For achieving the economical and efficient configuration of constructed wetlands (CWs), a simulated device of vertical flow CWs was used to investigate the effects of different volume ratios of substrates to two cold-resistant plants on pollutant concentrations as well as their ratios in effluent under different inflow domestic sewage concentrations. The average removal rates (ARRs) of ammonia nitrogen, total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus were 82.7%, 84.9% and 80.6% respectively in the treatments with zeolite but no plants, which increased by 22.6%, 20.8% and 14.9% compared with those without zeolite and plants. However, in the treatments with zeolite and planted grasses, the ARRs of the three pollutants were over 90%, and those of chemical oxygen demand were lower. The removal rates of ammonia nitrogen, TN and total phosphorus had negative correlations with C:N and N:P ratios and positive correlations with the C:P ratios. Increasing the ratio of zeolite to soil from 1:1 to 2:1 had no significant effects in the removal efficiency. It was suggested that planting Lolium perenne or Poa annua on the substrate with a zeolite to soil volume ratio of 1:1 could be considered as the optimum combination to purify the domestic sewage in north rural areas of China.

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