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.
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, including large trees, small and large shrubs, groundcovers, 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
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 maintenance than concrete but will allow water to seep into the ground.
By diverting one or more downpipes around your property you can direct stormwater onto your garden beds or lawn.
Water can be directed onto your garden beds by gently sloping the surface of driveways and patios towards your garden beds or lawn area. Consider building a swale (vegetated channel) positioned to move runoff from your hard surfaces to your garden or a small wetland.