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9 simple ways you can improve Local Biodiversity at home

Listening to the sounds of the different birds in my native verge out the front, gives me some sense of calm that I’m providing a place of refuge and habitat for the local native birds. In the distance I can hear a dove and the ‘caw’ of the ravens that used to dominate our street. Since planting a Coral Gum E. Torquata and E. victrix in my verge with some groundcover plants, we now get a much greater diversity of birds and the morning song is lovely—we get the Wadowadong (Grey Butcher Bird), Wodjalok (Red Wattle Bird), Bandin (honeyeaters), Dowarn (Australian Ringneck—subs-species known as the twenty eight), Dilabot (magpie-lark), Koorbat (magpies), lorikeets (eastern states) and Djitidjiti (Willie wagtails).

The other day as I arrived home, I saw a Dilabot diving and catching a legless lizard from my verge. This is a space that only 7 years ago was a piece of compacted, barren couch grassland.

Wattlebird in a Eucalyptus tree

What is biodiversity and how can we help?

What is biodiversity? This is the definition given by the Australian Museum: Biodiversity comes from two words Bio meaning life and diversity meaning variability. Biodiversity is the variety of all living things; the different plants, animals and micro-organisms, the genetic information they contain and the ecosystems they form.

The South West of WA has been recognised internationally as having some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world (along with those other ecosystems such as the Amazon). We have a huge range of species that exist per unit area of land, particularly in the some of the national parks around Perth.

When we talk about improving biodiversity, it feels like we’re talking about something ‘out there’, something looked after by the government and out of our reach in our urban landscape. Although we do need large, interconnected areas of bushland as well, we can also really make a difference at a local level.

Biodiversity is not just about helping our environment, it’s about helping ourselves

We can support the local birds, insects and reptiles that used to roam (and still do in some areas) across the Swan Coastal Plain by making small improvements in our own spaces.

Not only does this help our environment, it is necessary for our own health—we are intrinsically part of our environment. It’s also been found that supporting nature helps our mental and physical health—this link does give a good overview of the benefits of urban greening and it’s not just about the amount of green space, people get most benefit from more diverse green spaces, rather than just a green lawn (read more at this New Scientist article).

9 simple things we can do:

1. Plant local plants—The relationship between local plant species (flora) and local animal species (fauna) is immense and poorly understood. Timing is everything in the flora / fauna relationship that we often refer to as ecology. Insect life cycles, for example, matched to the seasonal cycle of local plants flowering, producing nectar and pollen before seeding is a delicate and intricate process that helps to drive the continued existence of both local plants and animals. Many cultivars and eastern states natives fail in this area simply because they have not evolved here with the corresponding localised fauna (see this link for help finding native species in your own garden). See this article about planting a local verge.

Always choose local species for biodiversity and ecological function.

2. Plant a tree—the biggest, local tree you can fit in your verge or garden. Sometimes trees get a bad name—but often it is because the wrong species has been planted in the wrong space. Tuarts (Eucalyptus gomphocephala) were once common across areas of the Swan Coastal Plain. They provide a habitat for a huge amount of animals and also great shade and because they are a local tree they do not drop limbs the way some species (e.g. a lemon scented gum from the eastern states might do). They are also a great looking tree.

3. Bring in some logs and a few small rocks into your garden—they provide much needed habitat for small lizards, and insects. Bird boxes, bat box (see this article on how to make one by Gardening Australia). To learn more about the local wildlife you could book a tour with Kanyana Wildlife in the Perth Hills or visit many of other amazing organisation working to improve biodiversity around Perth (e.g., Bibra Lake Wetlands Centre) or Karakamia Sanctuary in Chidlow.


4. If you do need a section of lawn, do not plant Couch Grass (even if it is said to be drought tolerant). It is a very tough, from Africa, and very difficult to remove and competes against establishing native plants. Talk to lawn specialists and choose a buffalo or other variety that has surface stolons (as opposed to the 50+ cm deep roots that couch has)—it will be much easier to remove later as well (without chemical use) if you change your mind.

