Size: The size of a pond or wetland is variable. Ponds are generally less than 20 acres in size and can be as small as eight feet across and one to two feet deep. Wetlands tend to be on a larger scale, because of their topography and purpose for water retention and filtration.
Light: Full sun (six hours minimum) is recommended. However, very shallow ponds may heat up, if in full sun, causing stress to plants and animals. This factor is especially true in small, manmade or pond “kits.” Additional floating plants can help to keep the pond cool.
Water: Water levels in artificial ponds may need to be monitored, especially during times of drought. Additional water may need to be added to maintain plant and animal life. In naturally occurring ponds and wetlands, rainfall and snowmelt is usually sufficient. Often these bodies of water are also spring-fed.
Elevation/Topography: Natural ponds and wetlands most often occur as lowlands or depressions. Manmade or artificial ponds may be placed in any somewhat level area. A slight incline might be added or used to make the pump’s circulation of water more interesting.
Soil: Ponds are characterized by silty loam and clay soils, while wetlands often have a combination of silt, clay, loam or Houghton muck.
Plant Materials: The plants characteristic of ponds and wetlands include moisture-loving plants, some of which are totally submerged, partially submerged, float on the surface or favor the shoreline and commonly include algae, grasses, sedges, rushes, water lilies and forbs. All plants should be carefully selected and evaluated for wildlife attractiveness. Plants that are adapted for erosion control may be of benefit for shoreline plantings. Plant plugs are preferred over seeds for ease of establishment and better results. As plants mature and seed fall occurs, the pond/wetland landscape will fill in. See plant list.
Planting and Maintenance: In ponds, submerged and emergent plants are often contained in pots filled with clay soil and topped with several inches of pea gravel to hold in the soil. Marginal plants can be tucked in among the surrounding rocks at the edge and even do well in a few inches of water. Floating plants are merely scattered on the top of the water. Wetland plants are planted in moist soil to a depth that is about one inch below the crown and tamped in. Excess growth of floating plants may occur. Periodically skim off excess plant material. Also, monthly, prune dying plant material. In the spring, remove decaying plant debris that may have accumulated in the bottom of the pond.