Wetland Plants Serve as Air Purifiers

Wetland Plants Serve as Air Purifiers

Ah, the difference 50 or 60 years can make. Less than a century ago, wetland areas of all sizes were looked at as something to be drained, filled in, or otherwise disposed of. Now, after decades of re-education (and a lot of hard-learned lessons), we know that we were wrong about wetlands. They prevent flooding and are one of the world's most significant habitats of plants and animals. By acting as a filter, they can also stop and reduce the effects of pollution. And this applies to backyards as well the Everglades.

Do You Have A Stagnating Situation On Your Property?

Is it a bare "wet spot" that never dries up? A long-ago abandoned swimming pool project? A "retention pond" caused by runoff? It's not difficult to create situations that form permanent or semi-permanent standing water bodies on a property. But a water body without accompanying vegetation is a water hazard in more ways than one. It can act as a breeding ground for disease-spreading mosquitoes. It can attract non-native and undesirable plants and animals. And this water can move from non vegetated bodies into other parts of a yard and even into a house itself.

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The Rescue

Instead of more drainage or construction to your property, try introducing native wetland plants to that problem wet area. Doing so prevents erosion and flooding, increases water oxygen, and filters toxins from standing water. And planting these plants acts as a welcome mat to beneficial bugs, amphibians, and birds, reducing the presence of harmful insects.

What Should Be Planted?

As region and circumstances will affect planting choices, you should make these selections with input from county extension agents or local nurseries. But general decisions include:

  • 1. Wetland Grasses
    • Plant a grass buffer zone that extends to the lip of the pond or wet area. Gamma grass and sand cordgrass are just two examples that are attractive and prevent erosion. Once your "pioneers" have become established, other backyard wetland plants that do well are:
  • 2. Water's Edge
    • Native plants that grow at the pond's very edge or shallow water include the iris, cattails, and the utterly gorgeous cardinal (which hummingbirds love) flower. These plants draw and feed on pollutants from very wet soil.
  • 3. "Floaters."
    • Natives like basswood and the stunning water lily provide essential cover for animals and clean and purify water by absorbing toxins.
  • 4. Submerged Plants
    • Clusters of underwater plants provide everything from food to cover to "nurseries." They also filter out toxins, help to aerate the water, and prevent the overgrowth of algae. Good native choices include water starwort and curled pondweed.