5. If you’ve decided you need to use chemicals for weeds—for example to remove Couch, we recommend seeking professional advice and using it as part of an integrated pest management approach. For example, making the environment less hospitable for the weed/pest by adding a tree, introducing native plants. Contact APACE as we can help you with practical advice in this area to achieve the best outcome with minimal chemical use.

6. Ants and other insects and spiders are important part of our ecosystem. We sometimes find them pests if they become dominant in numbers, which can happen in artificial environments (paving, concrete). We recommend reducing paved areas, increasing shaded areas, vegetation and trees to bring about a balanced ecosystem. Avoid use of sprays wherever you can because they impact on our native bees and other insects that are key in the ecosystem that supports us.

7. Cats—if you’re considering getting a cat, make sure you consider how you are going to house it overnight—as roaming cats are known to cause a massive impact on the local marsupials, lizards and birdlife. Here is a factsheet from Birdlife Australia.

8. Avoid artificial turf—it is hot, plastic and does nothing for biodiversity. Understandably, there is sometimes a need for a low maintenance, minimalistic solutions. Other better and cooler alternatives:

  • consider stone (Rainbow stone)
  • compacted gravel or limestone
  • hard wood woodchip
  • And shade the area using trees/shade cloth

9. Find yourself a seat in the shade under a tree and listen to the wind, the birds and learn. Here is a story of the New Holland honeyeater by Neville Collard, which explains the importance of these birds in our local environment, they live on the nectar of plants as well as insects and they assist with germination of plants. There are some different sub-species of honeyeater that you might be able to spot as well with different markings. These are two other great resources on birds: Friends of Queens Park Bushland and the Birdlife Australia website. There is the great Aussie Backyard Bird Count from 18–24 October that Birdlife Australia would really like you to be part of.

The best time to plant is in May, early winter so plants have time to establish over the winter period and when it warms up they are settled and ready to grow! Once you have a tree, a few shrubs, you can start to add to the mix you have each year and gradually develop your own little biodiverse ecosystem, at which point it’s time to talk to your neighbour and share some insights and help them make a start as well.

Written by Michelle Donnelly

APACE WA – History and the Name

Have you wondered what APACE stands for?  The APACE name stands for Appropriate (technology), Personal Growth and Community Education. To fully understand what this means, it helps to understand some of the history:

APACE was incorporated in 1985, but began as a voluntary group established by North Fremantle residents in 1982. These residents worked to restore Winter House on the banks of the Swan River, with the help of the Fremantle society and donations from local businesses.

Winter House, North Fremantle, the home of APACE WA

The founders of APACE were inspired by the ideas and activities of UK economist Dr E.F Schumacher who wrote a book ‘Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if people mattered”.  Schumacher was one of the first ‘ecological economists’ who argued against the classical economic theory of continual growth—raising the issues of overpopulation, overconsumption, pollution and resource depletion pointed out the difference between renewable and non-renewable resources (Sustainability, A History, J. Caradonna). Schumacher visited WA in 1977, meeting with the late Christine Sharp, member for the Greens who established the Small Tree Farm in Balingup. One of his few documentaries was made in WA on the logging of old growth forest ‘On the Edge of the Forest’.

In the early days, APACE was part of a national network of technology groups from around Australia formed at the Schumacher Memorial Conference on Appropriate technology in Sydney in 1982. At the time, APACE WA consisted of 14 volunteers, whose function was to gather ideas and expertise, plan projects and provide consultancy skills as required. Their goal was to promote sustainable, local community-based development in Western Australia, using local skills, local resources and technologies that were empowering and respectful of the local environment. Their aim was to make these resources available to disadvantaged groups, including unemployed people. Below is the organisational structure of APACE in early newsletter.

