Garden Care of A Sustainable Garden - Brisbane, Australia


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Garden Care of A Sustainable Garden - Brisbane, Australia

  1. 1. Garden careOnce you have established your Caring for your compostsustainable garden, the next step isto know how to care for it through  Alternate nitrogen-rich materials (e.g.regular maintenance. This section will fruit peelings, lawn clippings) with carbon-rich materials (e.g. dry leaves,provide some information for you to sawdust, paper, straw).follow.  Make the layers 5-10cm deep.A sustainable garden is a winner inthe maintenance stakes. It is low  Sprinkle soil between the layers.maintenance, needs less mowing,  Add oxygen by turning the top layersless pruning, less chemicals and less regularly.watering, so you get more time to  Keep moist but not wet.enjoy it! Avoid adding: RESIDENtS tIP  animal fats and meats as this will attract vermin If its not compostable or recyclable, dont buy it!!  weeds with bulbs  pet droppings (try a worm farm)Compost  branches, roots and rose cuttingsCompost is a complete DIY plant food  citrus peeland soil conditioner. It’s great for soil  seafood.structures, root growth, soil water-holdingcapacity and worms. It turns everythingfrom vacuum cleaner dust to eggshells GREEN tIPinto great fertiliser. Importantly, it divertsyour green waste back into the garden If your chosen method ofrather than into a landfill site, which composting is a compost heap oralso helps to reduce the production of compost enclosure, remember todamaging greenhouse gases. keep your compost covered with soil and turn regularly to discourage rat and/or mice infestation. RESIDENtS tIP Egg shells, crushed and added to compost are a great source of calcium for your soil Green Gardening Guide 31
  2. 2. Garden care It is handy to keep a separate bin in your kitchen for fruit and vegetable scraps GREEN tIP for your compost heap. The compost is Offer your vegie scraps to your ready for garden use when it has reduced neighbours who have a compost bin to a fine, crumble mix with an earthy or chickens. smell. This may take between 3-6 months depending on what the design of your compost bin is. For a great guide on how to compost, RESIDENtS tIP visit Puffy my chicken is good for p01151aa.pdf/How_to_compost.pdf fertiliser. She eats my leftovers at dinner too – Ameilia, aged 7 Low Nitrogen soil and water High Nitrogen kitchen waste water Low Nitrogen garden waste High Nitrogen manure Low Nitrogen coarse prunings High Nitrogen grass clippings Low Nitrogen soil High Nitrogen herbs or seaweed Low Nitrogen coarse prunings loosely-forked soil base 32
  3. 3. Marvellous mulch Benefits of mulchEven if you don’t have a compost heap Multipurpose mulch can:or bin, you can still enjoy the marvellous  suppress weedsbenefits of mulch. It’s as easy as spreadingweed-free dry grass clippings, leaves  act as a natural slow-release fertiliserand shredded prunings on top of the soil  provide a home for plant-friendlyto a depth of 15cm for course material insectsand only 2.5cm for fresh grass clippings.Remember to keep it away from plant  keep up to 70% more water in the soilstems to avoid collar rot. than unmulched soil. For more information on composting or RESIDENtS tIP mulching visit environment or call Council on Use lucerne mulch. When it sprouts (07) 3403 8888. dig it in to enrich soil with nitrogen – Yvonne Mulch layer breaks down to add Weeds pulled out easily nutrients to soil Screened light = Evaporation less germination reduced of weed seeds mulch no mulch Roots can be killed at high temperatures 3cm deep 32˚C 42˚C 12cm deep 26˚C 38˚C Green Gardening Guide 33
  4. 4. GREEN tIP GREEN tIP If you put mulch on your garden Just remember that your compost too thickly a crust may develop worms are a different species to and prevent water penetration. It’s your garden worms. Your compost always a good idea to periodically worms are surface dwellers and turn over your mulch to aerate it are one of nature’s best recyclers. and to assist with decomposition. Garden earthworms are great at deep burrowing which help loosens soil and allows water and air down to the roots of plants.Hooray for worms!If you don’t have room for a compost bin, Your garden earthworms are just as hardyou should consider buying a worm farm. working. They munch up mulch, creatingCompost worms are great gardeners. tunnels for air, water and delicate roots asThey munch up all your vegetable scraps they go. They play such a very importantand produce microbe-rich castings that role in having a healthy, sustainableare full of nutrients for plants. The liquid garden.castings are great for watering all yourplants and you just need to dilute it at arate of 1 to 10 (i.e. castings to water).34
