Australia's unique and beautiful flora is distinct from anywhere else in the world, so it’s only natural that you’d want your backyard to be full of them.
Growing native plants is easy, great fun for you and the environment.
To increase your chances of success and reap the rewards for your efforts, just follow these four simple steps and you’ll be well on your way towards creating your own native flora sanctuary:
Keen to create a native garden but not sure where to begin? Here are some easy steps to get you started
Weed control should be done before planting via grazing, hand pulling or spot spraying. This will result in healthier and fast-growing plants, as they won’t have to compete with weeds for space and resources.
When choosing your plants, it’s important to choose species that are suited to your local area. While all natives sold at Killibinbin Native Nursery are frost tolerant for the Dargan area, in areas that experience more than minus 4oc, you should check plant suitability before you buy.
Then it’s time to map out the placement of your plants. If it helps, draw a map of your garden to help you work out how many plants you’ll need and where they are best placed, so that you can visualise the look you’re going for. Check the size of the plants (both width and height) and when they flower, so you can achieve colour in the garden all year round. Planting fast growing trees will provide good frost protection for the under-storey plants.
Many natives are sensitive to poor drainage, so locate the well-draining and poorly-draining areas of your garden and choose species accordingly. Killibinbin Native Nursery has fact sheets for wet area planting as well as a bank planting guide.
If you wish to achieve a natural look, avoid planting in rows by growing several of the same species together in a cluster.
Once you have planned your garden and written your shopping list, it’s time to lock in a date for a planting day. Plant availability can be quite seasonal, so send your list through to us so you can be sure that all plants are available for the chosen date.
Planting should be done during the wetter, cooler months of the year: autumn, winter or early spring.
This gives plants the best chance to establish themselves during mild conditions and makes the most of seasonal rainfall.
Dig the right sized hole
The most common mistake is digging the hole is that it is either too shallow or too narrow. The ideal hole is twice as deep and twice as wide as the container. Prepare the soil by filling the hole with water and allowing it to soak into the ground. Mix your natural soil with a good native soil mix blend to use as a back fill.
Soak the soil around the root ball
While the plant is still in its container, submerge it in a bucket of water until it stops bubbling – be sure not to submerge the entire plant. This helps get rid of air around the roots and makes it easier to get the plant out of the container.
Carefully remove the plant from the container
Remove the plant from the container, being careful not to disturb the roots more than necessary. The soil and root ball should come away easily. If not, tap the pot lightly with a small garden tool. Support the base of the exposed plant with one hand and use your other hand to hold the roots and soil together as you place it carefully in the hole.
Add soil and pack firmly
Backfill the hole with the soil mix and press it down firmly without compacting it. Create a small dip around the plant to help capture rainfall and guide water around the plant roots.
Water new plants immediately. A good soaking reduces evaporation, settles the soil, reduces air pockets and encourages roots to become stronger, by growing deeper as they look for moisture.
If you plant your natives at the right time of year – the wetter, cooler months: autumn to early spring – they should survive on rainfall alone.
Check your plants every few weeks though, and if the soil is dry, give them a good drink. Water regularly during their first summer, however in the longer term, they will be fine relying on rainfall.
Be sure not to overwater as this can result in ‘soft’ plants – plants that have poorly developed roots and are likely to struggle during drier spells.
To prevent this from happening, infrequent deep watering is the way to go. This allows water to travel deep down into the soil.
In the bush, leaf litter forms a very natural and beneficial layer over the soil. To ensure the health of your plants, it’s good to mimic this in your native garden by applying mulch, a woodchip mulch is recommended.
Mulch helps to:
· retain water in the soil and can reduce evaporative water loss by more than 70 per cent
· reduce weed growth
· regulate soil temperature by keeping it cooler in summer and warmer in winter
· increase the biodiversity of soil invertebrates that maintain soil structure and productivity.
Be sure not to apply your mulch too thick as this can deoxygenate the soil and suffocate plant roots – about 10 centimetres is a good depth.