Coverage plants to create a wildlife pond habitat should include both the pond water area and the planted areas around the outside of the pond.
1. Deep water plants to provide cover:
Oxygenating plants will be increasing in volume in the warmer summer months and should be allowed to fill 30% of the volume of the pond. This gives places for young amphibians to hide in different depth zones of water as they grow and mature.
2. Surface pond cover plants:
Start with cover across the pond in Spring with Aponogeton distachyos
More surface cover later in the year for wildlife can be obtained from water lilies. The only Native waterlily is Nymphaea alba which can be too vigorous for a small pond so substitute the smaller whites – Marliacaea Albida or candida. They will give the right volume of cover for a smaller surface area (aim for 60% surface coverage by leaves).
Or use the Native Frogbit (Hydrocharis Morsus Ranae) whose leaves only grow to 1″ in diameter and Water Soldier (Stratiotes aloides). These plants will help to protect the young and vulnerable newts, frog and toad tadpoles during metamorphosis from the egg stages through to adults in different areas of the pond.
3. Cover from shelf plants:
Plant growth on the shelf areas of the pond will give protection later in Summer as the young amphibians leave for the first time – Veronica beccabunga and Myosotis scorpioides for the smaller pond or Menyanthes trifoliata for a larger pond.
Emergent pond plants like Iris whose rhizomes walk out into the water make that transition between water and land smoother as the wildlife leaves the pond.
4. Cover outside the pond:
Moist and bog plantings around the outside of the pond water should be full and leafy in growth and as well as giving the pond a backdrop and setting, they provide foraging places for slugs and other insects and a protective canopy as young amphibians leave the pond for the first time.