  5. 5. Garden careFertilisers MowingSome forms of fertiliser are often How do you rate as a mower? Giveexpensive, require a lot of water and may yourself a tick if you…not even be necessary. Check any nutrient Compost or mulch weed-free grass deficiency symptoms in foliage with your clippingslocal nursery. Avoid the use of chemicalfertilisers and go organic with your own Only cut the top third of the grassmulch and compost. Mow regularly during the summer Nitrogen-rich fertilisers cause algal growing seasonblooms and increase weed growth in our Don’t use a catcher on parts of the waterways. This disturbs the ecological lawn you don’t often visitbalance for animals and plants thatlive there. Some native plants (such as Use a mulching mower that shreds banksias and grevilleas) are sensitive to clippings finelyphosphorus so avoid using fertilisers and Service your mower regularly and keepgreywater on these. the blades sharpIf you feel as though you have to use Are a considerate neighbour, whoextra fertilisers: mows and whipper snips between 7am confirm why you need them and 7pm each day or after 8am on Sundays check their composition Have replaced some of your lawn with follow the manufacturer’s instructions gardens and/or vegie patch carefully Water your lawn with greywater from if you want to take advantage of rain, your laundry or shower ensure that you dig the fertiliser in well to minimise the chance of run-off Use an energy-efficient hand push mower never empty fertilisers into creeks or stormwater drains. Practice safety in the garden by Don’t spray/sprinkle wearing a wide-brimmed hat, long- chemicals on a windy sleeved shirt, gardening gloves, day or before rain Identify the sunglasses, sturdy shoes and sunscreen problem Don’t over-fertilise your plants Target spray on pest only Space plants to encourage air circulation Leave grass clippings on lawn LAWN (reduce) Use greywater to fertilise Green Gardening Guide 35
  6. 6. Pruning Dumping garden wasteSome native plants such as bottlebrush A big threat to our natural environment isand tea tree benefit from pruning. It the dumping of rubbish, including gardenpromotes flowering and they don’t waste and lawn clippings.become straggly or woody. However, Garden waste, such as plant pruning’s,you can keep your pruning chores to a soil and grass clippings can introduce orminimum by choosing plants that grow to spread weeds or other unwanted plantsa size that suits their location. into bushland, and pests such as fireants.Pruning your trees is a good idea to Their introduction causes competitionreduce their centre of gravity however with native plants and can destroy habitat.there are rules to consider. Thin them If native plants suffer, so do the nativeout but do not cut back the lower limbs birds, animals and insects that needas this will make the tree top heavy. If those plants for food and shelter. Thein doubt, contact a qualified consulting green waste can also add fuel to the busharborist for advice. and during the hot dry summer season increase the risk and intensity of bushfire.Always dispose of your prunings by either: Dumping rubbish, including garden waste buying your own mulcher to shred such as grass clippings and pruning’s are larger prunings before placing them in illegal and penalties apply. Be responsible your compost bin. and take your garden waste to one of separate green waste and general Council’s four transfer stations. Contact waste before going to the Council Council on (07) 3403 8888 or visit transfer station for further information. contact a garden waste removal service that mulches and recycles waste to take your pruning’s and leaves away. RESIDENtS tIP Learn to prune your garden at the right time of the year for healthy regrowth – Shane GREEN tIP Council offers a free kerbside green waste collection for all residents. To find out about the collection schedule for your suburb phone Council on (07) 3403 8888 or visit environment36
