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.
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:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.
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
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 between 7:30AM–3PM weekdays and have a chat with the friendly staff who will be able to recommend a species suitable for your verge.
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:
- Start weed management the year before you plant (i.e. Jul–Dec).
- 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 toconsult with an expert on weed removal before disturbing them—to avoid spreading them throughout your garden! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get some advice specific to your site.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Then you can select the plants and put in an order so you’re ready to plant.
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
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.
Written by Michelle Donnelly, Landscape Designer/Environmental Engineer
For more information, contact APACE WA
- Plan and prepare. Planning and site preparation are the most important aspects of any successful planting. ...
- Lock in a date. ...
- Plant seedlings properly. ...
- Care for your plant babies.
Larger tree species used in diversity plantings (e.g. kahikatea, pūriri) will eventually be the mature forest species and need more room – plant them 5m apart in amongst smaller, nurse species. If you choose to include ground covers and native grasses in your planting, these should be planted 30cm apart.How do you space native plants? ›
What's the right plant spacing? As a rule of thumb, we recommend 1 plant per square foot. If you have a small garden area (under 350 square feet), you will probably be using quart or gallon-sized plants. We suggest spacing quarts 12” apart and gallons 14” apart.How often do natives need watering? ›
When first planted, water natives in with one large watering can, approximately 9 litres of water. Each species of native plant will require different amounts of water. As a rough guide, water every day for the first few days post-planting, the twice a week for a few weeks, then once a week.What is the best soil for Australian natives? ›
Australian native plants have evolved in poor soils and are very sensitive to artificial fertilisers, especially phosphorus. Generally, clay soils are naturally fertile and shouldn't require any added fertiliser, while sandy soils are low in fertility as nutrients leach out with fast drainage.How do you prepare soil for Australian natives? ›
For local indigenous plants
These require very little, if any, soil preparation. Simply get rid of any weeds, loosen the soil and perhaps adding a very small amount of native-friendly (low in phosphorus) organic fertiliser.
Blood and Bone
An organic fertiliser suitable for all gardens including Australian natives. Provides nitrogen for healthy leaf growth and phosphorus for strong root development.
Mulch, Mulch, and Mulch Again
Compost or grass cuttings work well as a tree mulch. Build this layer up a few inches thick, topping it up each spring and autumn. Try to mulch during warm weather – this traps heat into the soil, rather than the cold. Don't forget to also mulch any trees that you have growing in pots.
Home How many trees per hectare? Generally the number of trees planted per hectare will vary from 1,000 to 2,500 trees, but the number will vary hugely, depending on the species and the type of planting.Should you fertilize native plants? ›
Native plants do not require fertilization if sited properly. Many have evolved in poor soils and will become overgrown and floppy if you fertilize. Lush, extra growth is more appealing to garden pests, too! A soil test can help when selecting plants.
- Onions, peas, radishes, lettuce, wheat, garlic, cucumbers, parsley, potato, and dill.
- Lettuce and Cinnamon basil.
- Zinnia hybrida ("Profusion" var.)
- Mizuna lettuce.
- Red romaine lettuce ("Outredgeous" var.)
- Ceratopteris richardii.
Although it is difficult to say exactly how many plants are needed to purify indoor air, Wolverton recommends at least two good sized plants for every 100 square feet (approximately 9.3 square meters) of indoor space. The bigger the plant and leafier the plant, the better.Is Seasol good for native plants? ›
Yes, because Seasol is virtually phosphorous-free it is safe to use on phosphorous sensitive native plants. You can use it on every type of plant in the garden.Can you over water natives? ›
Fact: Too Much Water Will Kill a Drought Tolerant, Native Plant. Most people tend to overwater, especially when they see a plant wilting. Did you know a plant will also “wilt” when overwatered?What is the best mulch for Australian natives? ›
Best Mulch For Native Plants
Wood chip mulch, especially recycled bark, eucalyptus mulch and pine bark mulch, is the best mulch for natives, promoting microorganism activity and enhancing nutrients in the soil.
