River Birch vs Weeping Willow for wet area

mickeddie(6)April 26, 2007

Hi,

A part of our yard gets very wet during rainstorms and does not dry out for days afterwards. Our landscaper had suggested a weeping willow for the area since those trees really suck in water. Yes, it will get very big - in about 20 years. He said it would be a good quick start to keeping our yard dry and we can revisit cutting it down if/when it gets too big. The tree will be planted about 15' away from 2 houses.

Another option is the River Birch which also gets big, but not as wide. It is good for wet areas, but my landscaper said it would not be as good as the WW. He said the Willow leafs out earlier in the spring and drops its leaves later in the fall than the birch, so it would be sucking the water down for more months than the Birch.

Which tree would you choose? I really want to do something because each time it rains, our yard is muddy for up to a week and no one can play outside.

Thanks so much.

Michelle

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quirkyquercus

Yeah they thought planting trees would dry out the everglades too you know. Hey, if that's the purpose of planting the tree, don't waste your time. I'd go with the River birch, it's one of my favorite trees, much better than th weeping willow. Those are nice too but very weak wooded and don't always live too long. Just because it's a wet ground doesn't mean the birch will like that spot. They tolerate some flooding and need full sun.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 2:51PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

I wouldn't expect the trees to do much about drying the area out - you need to dig and direct the drainage to do that, or bring in fill and raise the soil levels, with attention to drainage. But, River birch and willows will both grow in wet soil, as long as it isn't always soggy. If it isn't always wet there, they are good choices. There ARE a bunch of other trees and shrubs, not to mention perennials, etc., that wil also grow in wet soil. Just look up swamp, riparian or bog plants. Just because it is wet doesn't meain it has to stay bare, nor that you are limited to only 2 trees.

I would go with the River birch 'Heritage' or 'Duraheat' - the bark is whiter than the specie's. They are also less wide than the WW. My father planted a number of the species on the E side of his house in 1990 - they are now over the top of the tall 2 stories so about 30-35' tall and about the same wide for the clumps, and about 20-25' wide for the single-trunked ones. They were planted about 10' to 20' from the house. My brother lives there now - he fairly constantly picks up small twigs and branches after heavy wind or rain, but you would do the same with the weeping willow. He had to trim some larger limbs away from the side of the house about 4 years ago - I can't say if my father did so before he died in '98. They get afternoon shade there, from the house and garage.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 3:30PM
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spruceman

The weeping willow, especially the golden weeping willow, which is one of my favorite trees is not as short lived or weak, in my experience, as some suggest. But, I think it is too large a tree for the place you have in mind.

--Spruce

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 9:02PM
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lynbornman

I love weeping willows but I don't think you have the right space for them...too close to houses. I also would not recommend planting something you may have to cut down in 15-20 years. That is so many years you will have lost and could have been growing a more permanent tree. I personally do not like river birch although I have one because my husband loves them and forced me to get one. I think they are weak, short lived and when they lose one of their branches in a bad storm they never look the same. I also think they are way overplanted. Around here almost every subdivision house has a specimen river birch in their front yard or front bed. I would consider a bald cypress. They are quite pretty and will grow pretty fast in the conditions you are describing. I agree with all the others though that your isssue is probably best fixed by digging some trenches and drain pipes.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 10:03PM
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vancleaveterry

I agree with the suggestion of bald cypress.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 11:23PM
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garden_obsessed(5)

My inlaws have a weeping willow and it's an extremely messy tree. Given the choices I would choose the River Birch but I also like the idea of the Bald Cypress. However, I don't agree with the idea of planting a tree in the location you described for the purpose you described.

The reason I say this is because if you have a lot of water there already for a period of years, and this area is 15 feet from your house, I would have to wonder about the condition of your foundation. I don't know how old your house is but lots of water for many years by the foundation can cause it to fail (rot/crumble). Tree roots invade the damage causing even more damage and expense. Even if your foundation is good, a tree like a willow and probably even the river birch can have invasive roots and can cause damage planted so close to your house.

Repairs to your foundation caused by water and/or tree roots, planting and maintaining a tree, removal of an adult tree, the frustration of clogged gutters (from litter), the potential problems of a tree or large tree limb falling on the house from lightning or high winds because it was planted too close to the house, all of this seems to be very expensive and time consuming. I wouldn't want the risk and hassle. The best thing is for you to redirect the water to a proper drainage site with draintile or another similar type of solution. It is much less expensive and ultimately much less of a hassle. You would be much happier with the results.
Best of luck,
G.O.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 11:58PM
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yatesd(z6 PA)

It is my understanding that Willows have extremely aggressive root systems. Maybe it will help with the moisture, but it will most likely hurt your foundation.

My vote is for the River Birch, but don't expect miracles. I think it will be a good choice because they are relatively narrow.

--
Doug

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 9:50PM
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wisconsitom

Thuja also tolerate high moisture conditions and are seldom the victims of storm damage of any consequence. In your zone, the' Green Giant' cultivar could work. And these trees, as much as any, like to drink up a lot of water. Properly sited, one or more of these could be good, permanent additions to the landscape.

I like the golden weeping willow a lot, but as Spruce mentioned, doesn't sound like this spot would accomadate its' ultimate spread.

+oM

    Bookmark   April 28, 2007 at 8:13PM
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brandon_2010

I did the same thing with my river birch. I planted it in a spot in the yard where water was pooling up. It works the water is gone these trees really suck up alot of water. The first 3 years was a struggle for it though I think it was to much water but once it took off the water hasn't came back. But it did kill all the grass under it and its a messy tree everytime the wind blows I get twigs everywhere and its huge not sure if you would want it within 15 of any house.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 10:26PM
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JIrene1(8)

We have a similar problem in our yard - poorly draining clay soil, coupled with an underground spring we discovered recently! We had a weeping willow ~35-40' from the spring for many years, but due to it's age and development of hollows that raccoons decided to live in, we had to remove it. We are actually now considering putting in a new one ~10' from the spring, because it did seem to make a difference with the standing water issue. However, we spent thousands having professionals trim the old one every couple of years, because it was so huge that it's branches hung over our neighbor's garage and dropped debris all over it. So, while it gets my vote for the water issue, the maintenance costs and potential home for critters aspect are not fun, which is why we're considering a river birch too.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 5:21PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Fifteen feet huh...

That weeping willow will require you to buy a chainsaw and start practicing now for it will need removed in the next decade as it rubs up against your house. I can go measure my neighbor's ten year old weeping willow. Its a great tree. My kid can climb it. Just it is HUGE.

Would you guys trust a fella like Metasequoia 'Ogon' there? regular Metasequoia would need limbed up almost for sure, Ogon seems more narror...what's the cool new improved 'Ogon' cultivar? They grow well in St Louis zone 6, ask me or the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Bald cypress is another classic swamp tree. It won't die if you ever improve the drainage as it grows in normal yards as well.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 11:31PM
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