So many different elements go into making a beautiful water garden environment. Lush plants, active aquatic life and clear, clean water. Each of these elements requires a moderate amount of care and attention. Let's begin by looking at aquatic plants. Form and function, selection and care. Flowering species like water lilies and irises make a dramatic statement. Floating plants provide fish with shade and shelter. And during daylight hours your water garden plants produce oxygen through photosynthesis that enriches the environment. Plants also help prevent algae growth. By shading the pond, they keep the sunlight from reaching the water and that discourages the spread of algae. Plants also absorb nutrients like nitrates that otherwise would nourish the algae. Water lettuce and water hyacinths don't need soil, they simply float on the water surface. And water hyacinths multiply rapidly in the summer months creating more shade for the pond. Making your pond look natural is the goal and using plants can help. Planting between the rocks and gravel on the pond shelves softens the edges of the pond for a more natural appearance. Water lilies are a popular choice for pond environments. There are winter hearty varieties that come back year after year and tropical varieties that need to over winter indoors. And they all look spectacular with beautiful foliage and amazing blooms.