Once matured, cow manure can be used on all matter of plants, including native plants. Because cows eat grass, their manure is perfect for adding structure and increasing aeration in the soil.Is cow manure good for Australian native plants? ›
Cow manure, which tends to have a low nutrient analysis because, like sheep manure, it comes from animals grazing on grass. This makes it great as a general purpose soil conditioner; and great for phosphorous-sensitive native plants when it's well rotted.What is the best fertilizer for Australian natives? ›
The truth is natives don't like manufactured or chemical based fertilisers that are high in phosphorous. But they do like to be fed, ideally in spring and autumn, either with a specifically designed Australian native plant food or an organic based fertiliser such as blood and bone or pelletised chicken manure.Is mushroom compost good for Australian natives? ›
Due to its formulation, mushroom compost does increase the water-holding capacity of the soil. This is not ideal for plants that like to have the soil dry in between watering. It's also advisable not to use mushroom compost around Australian native plants as most of these are sensitive to soluble salts.How do Australian natives prepare their garden beds? ›
- Removing all weeds as they compete for space and food.
- Digging over the area you are planting in to a depth of 25-30cm, breaking up any clods of soil.
- If soil is heavy clay, add gypsum ( 1-1.5kg/sq. ...
- If your soil is light and sandy, dig in well-rotted compost or a soil conditioner.
Potting mix is meant to stand alone, as opposed to being mixed in with existing soils. It is a self-contained product designed to provide potted plants with everything they need to grow and thrive. Garden soil is meant to be spread around. Mix garden soil in with your native dirt to improve it.Is Epsom salt good for native plants? ›
Recommended by Master Gardeners and used by commercial growers around the globe, Epsom salt – which is a naturally occurring mineral, magnesium sulphate – is a key nutrient for plants, citrus fruits and vegetables, particularly in spring.Is Seasol good for Grevilleas? ›
Watering Young grevilleas in well-drained soil enjoy regular watering. Seasol and Seasol Super Soil Wetter & Conditioner are beneficial during plant establishment; when it is dry or during other periods of stress.Is blood and bone the same as potash? ›
Blood and bone is a popular all-purpose fertiliser that releases its goodness slowly over several months. One drawback is that it doesn't contain potassium, an important nutrient, but you can add it yourself in the form of sulfate of potash.What is the fastest growing Australian native tree? ›
Moving away from gums, the blueberry ash (Elaeocarpus reticulatus) is one of the best fast-growing garden trees as it is evergreen, narrow and quick off the mark. This prettily named tree comes from the rainforest and does indeed have blue berries.What is the fastest growing tree in Western Australia? ›
Some prime examples of fast growing trees are the Japanese maple, dwarf lemon-scented gum or dwarf flowering gum, and the Tahitian lime. You can also grow tall shrubs such as native frangipani or grevilleas.How many trees can be planted in a hectare of land? ›
The trees should be planted within the row at 1.8 m (6 ft) spacing. This will result in a plantation of 2,300 trees per hectare (900 trees per acre).How many eucalyptus trees can be planted in a hectare? ›
For long rotation forestry involving Eucalypts we would recommend a stocking rate of 1,666 per hectare (3 m x 2 m). For short rotation forestry (SRF) you should be looking at closer spacings such as: 2,000 plants per hectare (2.5 m by 2 m) 2,500 plants per hectare (2 m x 2 m)What size is 1 hectare of land? ›
The hectare (/ˈhɛktɛər, -tɑːr/; SI symbol: ha) is a non-SI metric unit of area equal to a square with 100-metre sides (1 hm2), or 10,000 m2, and is primarily used in the measurement of land. There are 100 hectares in one square kilometre. An acre is about 0.405 hectares and one hectare contains about 2.47 acres.Are coffee grounds good for native plants? ›
website creator Spent coffee grounds are increasingly recommended by professionals and gardeners as a sustainable way to improve your garden soil and provide nutrients to your plants. Claims include improved soil structure, an ideal carbon to nitrogen ratio, improved fertility and provision of nitrogen1.
Australian natives need an acid soil with a pH that is around 5 to 5.5 so that they can draw up the nutrients and, in particular, the iron that they need. An application of iron chelate is the best solution and be sure not to apply fertilisers that contain phosphorous.How often should you water Australian native plants? ›
The first 12 months
They may need a good soaking once a week in dry weather. Deep water every so often is much better than a light watering daily and will promote a stronger root system.
This flowering crop experiment began on Nov. 16, 2015, when NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren activated the Veggie system and its rooting "pillows" containing zinnia seeds.Is it better to grow in a tent or room? ›
Since a grow room provides you with much more real estate than a grow tent, you can easily grow different crops under the same room or even grow a huge batch of the same crop.
