Gardeners in the Blue Mountains can make a positive contribution to the survival of local native fauna and flora by making our gardens bush friendly.
The greatest threat to native flora and fauna is the loss of habitat, through land clearing and weed invasion.
Natural habitat for wildlife has several essential elements:
- nesting sites and materials
- shelter and protection
Wildlife garden ideally satisfy a variety of dietary requirements.
Native animals eat insects, worms and other invertebrates, eggs, small vertebrates, dead animals, leaves, pollen, nectar, blossoms, sap, honeydew, manna, lerp, fruit and seeds.
Planting a Wildlife Friendly Garden
Trees are essential, and eucalypts are the most important, providing blossoms, nectar, seeds, lerp, insects, nesting sites, nesting materials, perching places and shelter. Even the smallest garden has room for local multistemmed (mallee) eucalypts.
A mix of plants at all levels is ideal, including tall, medium and small shrubs, scramblers, ground plants and grasses, under the trees. Some prickly shrubs will provide shelter and protection and a mix of species will provide a spread of a flowering and seeding times.
Ensure there is an adequate fire-safe zone around your house for your protection.
- For nectar and blossom eaters plant small-flowered Grevilleas, Banksias, Correas, Bottlebrushes, Waratahs and Lambertia.
- For seed eaters put in Acacias, Casuarinas, Hakeas, Banksias, Leprospermums and native grasses.
- For fruit eaters include Acmenas, Dianellas, Geebungs and Elaeocarpus.
A bush friendly garden will attract a variety of insect eaters, providing a free and ongoing biological control of garden pests.
Nesting Sites, Materials, Shelter and Protection
Nesting materials include moss, lichen, bark, cobwebs, sticks and living and dead plant material.
Favoured nesting sites include dense vegetation, tall trees, hollow logs, rocks, earth banks, tree hollows, grass clumps and the ground.
Trees, prickly and dense shrubs, stones, rocks and logs help to provide shelter and protection from predators. Perching sites and vantage points are important for birds looking for prey and for display. Suitable perches may be on dead trees or exposed branches. Reptiles seek out sunny spots, such as flat rocks.
Trees with hollows are required by many native animals: bats, cockatoos, parrots, possums, gliders and kookaburras, for example. Tree hollows occur only in large mature (or dead) trees.
Nesting boxes can be substituted for naural hollows. Plans for building these are readily available, or can be obtained from many garden centres and from WIRES. Once nesting boxes are installed, be vigilant against occupation of by introduced species, such as Indian Mynas. Birds Australia have produced excellent leaflets on nest box design.
Hollow logs can sometimes be found in firewood, or hollows can be created with tools. Rocks can be piled for small mammals and lizards.
Don’t be too tidy in your wildlife garden!
Wildlife needs nesting material that falls from plants. In addition, under the cover of the leaf litter, bark and mulch on the ground is a vast and diverse army of tiny creatures assisting to enrich the soil, and provisding a source of food.
Consider setting aside part of the garden for a wild area where pets are excluded and where shrubs, trees and vines can form a wildlife friendly tangle.
In nature, water is usually found at ground level and a pond of varying depths (2–15 cm) will satisfy the needs of frogs and lizards and most birds and mammals.
Provision of partial shade is important. An overhanging branch will allow birds to survey the scene for safety and a dense prickly shrub nearby will offer protection and escape. Dense vegetation around the pond, such as native grasses, ferns and reeds, along with rocks and logs, will protect small ground animals. Choose the site of a birdbath in the same way, with the safety of birds as your priority.
More tips for a wildlife friendly garden
- Keep pets inside from before dusk until after dawn.
- Build your cat an enclosed playground. Alternatively, place on the collar two large bells on one side and another opposite.
- Spiders, native bees and wasps belong in your garden and have essential roles to play.
- Teach children to observe, respect and enjoy wildlife.
- Avoid using chemical pest controls, including snail bait.
- Keep weeds out of your garden.
- Don’t feed wildlife: feeding can provide an inadequate diet.
- Plant local species where possible; local wildlife depends on local plants.
Your efforts will soon be rewarded by a beautiful natural garden and hours of delightful observation of wildlife.