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Besides the obvious importance of pond plants including oxygenating by photosynthesis and being aesthetically pleasing to the eye, plants have many other important roles.

All pond plants have roots in which they absorb a wide array of things from the water. Nitrates, the end products of the natural detoxification of waste from the pond, can rise to a dangerous level if left unchecked. At an excessively high level, this can negatively affect the health of fragile fish but will also help fertilize the annoying algae variety known as blanket weed, neither a good thing. Plants come into the picture because they can take up excess nitrates through their roots as fertilizer, which will in turn take away important nutrients from algae and help keep your pond algae-free naturally. On top of that, plants can create a cushion against any drastic fluctuations in water quality just by absorbing components in the water.

Surface and floating plants will also create shade and shelter for fish from too much sunlight and possible predators. Up to sixty percent coverage for a pond is ideal to keep your pond running smoothly. Plant pond coverage can also help prevent water evaporation from the pond, keep the water cool and provide some food for the fish or other small organisms. Come spawning season, plants provide many sites for fish to lay and fertilize eggs as well as provide safety for the fry and other pond life to develop safely. Submerged plants are also ideal in providing oxygen, food and safety for your pond’s inhabitants.

Choosing Plants

When drawing up plans for a new backyard pond, it’s important to think ahead about what you’re going to need and want to achieve your goals. Planning ahead for plants is important because although they only require light and water, different plants need different amounts of each.

All ponds should ideally get sun for at least half the day. A full day of sun will promote plants to grow at their best but sun all day long can be fatal. Constructing different levels within the pond will be the best way to provide a variety of environments for different plants. Be sure to take in consideration the size and amount of plants you want to keep in your pond. Shelves should have a width that is deep enough to accommodate different plant basket sizes to avoid over-hanging.

Most marginal plants are suitable to grow on shelves. Building shelves on the south side of the pond will be of benefit to you in sunny weather because you can place plants there that will in turn provide shade to the pond and help cut down on green algae. Water lilies vary in size but most prefer up to 10-16 inches of water coverage so placing them on the bottom of most ponds will suffice.

If you see a waterfall or fountain in your future, keep in mind that many water plants, including lilies, don’t grow as well in moving water. Therefore, keeping waterfalls in a separate part of the pond, away from the plants, is something to consider. If a big part of having a pond is to grow water plants, know that space and plenty of room to grow is an important key in your plants future to grow to their best potential.

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