APACE were action oriented in their response to the environmental and social issues at the time, wanting to demonstrate a different way of working and the economic and social benefits of this approach. They were opposed to simply being a lobby group or awareness raising body and were not aligned with any political parties.

One of the earliest projects was the establishment of a community garden in 1982 at Winters House by a group of local residents, the first community garden in Perth. This garden is still part of APACE and has a strong community group of local members.

APACE Community Garden, the oldest community garden in Perth—still in operation

The site in North Fremantle was also used as to demonstrate sustainable living by academic researchers from Murdoch university. This included composting, recycling, alternative energy  (Wind and Solar)—and resulted in the building of the rammed earth building (REB), constructed by volunteers in 1985. For many years, there was a solar housing interest group that met here, involved in designing sustainable houses.

When APACE was incorporated in 1985, the name stood for Appropriate Technology, Personal Growth and Community Enterprise, reflecting values around sustainability, people and assisting others to help themselves at a practical level in the community.  Over time, the end part of the name changed to Community Education, reflecting the change of focus towards community education in native plants, wetland species and assisting Friends Groups at a grassroot’s level in seed collection, storage and planting.

Care for people and environment

The Appropriate Technology part of the APACE name was significant because it represents the early influence of Schumacher and others who argued that the industrial revolution did not need to be a permanent revolution with perpetual growth and society needed a stable, just and ecological sound economy. They argued that the classical economic system had led to huge gaps in inequality and there was a need for a return to ‘good work’ where people could grow, gain job satisfaction from doing the ‘whole’ rather than a part of a job.

This was a big part of the Personal Growth part of the philosophy and APACE name—which has involved providing those that are disadvantaged with an opportunity for ‘good work’ (variety/interesting) in a supportive environment—as well as developing model projects as examples for others to follow.

Tony Freeman (who led APACE for over 30 years) said the aim has always been to be ahead of the game, keeping ‘A pace’ of environmental and social innovation.

The initial appropriate technology strategy on which APACE was based was about attempting to reconcile the need for ecological balance and resource conservation with the need for human fulfillment and work. This has included working with local indigenous people as ultimately their knowledge in living and conserving the ecology of the land is going to be needed if we are to live within the long-term environmental limits of this country. APACE also have a history of working with local friends groups to assist with native seed extraction, processing and cleaning methodologies.


35 years in biodiversity and ecosystem restoration—local species

The focus on local native plants began following the 1988 bicentennial when APACE was involved in growing and planting 10,000 native seedlings for revegetation of the Rocky Bay clifftop heritage trail for the bicentennial year. This led to an accredited nursery being established in 1989 to grow local native plants and APACE went on be the first to grow and supply locally occurring rushes and sedges for wetland revegetation projects.

APACE staff translated the manual ‘Growing Locals: Gardening with Local Plants in Perth, Powell and Emberson, 1996’ into a database that still forms the basis of the local species plant selection and suburb selector on the website. This allowed widespread access to species lists that suited particular soil types – and was a major achievement and the basis of restoring local species endemic to the area in ecosystem restoration.

The nursery has grown to a sale of over 400,000 plants a year of over 400 different native species, most of which are local to the Swan Coastal Plain and taking on 300 volunteers in the last 10 years, supporting Friends groups and providing work for those with mental health or physical disabilities.

Practical and grassroots advice

In the 1990’s APACE started bush regeneration courses, expanding local plant supply and support of friends groups and local council employees. APACE ran the first course in bush regeneration in Western Australia, which then went on to be taught by mainstream landcare courses at TAFE.

APACE now employs experts in native plants to run the nursery, propagate seed, run courses and advise schools, Friends groups and the community—educating and connecting people with local plants – working at the local, practical level in ecological restoration.

We have a podcast here which explains more about APACE in an interview made last year with coordinator Joann Heta:

Do you have any photos from the early days at APACE? We would love to see them if you could drop in or email them through.

