Wetlands and water bodies

Wolfram Kircher

Introduction

This chapter describes the design and establishment of naturalistic plantings for wetlands and water bodies. Although, in many ways, wetland vegetation is relatively straightforward to establish, it is also perhaps the least developed in terms of the range of options that are available to designers. There is a tendency to work with a very limited range of species and vegetation types. This chapter not only intends to widen the aesthetic and ecological scope of designed wetland plantings but also aims to promote a wider range of opportunities for such plantings. The main focus is on vegetation— information describing the technical construction of artificial water bodies can be found in the relevant literature, for example in Agate (1976), Archer-Wills (2002), Hagen (1995), Eppel (1996) and Niesel (2002), and technical landscape architecture terms comply with Evert (2001).

Wetland areas within public open space can be excellent examples of multi-functional landscape planting. Not only can such vegetation be very attractive but it also has high habitat potential. Moreover, with increasing interest in Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS), there is new potential for urban green space to become part of co­ordinated flood prevention and water management schemes. Wetlands not only function as temporary water-storage bodies but also as biological filters, removing impurities from runoff (and possibly ‘grey water’ output from buildings) before joining water courses. Whilst the technology for constructed reed beds is now well known, the visual and habitat dimensions have not, as yet, been explored in urban contexts, and, in particular, the potential ornamental qualities and the potential for wetland planting of such constructed wetlands have not been exploited.