Retention Ponds & Buffer Gardens

Retention Ponds

 A retention pond is an engineered pond/lake used to temporarily hold stormwater runoff, sediments and pollution before the water flows downstream. It is a  best management practice for treatment of stormwater used in urban areas to manage contaminated runoff from roofs, paved surfaces and managed turf areas.

Retention ponds tend to be large and because of that they often are considered a community amenity. They help control the water quantity. Stormwater flows in, is stored, and gets discharged slowly through an outlet structure into the stream system, reducing downstream flooding and protecting stream channels. 

They also Improve the water quality; sediment, pollution and trash are reduced through natural processes such as biological uptake, decomposition, and settling before water reaches the stream system.

Retention Pond Buffer Gardens

Buffer Gardens are located between land and water help filter pollutants and improve water quality. Buffers absorb excess runoff and nutrients such as phosphorus, a culprit behind algae blooms.

Benefits of Buffer Gardens

Provide these aesthetic, time-saving and money-saving benefits:

  • Saving as much as 48% in maintenance costs as compared to traditional landscaping
  • Spending less time on high-maintenance lawn care such as mowing, weeding and fertilizing–that means more leisure time for you!
  • Preventing erosion, which is vastly more cost-effective than repairing shoreline
  • Enhancing your view of the lake or pond by framing it with plants, grasses, shrubs and trees to render your scene even more picturesque
  • Creating a meandering path to the shore, incorporating the cherished element of unfolding and expanse in your landscape plan
  • Attracting birds, butterflies and other wildlife

Native plants, grasses, shrubs and trees are preferable. Native plants are well-suited to your soil type and climate, making them remarkably hardy. This saves you money from having to replace plants that perish. Native plants are naturally drought-resistant, very low maintenance and pest repellent. They also attract diverse plant and animal life. Your yard will be teeming with beautiful birds and butterflies! The roots of native plants are deeper than those of grass. Thus, they are far superior in absorbing water, preventing erosion, plus reducing and cleansing runoff. Native plants, grasses, shrubs and trees stop pollution from reaching the water. They trap sediments and absorb excess nutrients such as phosphorus.

Chesapeake Master Gardeners has put together two different presentations you can download. 

Click here to download: Rentention Pond & Buffer Garden Instructions

Click here to download: Solutions to Common Issues with Retention Ponds




Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Interim Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.