Written by Michelle Donnelly, Nov 21


Volunteer Profile: George Finch

George is one of our amazing volunteers at APACE who turns up week in, week out to help in our quest to grow, promote and establish local native plants within the Perth area. George is an ex-Water Corporation employee, always with stories to share, a cheerful smile and a great conversationalist. This is the story of how he came to be involved with Apace some 8 years ago and why he does what he does.

I asked George how he started at APACE.  He said he first came to APACE many years ago to buy plants supplied through the subsidy program.  From that point on he had the idea that the nursery would be a wonderful place to work in as a volunteer. It was only after he retired after 33 years working in various engineering roles at the Water Corporation that he enquired about volunteering opportunities with Apace and he was duly signed up.  He also joined Fremantle Volunteer Sea Rescue, another local and vibrant community-based organisation, at the same time.  George commented ‘out of the 100 million things you could do, APACE fitted the bill for him’ because it was local, active, community based and also provided a great opportunity to learn about native plants.

As a volunteer, George said he finds the work therapeutic and very much enjoys working with the committed and very friendly employees and volunteers from a wide range of backgrounds.  In the nursery, varied work includes potting on, grading and condensing nursery stock and stock maintenance and there is always the all-important break for morning tea.

There’s also the chance to get out on site on occasions for planting and maintenance work. One of George’s favourite sites is the East Fremantle foreshore where he has been involved in planting and weeding, as well as opportunities to interact with the community and promote APACE.

George’s interest in volunteering with community-based organisations actually started in 2007 when he joined a small team of Water Corporation volunteers seconded to work on an irrigation project in a remote rural region of Ethiopia.  George found he was able to utilise his engineering design and construction skills in a very challenging work environment in an amazing part of the world.

At work on the foreshore in East Fremantle.

George also signed up for a plot in the APACE Community Gardens when he started his volunteering work at the nursery.   He has found that having a plot in Perth’s oldest Community Gardens has provided a great opportunity to grow heirloom vegetables and has found this has added to his enjoyment in his work in the nursery. He has also been able to use his knowledge about water systems to assist in making the irrigation in the garden more water efficient. He also served on the management committee at APACE for 3 years.

Growing heirloom vegetables in the Community Gardens at Apace

George finds that whilst working at APACE provides some structure in the week, his volunteering can be put on hold while George and his wife Pri visit grandchildren, travel or go on bushwalks. George and Pri both appreciate varied landscapes and, in their travels, have visited National Trust gardens in the UK as well as ancient irrigation systems in Andalusia in Spain and have walked in the Dordogne Region in France and along mountainous coasts in Italy, Crete and Turkey.

Thanks for continuing to support APACE George, we love your lively conversations and having you as part of the team.

If you’re interested in volunteering at APACE, email with your background, interests and availability.

Creating a native garden using local native plants

It can be really difficult working out which plants to put together to create an aesthetically pleasing native garden, but the main thing is to get started and fine-tune later. I’ve tried to outline some design ideas below though that can help you get started.

Walking recently on the Cape-Cape recently, I took a photo that is likely revegetation in progress, but helps to demonstrate some of the design concepts that we strive to achieve at APACE Natural Design:

Design Tips:

  • Firstly, the foreground has a mix of textures and colours – grey and green shrubs, of about the same size. Note that for native plants, it is the contrast in texture and plant colour that matters more than the flower colour (which may only occur for a few months of the year).
  • Another thing to note, is that in the background are larger shrubs and trees. In landscaping, we usually plant the smaller things in front of the larger things to fill a space (groundcovers and shrubs less than 1m in height) with larger shrubs behind. In a small garden, there is sometimes only room for one shrub layer to screen a fence, but if you’re in the process of deciding on the width of a garden bed, make it a minimum 2m width if you can – as two layers of shrubs will look better and also survive better with less water as they create a cooler environment against a fence.
  • In nature, you often see trees with low groundcovers underneath – which helps the trunk of the tree to become part of the feature – this can look really effective on a verge.
  • Using a mix of local, native plants, means they will flourish and complement each other. From a biodiversity perspective, it also assists to bring in the insects that naturally feed off these plants – which then supports birds and other larger wildlife as well.