  7. 7. not mulching, having water-repelling soils GREEN FACt and bad garden design. Here are some tips to reduce any water wastage. Roadside or bushland dumping is illegal and penalties apply. If you  Use a soil wetting agent to assist with see someone dumping waste the soils ability to take up water more illegally, dob in a dumper by calling efficiently. Council on (07) 3403 8888.  After you have watered, check to see Write down the registration number, how far it has penetrated. Ideally, it make and model of the vehicle should be to a depth of 10cm. as well as the time and place. For safety reasons, don’t confront the  Group plants with similar watering dumpers. requirements together.  Mulch your gardens and pots well. Mulch made from recycled organicsMinimising water use (i.e. sugar cane mulch) is a great water saving product.As Australians, we live on the driestinhabited continent on Earth. Drought  Lawns are very water hungry. Thinkis a periodic reality for most parts of about replacing your lawn with gardenAustralia, including Brisbane and we need beds or use a more waterwise variety ofto be smart about how we use the water grass. Lawns are resilient so if your lawnavailable to us. By following good water does go brown, it will rejuvenate whenmanagement practices we can lessen we next have good rainfall.the pressure placed on the supply of this  Water pots and plants on a low-limited resource. pressure setting on your hose. This will allow deep water penetration of your RESIDENtS tIP plants. Spray settings will only provide surface watering. Water the root ball of the plant, not the whole plant  Always check to see if your plants need watering. An easy way to test is to insert your finger into the dirt andBrisbane residents are to be then remove it to see if the soil on yourcongratulated for the way they have met finger is wet or dry.the challenges of drought and water  Establishing with deep watering isrestriction targets. Whilst it has not always more beneficial than frequent surfacebeen easy to watch our beloved gardens watering as this encourages deep rootstruggle, we have learnt first hand just important it is to retain the waterwe use by mulching and composting our  Buy a rainwater tank. Check withgardens. Council for any rebate that might apply. For more information visit,It has been estimated that up to a third of wasted in the garden is through not rainwatertanksfollowing good watering practices, e.g. Green Gardening Guide 37
  8. 8.  Use greywater from your laundry and Water early in the morning or late bathroom. Just remember to not use in the afternoon (in accordance with this water on your edible vegetables or current restrictions) on some natives. Visit www.brisbane. Have planted waterwise plants for further information on greywater use. Use greywater on your plants (except some natives and edible plants) Purchase and install water saving devices. For example, rainwater Have planted a shade tree to reduce tanks, pool covers, low flow taps, and evaporation greywater systems. Have reduced the size of your lawn Have less than 50% of your garden area GREEN tIP planted with lawn Greywater can contain elevated The Queensland Water Commission has levels of sodium, phosphorus the responsibility for water restrictions in and contaminants. Avoid use response to the combined water levels on grevilleas, banksias, azaleas, of our three main dams – Wivenhoe, gardenias or directly on edible crops. Somerset and North Pine. Visit to view current waterGive yourself a tick if you… restrictions. Use mulch on your pots and gardens GREEN FACt Group plants together with similar watering needs Of all the earth’s water, only three percent is fresh and two-thirds Have a rainwater tank and/or a of this is locked away in ice. That greywater diverter leaves only one percent to water the world. trees Your garden is a reflection of you and a specially-planted tree can represent a significant event in your family (e.g. child’s birth) or just a statement to your home. It’s important to look after not just your special tree but all trees in your property. Give it loving care by:  mulching its critical root zone (see picture on page 39)  hiring a consulting arborist to inspect it, prune it or remove dead or dangerous branches.38
  9. 9. RESIDENtS tIP tree root maintenance A tree’s ‘critical root zone’ is the area Everyone should plant a tree for every directly underneath the canopy of a year they have lived mature tree, right down to the root structure.What to do to protect your special tree All activities in this zone have a direct impact on the tree and its roots. Tree health, vigour and stability are linked to root health. Any damage to the roots can weaken branches in the tree’s canopy. Weak roots mean unstable trees during extreme weather conditions. When working in the critical root zone, avoid:  digging  root cutting or other damage  filling CRItICAL ZoNE  spilling chemicals  compaction  vehicular trafficWhat Not to do to protect your special tree  paving. Tree roots don’t usually crack or break pipes – the pipes are often already leaking or damaged which attracts tree roots. To avoid any problems that roots might cause:  plant trees away from structures. A guide to how far is available on page 28 in this booklet or check with your local nursery.  repair faulty stormwater and sewer pipes CRItICAL ZoNE  choose small to medium trees. Green Gardening Guide 39
