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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!

Interactive 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

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. 

Fertilise responsibly

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

Conserve water

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

Irrigation efficiency

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

Weather-based technology

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 trees

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

Habitat gardens

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 verges

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

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. 

Native species

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. 

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The headwaters of the Buayanyup River occur in state forest where four tributaries flow through native vegetation before flowing through agricultural land. The lower section has been straightened into drainage channels, before flowing into Geographe Bay at Abbey.

The Buayanyup River catchment has a diversity of land uses, including beef and dairy farming, vineyards and horticulture. Native vegetation and timber plantations occur in the south eastern corner of the catchment, and the growing townsite of Vasse occurs in the lower catchment. Nutrients, particularly nitrogen, enter the river from dairy and beef grazing, dairy sheds and horticulture.

Native species, including the Western Minnow, Western Pygmy Perch , Nightfish, Blue-spot Goby, Gilgie, Smooth Marron, Freshwater Shrimp, Koonac and Long neck turtle, have all been found in the river.

Five Mile

Five Mile Brook is a small waterway in the north of the catchment. It flows seasonally to Geographe Bay near Minninup Beach. Five Mile Brook is surrounded by agriculture, particular beef farming, with some urban areas at the south of Dalyellup Estate.

Five Mile Brook has poor water quality. This is due to sandy soil, which does not retain nutrients well, and extensive grazing agriculture in the catchment.

Water sampling by local school groups has found evidence of macroinvertebrates, tadpoles and turtles.


The Gynudup Brook catchment consists of two main tributaries; Tren Creek and Gynudup Brook. The headwaters of Gynudup Brook are in State Forest, which then flow across agricultural land before connecting with the Capel River west of Bussell highway.

The hydrology of the catchment has been extensively modified, containing many artificial drains to alleviate water logging in winter months. Most of the catchment is cleared for agriculture, and the waterways suffer from poor water quality.

Despite being significantly altered, the waterways in the Gynudup catchment provide refuge for several native species including freshwater shrimp, Western Minnow, Blue Spot Goby, Nightfish, Gilgie and the Long-necked Turtle.


The Capel River is the largest and only perennial river in the Geographe Bay Catchment, receiving groundwater discharge from the Leederville aquifer year-round. Several foreshore reserves of conservation value are situated on the Capel River, including Ironstone Gully Falls.

Land use of the upper Capel River catchment is predominately native vegetation and beef farming. The lower catchment is dominated by beef and dairy farming with pockets of native vegetation and horticulture. The townsites of Capel and Peppermint Grove Beach also occur in the catchment.

The Capel River has relatively good water quality. Carters Freshwater, Smooth Marron, Gilgie, Freshwater Cobbler, Nightfish, Western Pygmy Perch, Western Minnow and Pouched Lamprey can be found in the catchment.


The Ludlow River is the only major waterway to discharge to the Wonnerup Estuary. Its upper catchment lies in the Whicher National Park, after which it flows across the coastal plain through grazing and dairy farmland, horticulture and turf farms.

These land uses contribute nutrients to the river, which suffers from poor water quality. There has been, however, a decreasing trend in nutrient concentrations in the river since 2011.

The Ludlow River retains native aquatic fauna including the Gilgie, Freshwater Shrimp, Nightfish, Western Minnow, Western Pygmy Perch and the Blue Spot Goby.


The Abba River begins in the Millbrook State Forest, flowing seasonally across the Swan Coastal Plain, through the Ludlow Tuart Forest and eventually into the Vasse Estuary. Landuse in the Abba sub-catchment is predominantly beef and dairy farming, with smaller amounts of sheep farming, vineyards and horticulture.

Ecological surveys of the river have found a diversity of native fish and freshwater crayfish including the Western Minnow, Nightfish, Blue-spot Goby, Western Pygmy Perch, Gilgie and Freshwater Shrimp.

The Abba River is categorised as an ‘intervention’ sub-catchment for water quality, where it meets phosphorus targets, but not nitrogen. Fertiliser for pasture is the largest source of nutrients to the river. We work with landholders and our partners to reduce these nutrients by fencing waterways, fertiliser management and dairy effluent upgrades.


The Lower Sabina River flows into the Vasse Estuary. It is separated from its upper catchment, which is diverted into the Vasse Diversion Drain.

The Lower Sabina catchment is small, mostly cleared, with agricultural landuses dominated by dairy and beef farming. The river contributes a significant amount of nutrients to the Vasse-Wonnerup Wetlands.

The river supports Gilgie, Southwest Glass Shrimp, Nightfish, Western Minnow, Western Pygmy Perch and the Blue Spot Goby.

