Habitat Gardening

One of the many benefits of indigenous plants is that they can attract a large range of wildlife, including insects, birds and lizards. With some thoughtful design, you may be surprised at the types of animals you can attract to your garden, even in suburban areas.

Attracting birds

Australia has a rich and diverse range of bird species found nowhere else in the world. Indigenous gardens provide a safe haven for our native birds. Many bird species will prey on garden pests such as caterpillars and aphids, contributing to non-chemical pest control in the garden. To create a bird-attracting garden consider the following points.

Select a variety of plants to create a complex and natural structure built by landscape designers Melbourne, including large trees, small and large shrubs, ground-covers, grasses and sedges. Plants that produce flowers and seeds provide food for many of our native birds and mammals, whilst prickly shrubs provide them with a refuge in which to build their homes or escape from predators. Dense prickly shrubs and mature trees such as Acacia verticillata (Prickly Moses) and Leptospermum continentale(Prickly Tea-tree) can provide homes for a large range of insect, bird and mammal species

Dead trees and shrubs can also provide habitat for many of our native fauna. Take notice of any wildlife that visits your garden before you remove any dead trees or shrubs, as they may be providing a source of food or habitat.

Birds need shelter from predators such as cats and Noisy Miners. By providing prickly or dense plants at various levels in your garden you can provide a safe place for them to retreat to and create nesting sites.

A reliable water source, particularly in summer, will attract birds to your garden. A birdbath on a pedestal next to a dense or prickly shrub will help birds feel secure.


What could be lovelier than being serenaded to sleep by singing frogs? They also feast on mosquitoes, flies and slugs. An excellent non-chemical pest controller in the garden.

You can attract frogs by installing a pond in your garden, especially if you live near a wetland or waterway. It is illegal to collect frogs from the natural environment. You need to create a permanent, frog-friendly garden and hope they move in.

Building a frog pond

Locate your pond in a low-lying section of the garden that has around 70% shade. You can buy ready-made ponds or dig you own and line it with a heavy-duty pond liner. Ensure your pond has varying depth that includes a shallow entry point and a deeper section (30-50cm) to place potted aquatic plants. Cover the bottom with washed gravel. Add rocks and logs to create climbing spots. Allow your pond to fill with rainwater and then add your plants.

A pump should not be necessary as tadpoles and eggs can be destroyed. Avoid floating surface plants such as Azolla and Duckweed as they can quickly cover a pond reducing light and oxygen levels. Do not introduce fish into your pond as they will snack on tadpoles

Utilising runoff

In the natural environment, rain slowly filters through the soil into the groundwater table and eventually enters our rivers and streams. The flow rate is slowed down and excess nutrients and pollutants are removed. This process results in clean water entering our waterways. In Bayside’s urbanised landscape, many of our surfaces, such as roads, have been sealed and are impervious to water. Consequently when it rains, large volumes of water rapidly enters out stormwater system carrying litter and pollutants, and enters our creeks and rivers, and eventually Port Phillip Bay. Stormwater runoff represents a valuable resource that can be utilised by gardeners.


A raingarden is a gravel filled trench designed to receive stormwater directly from a disconnected downpipe or runoff from surrounding hard surfaces. Water entering a raingarden is slowed and filtered helping to protect our waterways. Raingardens consist of layers of soil for filtration, gravel for drainage, and plants that can tolerate both extreme wet and dry conditions. There are many different types of raingardens from planter boxes to a trench


If you are paving consider creating a space between that will enable water to percolate into the soil. Granitic and sand paths require more m

Natural vegetation community

Size and habit

  • Grows to 10-30cm high spreading to 50cm-1m.
  • Excellent in rockeries or mass planting.

Flowers and foliage

  • Bright yellow, button-like flower heads mainly from September to December, but can flower all year round.
  • Leaves an attractive silver grey and densely hairy.
  • Prune heavily in winter to rejuventate.

Preferred growing conditions

  • Grows in all well-drained soil and tolerates dry conditions.
  • Tolerates moderately salty winds
  • This plant is a vigorous groundcover that can be grown to suppress weeds or provide a great lawn alternative where traffic is light.

Natural vegetation community • Heath/woodland.

Size and habit

  • A matting plant that spreads quickly to 1-2m.
  • Easily divided and transplanted.

Flowers and foliage

  • Light to dark green, kidney shaped leaves to approximately 2cm across.
  • Inconspicuous creamy-green flowers

Preferred growing conditions

  • Tolerates some salt winds.
  • Grows in partial to complete shadeGrows in all local soils
  • Spreads widely in moist conditions.

Designing with indigenous plants

Designing with indigenous plants

Indigenous plants can be used to create a natural garden, can be grown in pots, arranged formally to enhance a traditional garden, or be used as cut flowers. In fact, there is probably an indigenous plant for every use in your garden. The following list provides examples of how some indigenous plants can be used to landscape your garden.

Planting for nature strips

Bayside residents are permitted to plant out their nature strips with indigenous grasses, groundcovers and low growing shrubs listed in the Bayside Nature Strip Planting Guidelines. (subject to Council or VicRoads consent).

