Springs and seeps are more than just a nuisance wet spot in the landscape; they’re considered types of wetlands and are an expression of groundwater flowing upward and surfacing on land. Sometimes springs and seeps flow after a deluge of rain while others, like popular springs in Florida, continuously produce large quantities of water year-round. Springs emanate (originate) from a single point in the landscape and have a defined channel, whereas seeps have more diffuse distribution across wider areas. Whether surface water becomes a spring or a seep depends on how much pressure is underground. Higher pressures will result in springs, whereas low pressure will likely produce seeps. While seeps may not be as diverse as springs when it comes to flora and fauna, they may harbor unique plants and animals not found in springs. When springs and seeps are located in sunny areas, both can be quite productive with a variety of aquatic plants, invertebrates, and amphibians. For plant enthusiasts, seeps can support a diverse array of carnivorous plants. Seeps and springs are also beneficial because they provide water to headwater streams, ultimately providing the water flow to create larger river systems. They’re also essential during the cold winter months because their movement often keeps water from freezing. This serves as a refuge or drinking water source for wildlife.
Do you have a spring or seep on your property? Consider enhancing it with water-loving plants like pitcher plant (Sarracenia rubra), Savanna iris (Iris tridentata), and maidenhair fern (Adiantum spp.). Most importantly, create a no-mow zone along the boundary and avoid filling in the area with sediment, structures, or impervious surfaces. For a complete list of plants, see HGIC 1718, Plants for Damp or Wet Areas.