Gardening is about creating a beautiful and interesting space that we can enjoy. It’s easy to garden sustainably for the health and wellbeing of our family and the environment. With some planning we can also create a home for some of our native animals. This not only helps with their protection, but also makes a much more interesting and enjoyable garden for us.
Simple tips for a sustainable garden
- Win back some space for our unique plants and animals by creating a habitat garden or section of garden.
- When buying products for the garden consider reused or recycled, those made from renewable resources or working with you already have.
- Think about how products are manufactured and how far they have travelled to get to your garden. Remember that gravel and pebble products are often extracted directly from natural waterways. Recycled alternatives are readily available locally.
- Think about growing some of your own food. This can reduce the water and fossil fuels used in commercial production and transport. Herbs and greens are easy, and can help you avoid food waste because you can pick and eat – no more slimy greens in the bottom of your fridge!
- Avoid weeds in your garden - Non-native or ‘exotic’ plants can be useful in the garden. However, they also make up the vast majority of Australia’s weeds. When plants escape into the natural environment they become weeds – competing with native plants and compromising the habitat for our wildlife. Common local weeds you should avoid or consider replacing include the following.
- Italian or Topped Lavender. Replace with the English variety
- Olives. If you don’t net or pick all your olives consider replacing it. A feijoa is an attractive, and tasty, alternative
- Many bulb varieties like Freesias, Bella Donna Lilies and Watsonia are vigorous bushland invaders. Try a native lily instead.
There are no hard and fast rules with designing a habitat garden, other than trying to mimic some natural conditions and working with nature - not against it. Plant species that like to grow in your soil type and landscape location. Local wildlife will generally benefit most from native plants, but your garden doesn’t need to be exclusively native. Habitat gardens can be designed in different styles - they can be formal, a riot of colour in a cottage style, or an informal natural look.
A key to creating a habitat garden is to create structural diversity – lots of plants and lots of different layers. Aim to create a mix of trees, shrubs of varying heights, grasses and groundcovers. Think about a variety of flowers – insects love daisies, honeyeaters love grevilleas but they also eat insects so insect-attracting plants are important, and finches eat seed. It’s time for gardens with lots of flowers to make a comeback!