A minimum of 500mm must be kept clear from the kerb to allow people to safely exit their cars. Plants (except street trees) must be maintained at a maximum height of 600mm. Corner blocks are limited to ground cover plants to a maximum height of 250 within 9 metres either side of an intersection to ensure a clear line of sight for motorists and pedestrians.

A minimum of 1.5 metres from the property line is to be kept clear to allow for pedestrian access, mail, paper and other deliveries.

Residents can request Council plant a street tree on their nature strip

Fine gravels such as granitic sand can be laid to a depth of 75mm. Mulch or bark chips can also be used. These must be level with the footpath and weed free. Mulch also needs to be kept on the nature strip and not spill onto the footpath.

If you would like to plant out your nature strip you will need to ensure you prune plants so they don’t protrude beyond the boundary and don’t exceed the height restrictions. You will be responsible for keeping your nature strip free of weeds, rubbish and any tripping hazards.

Planting technique

Once your site is well prepared you can begin planting. Generally, planting after the first heavy autumn rain and garden maintenance is the best time for dry or exposed sites. For frost prone areas, spring may be a more appropriate time for planting. Try to avoid any planting during the summer period

Step 1: Prepare the planting hole

The planting hole should be approximately twice the width of the plant container and slightly deeper. Remember to dig the hole into the soil below the mulch – if you plant straight into the mulch your plant will dry out and die.

Step 2: Pre-soaking Give your plants a thorough pre-soaking in a bucket of water prior to planting. In dry soils, fill the hole with water and allow it to drain before planting.


Step 3: Prepare the plant Any particularly long or coiled roots protruding through the bottom of the pot can be pruned with sharp secateurs before removing the plant from the pot. Some root disturbance is tolerable but be careful not to damage living roots. When planting good quality tubestock,

it is not necessary to ‘tickle’, or tease out the plant’s roots.

Step 4: Remove the plant from the pot

This is best achieved by turning the pot upside down and striking the rim gently against a solid object.

Step 5: Place the plant into the hole

So that the plant is a little lower than the original soil level. Firmly replace the soil around the plant, breaking up any lumps as you go.

Step 6: Water the plant in well

Initially all plants need to be watered individually to settle soil around the root system. Plants may require a good deep soaking once a week when establishing, particularly during dry periods.


One of the great things about indigenous plants is that they require very little maintenance. With just a little work each year, your indigenous garden will continue to look healthy, neat and beautiful.



  • Controlling and removing weeds in areas of your garden or property that contain indigenous vegetation reduces competition for water, light and nutrients, helping to enhance growth.
  • If active pets are a problem, add a tree guard. Remove once the plant has become established.


  • Monitor new plants during their first summer. If there has not been a good soaking rain by mid summer, they will benefit from weekly or fortnightly watering. Deep, occasional watering will help the plant establish deeper roots.
  • Topping-up mulch annually helps to increase water retention and over time, will increase the organic matter in your soils.

Mulching tips

  • Avoid hot, steaming mulch, as this indicates that it is still composting.
  • Check for and remove mulch-borne seedlings to prevent weed invasion.
  • In a garden setting, many indigenous plants will respond well to careful pruning, and many will provide better shows of flowers if heavily pruned.
  • Pruning is usually best carried out after the plant has finished flowering. If you are developing a hedge, begin pruning early in the plant’s life.
  • Fertilisers aren’t usually necessary when growing indigenous plants and may encourage weed growth. Too much fertiliser can also cause fast, soft plant growth, leaving plants more vulnerable to insect attack or harsh climatic conditions.
  • Too much phosphorus in particular, can kill many indigenous plants. The addition of compost or other organic matter is a much better option for promoting healthy growth.
  • If you do choose to fertilise, mix a small amount of slow-release, low phosphate fertiliser with the soil and backfill into the hole.

Bayside’s original vegetation communities

The vegetation of Bayside has changed dramatically since Europeans first settled in 1844. Well over 260 species have since disappeared, and many more are now considered rare or threatened. Large tracts of heathlands and woodlands were progressively cleared to make way for roads, market gardens, housing and industry. However, geological data, the location of remnant vegetation and historical field notes has enabled us to determine the location of Bayside’s original vegetation communities. This information provides guidance as to the ideal location for various indigenous plants to thrive.

Get involved and learn

Many of Bayside’s bushland reserves are supported by the local ‘Friends of Bayside’. The ‘Friends of Bayside’ are community-based volunteers that meet at reserves to collect seed, plant, and help protect Bayside’s remnant natural areas. It’s a great way to learn about indigenous plants, help maintain Bayside’s unique vegetation communities and meet wonderful people in your local community

The place to buy healthy indigenous plants for your Bayside garden. A great range of plants available as well as expert advice and guidance on indigenous plant selection and maintenance.
Open to the public from 10am to 12 noon on Thursdays and Saturdays. The nursery only sells plants from April to October each year as this is the best time to plant.

The nursery also has a volunteer program that contributes to the propagation and running of the nursery and new volunteers are always welcome. For further information contact the nursery on 9583 8408.