Homeowners with a naturally wet spot, a low area, or a drainage way with clay soil in their yard can benefit from creating a mini-wetland. You can still add wetland plants to a yard even without such a place. Wetlands in a backyard can temporarily store and filter water that runs off water from a roof and yard. A mini-wetland can also provide a home for butterflies, bees, salamanders, toads, frogs, and birds.
To create a mini-wetland, plants do not require standing water, surprising many people. Wetland plants can survive in an area that seems dry most of the growing season.
Simply put, a mini wetland is an area where the soil is covered or saturated with water for at least two to three weeks per growing season. Anywhere in a yard where water accumulates faster than it can be absorbed or drained 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 grasses, cattails, and other herbaceous vegetation. Wooded wetlands, which have shrubs and trees primarily, are called swamps.
Homeowners must consider the saturation of the soil and the length of time the area is wet when selecting wetland plants. Many small wetland plants can overgrow in the moist spring soil but may disappear in the summer heat when the ground dries up. Bulrushes, cattails, jewelweed, and cardinal flowers like places where the wet and dry periods alternate. These plants will also survive to flood if most of the leaves are not immersed in the water. Water lilies and pond weeds like to grow in permanently flooded areas.
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 producing most other toads, frogs, and salamanders.
In the end, a mini-wetland can be a unique and beneficial addition to any yard or garden.