Having too many plants won't result in anything terrible, and in fact, growing several plants in your home has plenty of benefits. One upside is that they help to purify the air during photosynthesis, when they take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, according to The Mode Mag.Do African violets clean the air? ›
They absorb benzene and are touted as the top plant for ridding the air of the most common indoor pollutant, formaldehyde. Nontoxic to pets, African violets top nearly every list of edible flowers.What happens if you use too much Seasol? ›
You can't overdose on Seasol. It's not a Fertiliser. But it does have amazing healing qualities. One capful in a 10 litre watering can will treat around 4m2.Is Rooster Booster good for natives? ›
NPK Ratio – Rooster Booster has more phosphorous and potassium but less nitrogen. This makes it more suited to flowering plants and less suited to natives that are sensitive to phosphorous.Is PowerFeed OK for natives? ›
PowerFeed is safe to use on all Australian native plants and Proteas. It provides the perfect balance of essential nutrients and amino acids to boost growth, health and vigour, but is low in phosphorus to cater for the needs of phosphorus sensitive plants.How long do cut natives last? ›
Not only are these blooms stunning, they also are long lasting and resilient. People are choosing to purchase Australian natives over traditional blooms for added bang for their buck! With the right care and fresh water in the vase every couple of days, cut native flowers can easily last over two weeks!
Clip the stem below the third node (where the leaf sprouts from), then gently pull off the leaves from the lower two nodes. Leave the leaves at the top. Plant cuttings 18 inches apart, burying the bottom two nodes—where the roots will grow from—beneath the soil.Do natives like Ash? ›
The ash contains a spectrum of trace elements and is very rich in potassium, which is good for flowering - and it's also low in phosphorus, which means it's safe to use on phosphorous-sensitive native plants such as waratahs, banksias and grevilleas.What should you not mulch with? ›
It's especially important to avoid using rocks as mulch around common foundation plants like azalea, hydrangea, and yews; these plants thrive in acidic soil (soil with a pH level below seven).Which mulch prevents weeds the best? ›
Bark mulch is the best choice for use as a weed suppressant as it inhibits weeds in two critical ways. First, by applying a thick layer covering the soil, bark mulch deprives the weed seeds in the soil, and their resulting seedlings, of the sunlight desperately needed to germinate and thrive.What kind of wood is not good for mulch? ›
Types of Wood to Avoid For Mulch
There is the concern that some mulches leach allelochemicals into the soil which may kill nearby vegetation. It is accurate that these chemicals can prevent seed germination or even kill young plants. Black walnut, tree of heaven, magnolia, and eucalyptus all exude allelochemicals.
- Purchase plants or individual plant seeds. ...
- Prepare your space. ...
- Mix sand with the seed mixture. ...
- Rake lightly. ...
- Water the whole area. ...
- Germination should occur in 10 to 21 days.
Natives will need better drainage than just the regular potting mix, but you can use that as the base and then add sand to improve the drainage, as well as some slow-release fertiliser specifically formulated for natives. Three parts regular general purpose potting mix.How do you start a home garden for beginners? ›
- Determine your climate zone. ...
- Decide what to grow. ...
- Choose the ideal garden location. ...
- Acquire basic gardening tools. ...
- Test your soil. ...
- Make your garden bed. ...
- Decide whether to grow from seed or transplant seedlings. ...
- Plant your seeds or seedlings with care.
Scatter wildflower seeds thinly over bare patches of watered soil or in rows in a seedbed to transplant later as small clumps. Barely cover seeds when sown in rows. Or, sow tiny pinches of seed directly into small modules of seed compost and plant as 'plugs'.Can you just throw down wildflower seeds? ›
Unfortunately, you can't just throw wildflower seeds on grass, as the soil needs to be prepared before planting. It is best to remove as much grass as possible from the lawn before putting wildflower seeds down. To give your seeds a good start, it is better to plant them in early spring or fall.
If you're just getting started, and even if you've been growing from seeds for a while, it's a good idea to soak seeds before planting. This can have a dramatic effect on your germination rate and overall success with gardening! Soaking seeds supplies your plants a jump start right at the beginning of their lives.When should I take native cuttings? ›
Plants flower sooner in most cases than seed grown plants. Species difficult to grow from seed are often easily grown from cuttings. Seed is often unobtainable due to insect destruction, as in many pea flowers, or out of reach on a tree. As opposed to seed, cuttings may be collected at any time of year.Do cuttings live longer? ›
If you get a cutting off of a grafted plant, it could live longer or it could live shorter. If you take a cutting from a tree that grows in the wild, it will have a life expectancy that is equal to its parent.What is the best garden layout? ›
The most basic garden plan consists of a design with straight, long rows running north to south orientation. A north to south direction will ensure that the garden gets the best sun exposure and air circulation. A garden that runs east to west tends to get too shaded from the crops growing in the preceding row.