To create a mini wetland, plants do not require standing water, which can be surprising to many people. In fact, wetland plants can survive in an area that seems dry most of the growing season.
Simply put, a mini wetland is any area where soil is covered or saturated with water for at least two to three weeks per growing season. Basically, anywhere in a yard where water accumulates faster than it can be absorbed or drain away can serve as an ideal location. Most areas are covered with water for four weeks or less during the warmest months.
Wetlands, also known as marshes, include different grasses, cattails, and other herbaceous vegetation. Wooded wetlands, which have mostly shrubs and trees, are called swamps.
Homeowners must take into account the saturation of the soil and the length of time the area is wet when selecting wetland plants. Many small wetland plants can grow quickly in the wet, spring soil but may disappear in the heat of the summer when the soil dries up. Bulrushes, cattails, jewelweed, and cardinal flowers like places where the wet and dry periods alternate. These plants will also survive flooding if most of the leaves are not immersed in the water. Water lilies and pond weeds like to grow in permanently flooded ares.
As for new wildlife establishing their habitats, toads and tree frogs will lay eggs and the pollywogs will mature where water is available for about three to four weeks. Other frogs need more time. Permanent water usually means bullfrog pollywogs and small fish take over and stop the reproduction of most other toads, frogs, and salamanders. Top choices in wetland plants are pickerelweed, arrowhead plant and cattails.
In the end, a mini-wetland can be a unique and beneficial addition to any yard or garden.