  • This second photo above shows how shrubs and tufted species can work together. The grassy Xanthorrea sits in amongst the other shrubs and others are dotted around the landscape as well. There is also repetition of plants in this photo – with grey Olearia axillaris. Repetition of species creates uniformity of design and makes it a calmer more pleasant scene, compared to using too many different species (though eventually you can continue to incorporate a lot of species as your garden becomes established).
  • Planting tufted species in groups such as Dianella revoluta, Pattersonia occidentalis or Conostylis candicans, either under a tree or beyond an initial strong shrub border reflects how these plants occur in nature and can look really effective.
  • Have fun with the layout – and don’t be scared! Gardens are meant to change with time and the main thing is to get started – once you have an area devoted to native plants, you’ll be able to add and remove over time to make the garden more diverse and interesting as you learn what does well.

Written by Michelle Donnelly, Landscape Designer/Environmental Engineer

7 steps to creating a successful native verge in Perth WA

Biodiversity, local plants, less water, more trees—are all fantastic reasons to consider converting your verge over to natives, not to mention adding interest to your house and street—especially if you’ve ended up with the all too common piece of couch grass that dies off in summer and revives to a reasonably pleasant green landscape in winter, with very little maintenance needed in between. However, converting to a native verge is, as you suspected a really great thing to do for yourself and the environment and is also really low maintenance once established—we’re going to outline 7 steps to do a successful native verge conversion.

Figure 1: Native Verge designed by APACE WA

Step 1: Know your landscape and prepare early

Yes, this means get out and kick the dirt and get to know your piece of shared land. Although this land is owned by the Crown and vested in the local government agency (the Council), it’s becoming more and more accepted that as a landowner of the property, you have a shared responsibility for managing this land—and making the most of the space can be really rewarding and as is often the case, this could be the only piece of land that gets enough sunshine to grow some amazing natives on your block.

When you’re out looking at your bit of dirt, give it a light dig with a shovel and consider:

  1. Are there weeds to be dealt with? If so, getting some professional advice before you plant is really important. Start weed management the year before you plant (i.e. Aug– Nov). APACE have full trained and experienced staff that can help you with this.  To create a native landscape (mini-ecosystem) that supports wildlife and native insects, remove as many weeds as you can beforehand to help the native plants—because weeds do compete with natives for nutrients, light and water—and are usually pretty successful at doing so. Weeds that are particularly troublesome are bulbous weeds include soursob (Oxalis) and onion weed, as well as couch grass. Before undertaking any work that may disturb the soil, consult with an  expert—particularly if you have a complex weed problem with bulbous weeds. If you do seek your own expert in weeds, check they have a pest management technician licence endorsed by department of health.
  2. Is the soil native/local? Does the soil look fairly uniform in colour and texture, or is there a lot of building rubble or other bits and pieces in the soil? Does the soil just look like yellow builders sand? If so, you might need some soil amendment when you plant (e.g compost mixed in with the planting hole in a 1:1 ratio).
  3. Is it hard to dig? You may find you can’t get a shovel in very far at all—in which case the soil is likely compacted after lots of use… and will need to be ‘aerated’ by digging with an aerator or rotary hoe or shovel prior to you planting so that roots can push through the soil and get access to air/water/soil and nutrients. This helpful Gardening Australia link does explain more about soil compaction—just note that for coastal soils, our sand is easier to restore by digging than compaction than in clayey soil (more common over east, or in the hills).
  4. Before you do any excavation, remember to Dial Before You Dig—check there are no important and expensive services just below the surface—as can be the case in the verge (power/water/sewer/telecommunications).
  5. Have a look at this Verge-Schedule – this is our best recommendation on the sequence/order of events that are needed to establish a successful, low cost, biodiverse verge.
Couch grass in verge—makes it hard to establish natives as competes for water and nutrients

Step 2: Know your area and local Council guidelines

As we all live together in a community, we do need to consider our neighbours and safety of the people around us—which is where the local Council guidelines come in. Your local Council will have a range of guidelines about what you can and can’t do in the verge that need to be checked. Some local councils now require that a verge plan be submitted for approval prior to implementing any changes in your verge (make sure you check with the Council!).

