> Gardening for biodiversity
Design and plant a garden to improve local biodiversity
Not all gardens are about growing vegetables or flowers: you can also grow a garden to create habitat for native birds, animals and insects. That’s not to say that a native garden can’t be edible or full of flowers; there are many native plants with edible fruits, nuts or leaves, and even more with flowers of amazing colours, shapes and scents.
Planting a native garden will benefit all local native wildlife by providing food and shelter. However, your garden can be aimed at benefiting one type of animal in particular. For example, you could create a butterfly garden or a bird garden. Or you could create a lizard lounge or a frog bog. Or if space is an issue you could create a nesting box or bird feeder.
What you choose to do will depend upon the space you have, the existing habitat features in your garden (e.g. a watercourse, large trees or established shrubs) and the resources available to you.
How To Do It
Start by looking at possible areas for a new garden in your yard and what features already exist in these areas (e.g. trees, shrubs, watercourses or stones). Remember that most gardens need some sunlight, and that planting on a steep slope will need regular mulching to keep water from running downhill and away from plants.
As part of your planning process you will need to identify how gardens can be watered during holiday periods. Many native plants tolerate dry conditions very well so planting these plants is sensible if watering during holidays will be difficult. Bear in mind though that these plants will thrive when watered regularly (at least one good water a week).
Once you have selected the area you want to garden in, decide what sort of garden you want to plant. What animals do you want to attract to your garden?
You may also want to have a look at our tips for caring for a garden. Mulching will reduce the need for watering, fertilizers will provide nourishment for plants and watering regularly will reduce the chance of plant fatalities. You could even try talking positively to your plants can help them grow strong and healthy!
Note: Any garden planted to attract birds and butterflies will have lots of flowers, which will also attract lots of bees: this may or may not be a problem.
What kind of native garden do you want to create?
- Ask parents/caregivers to donate cuttings, seeds or seedlings. See How to propagate cuttings.
- Ask students to research and create ‘Did you know?’ signs to place beside growing plants.
- Keep some animal identification books in your classroom or make a poster of the animals you are trying to attract so you know whose making your garden their home.
Whole school tip
Different year levels could adopt one of the species you are trying to attract to your garden. They could be responsible for monitoring sightings of this species, the health of this species, and could initiate activities to increase habitat options and quality for this species. At the end of the year they could report on the presence of this species to the school community.
What’s Our Impact?
A mature tree absorbs an average of 267kg over its lifetime (30 years). Each year a tree absorbs 8.9kgs of CO2-3 (267kg divided by 30). These savings are based on planting and looking after one tree. All plants benefit the environment. Plant more, save more!
- CO2e (weekly) 0.17
- CO2e (annual) 8.9
- Black balloons (weekly) 3.4
- Black balloons (annual) 178
Suburbs with more than 30% native street trees had 11% more bird species compared to other suburbs. Learn more at Programmed.
92% of our vascular plants are endemic. About 83% of our mammals also occur nowhere else, as well as 45% of our birds, 89% of our reptiles and 93% of our frogs.
There are an estimated 25,000 species of plants in Australia! Learn more at the CSIRO.
Only seventeen ‘mega diversity’ countries ‒ countries with extraordinarily high levels of biodiversity ‒ are recognised on Earth. These countries collectively hold around two thirds of the world’s biodiversity. Australia is one of these countries. Learn more at The Wilderness Society.
Since European settlement, eighty-three species of higher plants have become extinct: we have the worst record for higher plant extinctions than any country on Earth. We have also sent extinct forty-three animal species. With nineteen mammal extinctions we have the worst record of mammal extinctions on Earth ‒ more than any other country or continent. We have also sent twenty-one species of birds and three frogs extinct. In total, we have sent 126 species of plants and animals out of existence in just 200 years. Learn more at The Wilderness Society.