  10. 10. Preparing for fire/storm For more information on preparing for storm season visit:season’s summers are hot and storm storm_checklist.htmland fire events are common. To lessen thepotential for damage it is best that you your home early for the summer css/severe_storm.aspseason. For fire season information visit:Here are some simple steps to protect property. bushfire/default.asp fire season Clean out roof guttering. Leaf litter Safety in the garden can accumulate in your gutters which As much as we enjoy being in the will ignite from flying embers from garden, we should always be mindful of bushfires. These embers can travel good safety practices. Common garden many kilometres on the wind. Use chemical and synthetic pesticides can be gutter guards to prevent leaf build up. dangerous to your plants, soils, aquatic Create a barrier/fire break between life, pets and children if used incorrectly. bushland and your home. Ensure that you have an easily- GREEN tIP accessible and fire-safe escape road If you’re not sure how to handle route should you need to leave. the product, always read the label each time that you purchase theBefore storm season product as dosage rates can change between manufacturing dates. Check and repair any loose roofing tiles or sheets. Check and clean downpipes, guttering and drains to ensure water Some general gardening safety tips. drains away quickly. Use gutter guards  Don’t leave garden tools, hoses, to prevent leaf build up. watering cans or other solid objects Hire a qualified consulting arborist to lying about for people to trip over. inspect your trees for dead branches,  Always store rakes, hoes, spades, forks, weak branch attachments, decay, poor secateurs and shears out of children’s weight distribution and dangerously reach. crowded branches or root damage.  Always be careful of handling organic Remove any overhanging branches mulch, compost and fertilisers. Use near your home and clear your yard of gloves and a mask to ensure that you loose materials and rubbish. do not inhale any microorganisms.Always be storm and fire smart!  If you are cut with a sharp gardening implement, wash with warm water and clean with disinfectant.40
  11. 11.  Always be aware of possibly finding rusty nails or other dangerous objects tips for an environmentally- when you’re digging in the garden. friendly garden Always mow wearing covered shoes, a  Spray plants with natural insect controls hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. such as garlic spray, white oil or dishwashing detergent (see residents’ Always wash your hands with soap and tried and true recipes below). water after working in the garden even if you’ve worn gloves.  Encourage visits by insect-eating birds by providing suitable habitat. Remember to bend your knees when lifting plants or using your  Get Mother Nature on side with wheelbarrow. companion planting, choosing plants that attract insect predators (suchWhen handling fertilisers and chemicals: as ladybeetles) or release certain always read, understand and follow the chemicals (such as marigolds). directions on the label  Prevention is best. Keep plants healthy, ensure you understand the rate of weed-free and disease-resistant. application and wear gloves Select plants less susceptible to insect invasion. store chemicals and fertilisers out of the reach of children  Use natural pesticides such as pyrethrum and derris. However, use don’t spray on windy days or when the them sparingly as they too can cause temperature is over 30°C. environmental harm.If you are having some problems  To reduce fungal problems remove oldwith garden pests consider using leaves, avoid watering leaf surfaces andorganic chemicals that have a minimal keep mulch from base of stem.environmental impact. RESIDENtS tIP Use companion planting to reduce reliance on man-made chemicals and increase production of plants. GREEN tIP Remember to practice ‘sun safety’ whenever you are in the garden and always wear a hat, long sleeves, sturdy shoes, sunglasses and sunscreen. Green Gardening Guide 41