Councils do typically require:

  • A strip of land for pedestrians along the road kerb (about 1 to 1.5m in width)
  • Max height of shrubs 600–750mm
  • Access to all services (e.g. poles/pits)
  • No tripping hazards
  • No prickly/poisonous plants
Typical detail of Planting setback for Native Verge

Step 3: Have a think about the plants you like

Do you already have a street tree? If not, consider planting one as trees bring a huge amount of benefits, making the street a more enjoyable, liveable environment to walk and play in, as well as improving biological diversity—and the Council may plant one for you! Refer to your local Council website for a list of tree species allowed in your area. This list is based on the aesthetics of the street as well as other practical things, like overhead powerlines or water requirements of the tree. Once you’ve decided on a tree, these are usually located central to your verge area, unless you decide to choose a few small trees instead (APACE have a great range of small trees—such as Fremantle Mallee (Eucalyptus foecunda) or the Rock Mallee (Eucalyptus petrensis).

Often it is great to have a decent size tree (even a Tuart, or similar) to really help the wildlife in your area and provide shade for the street to reduce the heat. If you’re a bit nervous about putting in a large tree, come into APACE and have a chat with the friendly staff who will be able to recommend a species suitable for your verge.

Large Tree in Verge can work in the right location

And finally the plants! APACE specialise in local native plants for your area. Find out what area you’re in by looking at the APACE suburb selector tool on the website and this will give you a list of local native plants for your area. You can also contact APACE for a list of plants that are suitable to verges in your area and can also do a site visit to discuss.

You can also search the online nursery and check the availability list on the APACE website. The best time of year to plant is April/May and usually there is a massive range at APACE at this time of year. Make sure you get your order in early – by February for May planting (3 months prior is recommended).

Step 4: Sequence of Events—Early Preparation!

So far, you’ve done some investigating and research, but now you need to start. This is the recommended timing:

  1. Start weed management the year before you plant (i.e. Jul–Dec).
  2. Engage a Contractor to scrape back topsoil so you have room for mulch (i.e. 50–75mm below any adjacent hard structures such as kerbs). Note—if you have bulbous weeds, you’ll need to consult with an expert on weed removal before disturbing them—to avoid spreading them throughout your garden! Contact to get some advice specific to your site.
  3. Water in Perth is a scarce resource—and we can avoid reticulation by planting at the right time of year in the autumn/winter. You only need to handwater ~1.5L/plant twice per week  for the first two summers and afterwards you will not require the retic—which can be in the order of $1,000 to install. If you keen on retic, an individual dripper system to each plant is the best option as it directs water directly to the stem of the plant (rather than grid-based dripper system). You can contact your local waterwise specialist via the Water Corporation website.
  4. Bring in a good quality mulch that meets Australian Standards AS4454 waterwise mulch and place it at a thickness of 50mm. Do not put down any cardboard or plastic—it stifles the life out of the soil by making it hot and difficult for water to penetrate the soil. You can also ‘cut and drop’ any prunings to use as mulch as well, once your garden is established.
  5. Leave the mulch bed ready for planting, watering occasionally to keep it neat and tidy – its ok to plant any time in winter, we just suggest April/May is the earliest to plant (and its better to wait til the soil is a bit wetted up after rain, so best timing can change depending on the year we’re having).
  6. Then you can select the plants and put in an order so you’re ready to plant.
Good quality mulch protects soil and adds organic matter, which is important when establishing a native garden for the first time – a water wise mulch (large, irregular sized particles), will allow water to penetrate and help plants to thrive.

