A theoretical approach of a hierarchical spatial framework concept for spring habitats is presented in this paper. The concept is based on existing classifications of running water and on empirical studies of spring ecosystems. Hierarchical spatial categorisation is applied to study spring areas of forest ecosystems in low mountain ranges of Germany. A spatial concept for springheads is designed to aid the illustration and understanding of functional, structural and process relationships on different scales. Here, multiple geographical dimensions and hydrological scales and their terms are compared in an integrated system. This integrated approach is needed if a water body is to be studied as an ecosystem rather than just a hydrological system. The goal of this hierarchical spatial framework is to establish a conceptual foundation for the study of fauna-microhabitat relationships and for the analysis of the substrate preference of the invertebrate fauna of spring ecotones. This paper presents a surface water typology for patchy forest springs with different habitat types. Most of these habitat types of the 152 investigated springs are dominated by organic substrate types as micro habitats (74.7 %) with subdominant mineral substrate types. Therefor the most dominant habitat type (HT) is “CPOM dominated, Psammopelal abounded” HT (19.7 %), followed by the HT “Macrophytes dominated, Psammopelal abounded” (13.2 %) and the HT “CPOM dominated, Microlithal abounded” (9.9 %). More underrepresented habitat types are pure mineral substrate types (10.5 %) like the HT “Psammopelal dominated” (5.9 %). There were also less artificial habitat types (7.2 %), because the study focused on undisturbed spring habitats inside the field survey.