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

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Thursday - June 03, 2010

From: Lansdale, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Trees
Title: Need a tree to grow in the middle of a retention pond in Pennsylvania
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I have a shallow retention pond in my yard in South Eastern Pennsylvania. The pond is used for rainwater runoff and also for natural springs that are located below the surface. If I plant a tree in the center of the pond: 1) Will it survive and grow 2) Will it absorb the shallow water that is usually retained 3) Will it harden the land where the retention pond is and 4) What trees would you recommend if this is possible? Thanks

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants is going to begin with question four: What plants to use? I'm not going to make recommendations since I don't know the size or any particulars about the site, but let me show you how to use our Native Plants Database in order to come up with some possibilities for your yard. Go to the Native Plant Database page and scroll down to the Combination Search Box. Make the following selections; select Pennsylvania under STATE, Tree under HABIT, and Perennial under DURATION. Check Sun under Light Requirement, Wet under Soil Moisture, and click the Submit Combination Search button. You will get a list of 35 species of native plants that meet these criteria and occur in Pennsylvania. Clicking on the name of each plant species will pull up its NPIN page which contains a description, growth requirements, and images. You can select a tree that has the features and is the right size for your yard.  Pay particular attention to the entries for Native Habitat and Soil Description on each page.

I gather that there is always water in the pond because of the springs, so you are going to need a tree that is adapted to growing in wet conditions. The tree will use the water that it needs, but you can't expect it to drain the swamp. You might consider using additional plants to help absorb the water. Having more plants in the area will help firm up the soil.

You can make a similar list for shrubs and/or herbs by making the appropriate selections in the combination search box. 

Here are three trees that may be of interest. For help closer to home, you might contact the folks at the Montgomery County office of the Penn State Cooperative Extension.

Chamaecyparis thyoides (Atlantic white cedar)

Fraxinus pennsylvanica (green ash)

Quercus palustris (pin oak)


Chamaecyparis thyoides

Fraxinus pennsylvanica

Quercus palustris

 

 

 

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