Step 5: Plant your Plants

If you’re planting a tree—do this first. Then plant the smaller tubestock—some tips for planting tubestock include:

  • Create a planting hole that is twice as big as the pot.
  • Water plant well the night before planting.
  • Tap the top rim of the pot with a spade or on an edge, then turn the pot upside down – the pot should come straight off.
  • Place the plant in the hole so that the top of the plant ~2cm below the surrounding soil, so there is a bowl effect for trapping and directing water to the plant.
  • You can choose to add a slow release native fertiliser (low phosphorus)—e.g. APACE fertiliser tablet, or similar product and add to the planting hole to give plants a boost for the first year, however if your soil is native/good quality (holding water/nutrients), you can do without fertiliser – best practice is to minimise fertiliser additives to reduce the impact on the natural waterways/Swan River.
  • Backfill with soil mix (See note below on Soil Mix) and press firmly around the plant so there are no air gaps.
  • Water in well, taking care not to disturb the soil around the plant.
  • Mulch around the plant (keeping clear of the stem by 5cm or so).
  • Note: if planting into a hillside, it is good to mound soil to create a small basin to collect any runoff and allow watering to infiltrate the soil (see below)
  • See this video on Youtube for a 5 minute explanation on planting tubestock: Tubestock Planting Video

Soil Mix

Mix 1 part compost with 1 part of existing soil mix in planting hole. If replacing soil (e.g if soil has been brought in or is spoil), use a soil mix suitable for natives in garden beds (low phosphorus). Check to see your soil mixes and conditioners meet Australian standards to avoid importing weeds or other diseases.

Step 6: Water and maintain:

All gardens do need some maintenance—even native plants. For native gardens that are not on retic—make sure you deep water (1.5L/plant) twice per week in summer—and if there is a heat wave, give the plants an extra water to get them through. Prune natives regularly 3–4 times/year—but just a tip prune (less than one_third of the branch) and mostly keep the secateurs to the green growth (rather than any woody stems, which will not grow back as well). Prune small plants regularly so they develop in a form you like. Finally, a dose of a native fertiliser (use a slow release, low phosphorus fertiliser) 1–2 times per year in Autumn or Spring—there is no need to apply excessive amounts of sheep manure or other manures as natives are adapted to low nutrient conditions and this may well finish them off!

Review your verge planting the year after in March/April to check on whether there is a need for some weed management  (particularly if Couch grass has popped back up) – as this will prevent it reestablishing in long term. You can also see which plants have done well, infill any areas and add some more sensitive plants for biodiversity in the second year once plants are established.

Step 7: Watch, grow and tweak as you need to

This follows the permaculture philosophy of ‘Small Slow Solutions’—and what we do next is we watch, observe and see which plants do well, how the environment changes as trees grow and we can adjust and maintain the verge over time.  Over time, you may need to replace some plants that are now in a shady spot under a tree instead of in the open sunshine (with a plant that likes shade), or infill some gaps where a plant hasn’t ‘thrived’. Remember that as with all things, growing native plants is a learning experience and the first planting of a verge is like putting in the ‘bones’ and it then becomes fun filling in the gaps with some everlastings, or other favourite plants as time goes on. Note that you may find it helpful to have some areas without mulch cover as would occur in a natural system to allow plants such as everlastings to grow well or native seeds to re-establish.

Enjoy and if you have any questions, feel free to ring the team at APACE or visit the nursery 8AM–3PM on weekdays. You can also look through the information and we have provided some helpful links and documents on the APACE plant advice page here.

Native verges do require maintenance, but are well worth the effort

Written by Michelle Donnelly, Landscape Designer/Environmental Engineer

For more information, contact APACE WA