The aptly named red chokeberry
Pretty and easy to grow (clockwise, from left): Japanese sedge grass, star sedge — or any of the sedges
If you’re living in a more residential than rustic environment (which the term “cul-de-sac” suggests), a meadow might upset any conventional neighbors. Simpler would be to plant a willow tree, or willow shrubs where it’s wet, Delardi suggests. “They’ll do a good job of soaking up the water, and it would look great, too.” Weeping willows are graceful, but if the area is too small for a 50-foot tree (and they can grow 10 feet a year), consider the purpleosier willow (Salix purpurea), a shrub with blue-green leaves on purple-ish stems, that matures at around 15 or 20 feet. Beavers love them, Google reveals, but I imagine there’s not much of a beaver problem in your cul-de-sac.
Among other shrubs that like moist soil are red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia), which reaches about 10 feet, and has small white flowers in spring, purple-red leaves in autumn, and edible red berries that supposedly choke you unless you turn them into jam before eating them. Any of the red-twig dogwoods are pretty, and look great in winter when the leaves fall off to reveal the red branches. They grow from 6 to 10 feet.
If you want to keep it really simple, Delardi suggests Japanese sedge grass — or any of the 4,000 sedges. They’re easy to care for, they crowd out weeds, and they don’t mind if it’s damp. All the plants mentioned prefer full sun, although they can take partial shade.
Good landscaping can add 20 percent to the value of your property, so it’s a worthwhile investment as well as a problem solver, in your case. But if you’re a novice or non-gardener, and you’re adding more than one willow tree, say, it’s worth seeking advice so you don’t wind up with a hodgepodge of plants in places they won’t thrive.