  12. 12. GREEN tIP Garden nasties Residents tried and true sustainable garden remedies: Invasive plants Many attractive garden plants have a AILMENT REMEDy secret life as weeds in our bushland! There To deter white Boil lettuce leaves are more than 200 backyard beauties cabbage moth and use the water on that become bushland bullies when they cabbages, cauliflower, jump the garden fence. Once there, they brussel sprouts smother and kill native plants, removing For sooty mould Add 1tsp cooking oil food and shelter for our wildlife. + 1tsp detergent + 500ml water – spray on Invasive plants are the main threat to To deter/kill Mix 3 cloves garlic + biodiversity in protected areas and they aphids, slugs, squirt of washing up represent the second biggest threat to beetles liquid + 500ml water biodiversity after vegetation clearing. and spray on Council spends nearly $2.5 million each Black spot on Mix 1tsp sunflower year on weed management in our natural roses oil + 2tsp bicarb soda areas, parks and waterways and 85% of + 1 drop washing the species treated are garden escapees. detergent + 1 litre So we are all really important partners in water – spray on helping to reduce weeds by buying non­ invasive species from a reputable nursery and removing weeds from our gardens, or joining your local Habitat Brisbane group WILDLIFE GREEN tIP and removing weeds from Brisbane’s BRUSH TURKEyS bushland. Council has an online weed identification The brush-turkey is a protected tool and videos of the seven most native bird and they play an common weed control methods to help important role in natural pest you identify and control weeds. To locate management. However, during this useful tool, find more information or the mating season (August to share your knowledge about weeds visit December) they can destroy your or beloved garden within a day and phone (07) 3403 8888 for weed fact sheets. will remain persistent with their nest building until the end of the breeding season. For more RESIDENtS tIP information on working towards a ‘natural balance’ with your resident Daddy and I do digging and cutting brush turkey, please visit www. to stop the creeper climbing in the house – Harrison42
  13. 13. Mozzies and midges  ensuring water does not pool on the tank lidMosquitoes and midges can turn a  sealing all entry routes to the tankgreat afternoon BBQ or picnic into an including the inlet and overflow pipesunpleasant event. To help protect yourself with mosquito-proof screensand your garden from mozzies andmidges, follow some of the tips below. Visit environment for more information. Regularly check for mosquito larvae (wrigglers) in any still water in containers, plant saucers, tyres and tyre Fire ants/yellow crazy ants swings, buckets, bird baths and pet The most dangerous ant in the Brisbane bowls. Replace with fresh clean water area is the fire ant. Other ants that may where necessary. cause problems around the home include Keep roof gutters clear from built green head ants, meat ants, sugar ants up leaf litter to prevent rain water and funnel ants. collecting. Fire ants were discovered in South East Wear long sleeved, light coloured and Queensland in 2001 and even though loose fitting clothing if you are outside many have been eradicated, there is at dusk and dawn. always a risk of finding them in plant soil and potting mix. If you buy these, ask Use natural repellents such as your garden supplier to certify that they citronella, mosquito coils and lanterns. are free of fire ants.Visit for more information. RESIDENtS tIP Put sand in the saucers of pot plants – it keeps the mozzies awayRainwater tanks and mozzieprevention Fire antMosquitoes breed if they get inside a tankor systems where water does not drainfrom pipes, gutters and plumbing. PESt tIP If you think you have fire ants orYou can stop mosquitoes breeding in yellow crazy ants, immediately phoneyour rainwater tank by: the Department of Primary Industries ensuring there is no debris in the tank and Fisheries on 13 25 23. Visit for more gutter design does not allow water to information. pool Green Gardening Guide 43
  14. 14. Yellow crazy ants were discovered inBrisbane in 2004. They don’t sting but PESt tIPspray formic acid that irritates the skin Termites (white ants) can causeand eyes of people. thousands of dollars worth ofVisit damage to homes in a relativelyenvironment for more information. short period of time. To prevent any problems, always ensure that: • you don’t have garden beds against your home • keep weep holes clear • keep any pieces of timber away from against your home • replace any leaking garden taps Yellow crazy ant • contact a qualified pest manager at least once a year to carry out a termite inspection of your home. Details can be found in the yellow pages under ‘pest control’.44
  15. 15. A DPI&F scientist inspecting a fire ant nest