Lower Vasse

The Lower Vasse River flows through the centre of Busselton, extending from the Vasse Diversion Drain at its headwaters, to the Vasse Delta Wetlands at the downstream boundary. The river receives winter flow from the Vasse Diversion Drain through a 900 mm culvert.

The lower catchment is dominated by urban, residential development, while the upper catchment is primarily beef grazing.

The Vasse River suffers from poor water quality and in summer months experiences regular algal blooms. Despite these water quality problems, the Lower Vasse River retains significant ecological values, including a high diversity of fish and native crayfish.

Vasse Diversion

The Vasse Diversion Drain receives water from approximately 60% of the Sabina River catchment and 90% of the Vasse River catchment, diverting flow away from the Vasse-Wonnerup Wetlands and directly into Geographe Bay. These rivers were diverted in the 1920s to protect the Busselton townsite from flooding. The headwaters of these rivers originate in the Whicher Range, then flow across the coastal plain to the diversion drain and eventually to Geographe Bay in West Busselton.

The Vasse Diversion Drain catchment suffers from poor water quality, with phosphorus and nitrogen inputs high. Most nutrients come from the dominant land uses of beef and dairy farming, and smaller amounts from the Busselton wastewater treatment plant.

The upper Vasse and Sabina rivers retain important natural values, including several species of freshwater fish and crayfish. The lower section of the drain near Geographe Bay has important social and recreational value to the community.


The headwaters of the Carbunup River begin on the Whicher Scarp in the Treeton State forest. The river flows in a northerly direction through agricultural land before discharging into Geographe Bay near Siesta Park.

The upper reaches of the river are densely vegetated, however the lower reaches have been cleared and straightened into Lennox River Drain. A weir at the junction of the river and drain prevents saltwater from impacting arable farmland. Due to the dense riparian vegetation and high phosphorus retention index (PRI) of the soil, the Carbunup river has relatively good water quality.

A diverse range of aquatic fauna rely on permanent pools of water that provide refuge over warmer months. Carter’s Freshwater Mussel and Western Pygmy Perch have both been recorded in the river.


The Annie Brook catchment has three streams – Station Gully, Annie Brook and Mary Brook. These streams begin on the Whicher Scarp and Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge, before flowing to the coastal plain where they are artificially straightened into drains that converge at Station Gully before entering Geographe Bay.

The catchment features remnant native vegetation, including some poorly represented vegetation complexes. On the coastal plain, the catchment is mostly cleared for beef farming and smaller amounts of horticulture and viticulture. These land uses contribute nutrients to waterways, particularly nitrogen.

The endangered Dunsborough burrowing crayfish is known to occur in the waterways of the catchment, and surveys have also shown a variety of including the Gilgie, Marron, Nightfish, Western Minnow the Western Pygmy Perch.

Toby Inlet

Toby Inlet is located east of Dunsborough and runs parallel to the coast. It is surrounded by residential areas and is of social and recreational importance to the local community and visitors.

Land use in the wider catchment consists mostly of large rural properties and agriculture. A series of headwaters, originating on the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge, flow across the coastal plain where they become poorly defined. The mouth of the Inlet closes naturally over summer but is opened by the City of Busselton to maintain flushing, as nitrogen levels are currently high.

The Inlet provides habitat for the Swan River Goby, Gilgie and the Dunsborough burrowing crayfish, as well as waterbirds and frogs.


The Dunsborough streams include Meelup, Dolugup, Dandatup and Dugulup Brooks. Although relatively small and seasonal, the streams are significant to the local community.

They currently maintain good water quality due to their low nitrogen and phosphorus levels. However, the streams are at risk from nutrient runoff primarily from urban and rural-residential sources, including septics, due to their proximity to the Dunsborough townsite.

The streams provide a diversity of habitat and food sources for native fauna and are known to support the Gilgie (Dandatup and Dugulup Brooks), Marron (Meelup Brook) and the Blue Spot Goby (Meelup Brook).


Jingarmup Brook is a small waterway that flows seasonally across the eastern slopes of the Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge, through the Eagle Bay townsite to Geographe Bay.

The Jingarmup Brook catchment is categorised as an ‘intervention’ catchment, meeting phosphorus targets but not nitrogen. Native vegetation and beef farming are the dominant land uses in this catchment, which is the southern most region of the Geographe Bay Catchment. 

Water quality is impacted by septics, which contribute a significant amount of the phosphorus load to the waterway, and farming practices. Nitrogen levels are currently high in this waterway. The Meelup Regional Park Management Committee have made significant efforts to restore the riparian zone on lower section of the brook, which supports local biodiversity.