If your house is in a swamp

You may be wondering: “Is my new house in a swamp?” Well, in fact, it might be. Swampland is quite desirable for some building developers, because it is cheap. With top-quality sites being less and less available and more and more expensive, developers look for alternatives.

To protect consumers, and sometimes wildlife, developing swampy areas is often forbidden by local or federal authorities. But money often talks louder than regulations and it’s not rare to see housing complexes being developed in swampland.

Turning a swamp into a site that is good for housing is not a simple task. In fact, it’s often an impossible task. Developers typically use tons of gravel, sand and soil to fill the swamp, but the water that created the swamp originally often keeps accumulating below all the filling material. With all that water sitting in the ground, sometimes quite close to the surface, it doesn’t take big downpours for the water level to reach ground level and to form pools above ground.

Was there ever a swamp here?

Before you buy a new house, be it a newly built house or a previously owned house, ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask the developer or the people selling the house about the yard’s original conditions. By the way, you can also ask about hazardous materials and liquids while you’re at it. Underground oil tanks can prove to be a big problem. Ask local authorities as well. It’s not a question people often think about, but it is a very important question. Trying to sell a house that is surrounded by a soggy yard can be very hard.

If your house is on swampland

So what can you do if you realize that the house you just bought is sitting on a yard that remains wet almost all the time? You can certainly try to fix the problem and get rid of the excess water, but if the developer or builder was not able to do it with big machinery when the plot was not yet built, your chances may be even slimmer.

Try finding ways to make the best of it. And the best way to do that is probably to forget about plants that thrive in drained locations, such as grass, and to go for plants that grow well in wet locations.

The nice thing about plants that like wet locations is that they can drink up a lot of water, so your yard may become less swampy as the plants grow, which will make your yard more enjoyable.

For more information on wet yards, see Lawn drainage problems. For information on plants that grow well in wet locations, see Wet shade plantsWet sun plants, or Rain gardens.