have seen bald cypress seedlings sit dormant under water for 9 months and then start to grow in Sept. once the water level fell below the tree's top.

Not sure of northern limit, but I have seen sweet gum trees growing in about 30" of water where they were flooded about 6 month out of the year.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 10:07AM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

GG, a lot of those trees are for periodic inundation only. I saw numerous green ash in E MT dead in the watercourses, where the river changed in their direction and they couldn't take the extra water. Swamps like coltrane's have hillocks and hummocks that allow tree growth, which gets back to what Richard wrote upthread. The hummocks allow the collar to stay out of the water save for periodic inundation.

Dan

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 10:38AM
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gardengal48

Like I said, I wouldn't guarantee the list's accuracy but the article did not make any differentiation between periodic flooding or standing water. And I did see several of the listed species on various other lists for similar situations.

I'd consider contacting the local Department of Natural Resources (or local equivalent that oversees monitoring wetlands) in that area for location specific choices. In my area, they will list approved wetland species to maintain natural plantings and they will often have the plants themselves available for purchase.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 10:47AM
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hogmanay

I think bald cypress and dawn redwood would give a great "primordial" feel to the area. They can look a bit gothic in winter, but the dawn redwood texture looks really cool to me.

If in your situation, I would purchase inexpensive bare root seedlings from the state or county if they offer them or maybe the Arbor Day Foundation. I would not invest a in BB or containerized trees from a local nursery or even a big box discount chain. At least try out some inexpensive seedlings first maybe :-)

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 11:39AM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

I'd consider contacting the local Department of Natural Resources (or local equivalent that oversees monitoring wetlands) in that area for location specific choices. In my area, they will list approved wetland species to maintain natural plantings and they will often have the plants themselves available for purchase.

Huh. Most of our standard responses are contact the local Extension/DNR office...took two days to bring it up this time. Midwinter doldrums? El Niño? Torpor before Olympics? ;o)

or maybe the Arbor Day Foundation.

I support them and travel to speak at their events because I believe in what they do, but no. Better ways to go than their stock.

Dan

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 11:47AM
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gardengal48

Here, the DNR is a completely different agency from the extension office and addresses only natural or endangered planting areas - like wetlands - which tend to be highly managed and carefully maintained. Looks like a similar agency for Connecticut is under the Department of Environmental Protection. I'd certainly go to the effort of contacting them to see what they recommend.

Here is a link that might be useful: CN DEP - wetlands

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 1:40PM
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meredith10024

Just wanted to say thanks again for all your help. Can't wait for the snow to stop so I can try out some of your advice. I'll let you know how it goes. And I will certainly reach out to the DEP and DNR to see what they have to say.
Thanks!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 4:14PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

There's also the Connecticut's Conservation Districts organization which could be helpful.

Claire

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 5:16PM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

You seem to have closed off solving the water problem in the first place, but are you sure there is no potential to do this? I don't advocate suing or siccing regulators after a neighbor, but I would also be hopping mad if I had a neighbor who created a pond on my property. Is there any ability to install drainage on your land to carry the water away? Perhaps you could volunte er the flooded part of your property as a dumpsite for topsoil removed from other places or disposal of compost and raise it to a level that you won't be flooded, then could go with moisture loving trees. And this should all be done at the neighbors' expense at a minimum.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2010 at 2:47AM
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johnstaci(Z5/6 NW MO)

I planted several dozen bald cypress in 3 ponds we had built prior to them being filled with water. Eventual permanent water depth ranged from a few inches to around 4 ft. Most were seedlings from the conservation dept that were around 3-4 ft tall. Have about a dozen in each pond that are still doing well after 4 yrs. Beaver have cut on some but they resprout with vigorous growth. Also planted some dawn redwood. The ones along the shoreline are doing great. Not sure about the survivial of the DR out in the water - they are too far out to tell the difference between them and the cypress. Have planted some under water, but it is difficult to keep them rooted. Worth giving it a try, though. Am guessing you'll get some to survive and flourish.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2010 at 11:44PM
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