En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
10 ratings

Tuesday - July 21, 2009

From: Grand Haven, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Water Gardens
Title: Plants for retention ponds in Grand Haven, MI
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I am president of a condo association. We have three retention ponds on the property. From two of them we pump water for irrigation so the water level goes up and down. We are going to try to stabilize the shore to stop the erosion, but I am trying to find out about plants that can live with wet and dry feet. Non-invasive, and preferably something that will grow tall enough to break up the sightline from the water to the shore, to help keep the geese off the lawn. I know that is is a separate issue.


Luckily for us, there has already been an excellent answer to virtually the same question, the previous one coming from White Lake, MI in the southwest part of Michigan, Oakland County. We feel that is close enough to Grand Haven, on the southeast side of Michigan, Ottawa County, that the same information should apply, including the plant selections. Previous answer to White Lake.

In terms of keeping the geese off of the lawn, we have had questions about geese destroying gardens before, as well. We are not sure if any of the plants suggested in the previous answer were grasses tall enough to serve as something of a barrier to the geese, so we are going to find some native grasses that can tolerate wet or dry soils and list them for you.

Grasses Native to Michigan

Calamagrostis canadensis (bluejoint) - 3to 5 ft. tall, sun, part shade or shade

Carex stipata (owlfruit sedge) - 2 to 3 ft. tall, wet soil to standing water, sun

Carex vulpinoidea (fox sedge) - wet or moist soil,sun

Juncus torreyi (Torrey's rush) - wet or moist soil, sun

Phragmites australis (common reed) - 3 to 6 ft., wet or moist soil, sun

Scirpus atrovirens (green bulrush) - 3 to 6 ft. tall, wet soil, sun

Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani (softstem bulrush) - wet soil, sun

Spartina pectinata (prairie cordgrass) - 3 to 6 ft., wet soil, sun

Calamagrostis canadensis

Carex stipata

Carex vulpinoidea

Juncus torreyi

Phragmites australis

Scirpus atrovirens

Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani

Spartina pectinata






More Water Gardens Questions

Cover oak roots with a pond from Round Rock TX
December 22, 2012 - Hello! I have looked for this answer. We have 2 huge old beautiful live oaks. One is very close to the patio and house, and the other is about 20 feet of the house. Thus, part of their root systems ar...
view the full question and answer

Plants for freestanding water in Oklahoma
July 28, 2013 - I have an overflowing gutter and the ground below becomes a muddy hole. I'd like to put a basin or pot in/or above the ground with a rain chain. Are there any plants--shrubs or otherwise that flouris...
view the full question and answer

Deer Resistant Pond Plants
March 14, 2013 - I am looking for deer resistant aquatic plants to use around a natural swimming pond in San Marcos, TX. The plants will be used to filter the water in a separate section of the pond. There will be a p...
view the full question and answer

Plants for NY wetland yard
April 30, 2011 - We have standing water in our yard for the entire spring and sometimes summer if it's a rainy one. We dug a ditch and found that our yard has a natural spring, which explains a lot. I need to know ...
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers for a pond in MO
September 10, 2011 - I have a spring fed pond in Missouri and would like to plant perennial wildflowers in the area around it. Are there any that would do better or others that are not recommended? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center