GeoCatch has successfully concluded a five-year project that promotes the benefits of low-nutrient gardening practices to both gardeners and the local environment.
The Bay OK Gardens program has been running in the Geographe catchment for over 12 years. It promotes low-nutrient and waterwise gardens through educational workshops, online resources, garden assessments, and demonstration sites to improve water quality in the Geographe catchment. One of the project’s main aims is to reduce urban fertiliser use by focusing on community behaviour change and raising awareness of Bay OK gardening behaviours.
Nutrient modeling in the Geographe Catchment has shown that during our summer months, urban land use creates one of the highest nutrient loads per unit area of all land uses due to fertiliser applied to lawns and gardens. Winter rains also contribute to nutrient loads from urban catchments as they wash soluble fertilisers into our waterways and eventually Geographe Bay. Future nutrient increases are predicted to come from newly established urban areas as more lawns and gardens are planted.
Gardening expert and author Chris Ferreira presented at some of the Bay OK workshops to help gardeners embrace the Bay OK gardening principles. “With soil amendments such as composted manure, clay, and a thick layer of course, chunky mulch, gardeners in Busselton and surrounds can have a lush, native garden. Following the Bay OK gardening methods will make your garden look great and also look after the environment around us,” said Chris.
Feedback and evaluation at community events have highlighted the project’s value. Participants have indicated an increase in their knowledge and understanding of the importance of the Geographe waterways and the critical role home gardeners have in reducing fertiliser use and runoff. Recent additions to the project are the “Garden Guardians of the Bay”, six local gardeners who have strengthened the campaign message with online information resources for urban gardeners.
Lisa Massey, Bay OK project officer, described some of the success of the project, outlining that the initiatives and activities of the Bay OK project are influencing gardeners’ fertiliser management. “Measurements in urban fertiliser application have shown positive changes. We are seeing gardeners transition to slow-release fertilisers that release nutrients over a longer period of time and are less likely to run off into our waterways. Our Bay OK gardeners are only applying fertiliser in spring and autumn, and never when rain is on the way,” said Lisa.
The Bay OK Gardens project regularly holds workshops to promote actions that protect Geographe Bay and the waterways and tributaries that flow into it. The Bay OK project will continue to work closely with urban gardeners to help them adopt Bay OK gardening practices, raise awareness and educate them on water quality and environmental issues in the catchment. More information on Bay OK gardening and event announcements can be found at geocatch.asn.au.
GeoCatch has worked with many partners to deliver the Bay OK project, including Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, the City of Busselton, Shire of Capel, South West NRM, Water Corporation, Busselton Water, local businesses, gardening industry experts, community groups and local developers.
This project is delivered by GeoCatch, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, in partnership with South West NRM. This project is also part of Healthy Estuaries WA and Revitalising Geographe Waterways. These State Government initiatives aim to support the long-term health of our south-west waterways.