Bay OK Gardens
We believe that keeping Geographe Bay healthy is everyone’s responsibility.
A healthy bay begins in your own backyard. Creating a low nutrient, waterwise and biodiverse garden is easy.
Check out our garden design below for all the elements of a perfect Bay OK Garden!
Compost and worm farms turn your kitchen and garden waste into valuable organic material for the garden. This material is full of nutrients and will feed your plants, however you should apply at the recommended rates:
- Worm residue – Steep a cup of worm castings in a bucket of water for a day then drain off the liquid to use as a liquid tonic to plants
- Worm castings – Incorporate a handful into the planting holes of young plants or seedlings
- Compost – Incorporate a handful for new plantings or mix in to garden beds
Remember to keep your compost bin and/or worm farm close to the house for convenience.
Productive gardens need plenty of sunlight and often more water and nutrients than other parts of the garden. Wicking beds are a great way to hold on to precious water and nutrients so they are available to plants. They are also raised off the ground to make gardening easier. Crop rotation in your productive garden beds will help control pests and diseases, and improve soil health.
Apply fertiliser only if your plant needs it. Apply at the right time of year, use the right product and only the amount recommended on the product packet. Don’t apply fertiliser before rain when it is likely to become runoff into our waterways.
- Lawn areas – Apply in spring and early autumn if required
- Ornamental exotic garden beds – Apply in spring and autumn if required
- Productive garden beds – Apply quarterly when replanting
- Native garden beds – Apply annually in spring for new plantings
Install a rainwater tank to collect rainwater from your roof, which can be used to irrigate your garden or plumbed directly into your house.
Greywater systems recycle water from your laundry, shower and basins to irrigate your garden through sub surface drip irrigation. Greywater pipes are always purple. If you have a greywater system, you will need to be careful what cleaning products you use.
Reduce lawn space
Minimise plants that have high fertiliser and water needs, such as lawn. Hydrozoning groups plants with similar needs together. It involves classifying garden areas based on the garden’s fertiliser, water and maintenance needs. Identify which areas require more resources based on visual importance or amount of use. Below are some simple hydrozoning principles to consider:
- Minimise plants with high water and fertiliser needs – Generally lawns require more water, fertiliser and maintenance than a shrub bed; similarly with exotic shrubs compared to native shrubs and succulents
- Group similar plants in each hydrozone – Plants should be grouped according to their fertiliser, water and sunlight requirements. For example: lawn and shrubs should be on separate hydrozones
- Irrigate based on hydrozones – Use the identified hydrozones to assist with your irrigation layout. For example, it is recommended that sprinklers are used across all lawn areas and drip irrigation for garden beds
- Use consistent sprinkler heads on each hydrozone – This ensures even water distribution and pressure to maximise water efficiency
- Minimise the amount of hard surfaces
Automated, water saving technologies will help you save water and reduce runoff. Consider the use of:
- Automatic irrigation systems
- Evapotranspiration sensors
- Weather stations
- Rain sensors
- Soil moisture sensors
- Drip irrigation for garden beds
- Gear drive, rotary and fixed spray sprinklers for lawn
Install simple irrigation technologies such as a rain sensor or soil moisture sensor. These can adjust your irrigation watering run times during/ following rain events. There’s nothing worse than seeing sprinklers running during a downpour! Your lawn and plants can’t use excess water (or nutrients for that matter) so it is lost to our stormwater systems.
Mulch, Mulch, Mulch!
Mulch dramatically improves moisture retention by reducing evaporation from the surface of the soil. It also feeds plants essential nutrients as it breaks down, helps to suppress weeds and insulates plant roots from extreme temperature fluctuations.
It is important to maintain an even 7.5 cm deep layer of chunky, coarse mulch across all your garden beds throughout the year.
Fallen leaves and branches make excellent mulch so don’t be too hasty to remove them from your garden! Tree branches can be mulched by putting them in a wood chipper and scattering on your garden beds.
Mature native trees provide essential habitat for local fauna and are perfect for incorporating bird, possum and bat nesting boxes.
Mature trees are a great feature in any garden, adding real estate value and helping to create vertical aspect on our mostly flat Swan Coastal Plain. They also provide critical shade in our urban environment.
Hard surfaces can be replaced with low growing natives in many non-trafficable areas of the garden to allow water to infiltrate and help reduce the amount of potentially polluted stormwater entering our drainage systems.
Other alternatives to impermeable surfaces include crushed gravel, mulch or permable paving.
By reducing the amount of hard surfaces on your property you are helping to:
- Reduce the amount of stormwater runoff and increase groundwater recharge
- Increase the local biodiversity and micro-organism activity in the soil
- Reduce the effect of heat absorption
Attract local wildlife to your garden with bee hotels, nest boxes, water bowls and frog ponds. Frog ponds are great garden features that can encourage and support more than just frogs and help to control pests and diseases. Don’t forget the little guys either – get creative with logs and rocks, and use plenty of organic mulch.
Native verge gardens are a great water efficient alternative to lawn. If you plant these gardens in winter, you don’t need to install permanent irrigation as hand watering should be sufficient during hot periods. The verge is the perfect, unused space to attract biodiversity and show off native plants in flower at all times of the year.
Soil testing will give you the lowdown on what is in your soil. Find out if you have alkaline or acidic soil, and what plants are best suited to your pH. You can find out if you have any soil deficiencies so you can better target your fertiliser and micronutrients application.
WA native plant species are adapted to local soil and climate conditions. This means they require less water and fertiliser to grow well. There is a vast range of native species to suit any area of the garden and even create year-round colour with flowering varieties.