With careful design and planning, your home landscape can be attractive and useful.
It can also be of benefit to the environment by helping to provide habitat for native creatures, keeping rivers and creeks clean, conserving water and reusing waste.
To help maintain the local natural biodiversity of plants and animals, choose a diversity of local species. These will provide food and shelter for native animals such as birds, lizards and butterflies and help their survival.
In your design, provide habitats for native wildlife such as rock terraces and crevices for lizards and ponds for frogs. Lizards, frogs and birds will reduce the number of mosquitos, snails, cockroaches and other pests in your backyard.
When choosing or specifying materials, don't use 'bush rocks' as rocks taken from bushland destroy valuable habitat and shelter for wildlife.
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Use a deep mulch on all planting areas. This can reduce the amount of water evaporating in the sun, and protect and shade plant root systems. Mulch also helps to control weeds and preserves a healthy soil structure.
Water plants in the evening or cool of the morning to avoid evaporation in the hotter parts of the day.
Install a drip irrigation system rather than using sprinklers. This can deliver water to exactly where it's required and avoid waste. Your local nursery can advise you about irrigation systems.
Lawns use more water than any other part of the garden. Select a variety that uses less water and soak the lawn only when it shows signs of wilting or stress.
Lawns are high maintenance so you might increase the size of your low maintenance garden (native plants) or grow native ground covers.
Conserve water by watering in the evening or cool mornings - there will be less evaporation. Observe water restrictions.
Install a rainwater tank for watering the garden. (This water may not be suitable for drinking).
It can save money on water bills and reduce runoff from the house. Contact your local council or Sydney Water for details.
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When constructing your garden, try and reuse as much material as possible. Preserve existing native trees and bushes. Chip other vegetation for mulch. Reuse topsoil which may have been removed during any excavations.
Choose recycled materials such as second-hand bricks, pavers and timber wherever possible. These may be found in the classified sections of your local newspaper or under 'Building Materials - Secondhand' in the Yellowpages.
Design an area in your garden for compost bins (two is best) or a worm farm. These can deal with of all your kitchen wastes as well as lawn and garden clippings. The resulting compost or worm castings are good for the soil and save on fertiliser.
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Pollutants from your garden may wash into creeks and rivers. These could include fertilisers, pesticides, detergents, animal droppings, sediment from soil erosion and leaf litter and lawn clippings.
If any natural creeks, depressions or gullies occur in your garden, retain or plant native vegetation along them to filter any litter or sediment that may flow into them.
Design an area in your garden for washing the car on grass to prevent soapy water entering stormwater drains.
Keep paved areas and driveways clear of soil and leaf litter so only clean water runs into the stormwater system. Remember anything that flows into your street stormwater system will end up in your local waterway. Use a broom and not a hose.
Use porous paving such as loose laid bricks or gravel so that water is absorbed into the ground rather than running off. This will provide more water for plants, reduce watering requirements and reduce the amount of water running off your site, possibly causing pollution.
Fertilisers and pesticides
Minimise your use of fertilisers and pesticides by using native plants. They require less maintenance. Use compost and organic fertilisers to provide plant nutrients. They release nutrients more slowly.
If you use fertiliser, use it sparingly and only in the optimum season when plants will take it up. Many plants do not need as much fertiliser or need it as often as you might think.
Don't fertilise immediately before rain.
Page last updated: 27 February 2011