Australia’s wild animals are far outnumbered by its diversity of plants. There are over 18,000 species of flowering plants alone in Australia. Including other types of plants such as conifers, ferns, mosses and plant algae, Australia is home to over 21,000 species – and these are only for species identified so far, there are still many to be described.
Local native species are easy to grow, are adapted to the extremes of our climate, and can offer a lot of colour and texture to make your garden wonderful for you and your Backyard Buddies. Most importantly, a native yard will help create connectivity between patches of habitat for the movement of native birds and animals.
Why do it?
- By committing to help your local wildlife in your backyard, you can create a stepping stone habitat to help them travel around more easily, help them find food and mates.
- The pressures facing native animals have increased dramatically since European settlement. They have lost more than 70% of their natural habitat.
- Offering a safe habitat for native animals in your own garden can help them hang onto their remaining homelands and stay in our towns and cities.
Is it Hard?
- Not at all. There are a plenty of tips you can try that are super easy. Even just doing a couple will be a big help to your local wildlife.
- Backyard Buddies has plenty of resources to help you along the way. Whether it’s a factsheet, links to useful resources on the website or Facebook page, or monthly tips in your B-mail newsletter, join the Backyard Buddies community to receive ongoing help and advice along your journey to creating a habitat haven.
What do I need?
- You don’t need a big backyard to make a big difference. Have a look at the list and see what is right for you.
- Creating a habitat haven is a creative process and there’s often a number of different ways to make a wildlife friendly item for your garden.
- You may already have a lot of items lying around that can help wildlife. Terracotta pipes are great places for lizards to rest, a plastic children’s paddling pool can make a perfect frog pond. Even old bricks can be homes for native bees.
- Instead of binning those pesky gum leaves or jacaranda flowers that just keep falling, they can make great mulch.
- There is a huge variety of Australian animals that rely on tree hollows for safety and reproduction.
- Nest boxes are the next best thing to a natural tree hollow. You can buy one online or build your own. Some of the nest boxes you can choose from include: possum, kookaburra, microbats, wood ducks, native bees and many more.
- Choose plants that are indigenous to where you live. Most councils should have a list of these plants and they might even have a native nursery where you can buy them. The Atlas of Living Australia is another way to find out about local plants.
- Plant shrubs and grasses in dense clumps. This provides protective habitat for more vulnerable species.
- Choose plants that provide food and shelter for birds and other animals. Nectar giving shrubs are a favourite of honeyeaters and other small birds and many provide protection from predators.
- Choose a spot in the garden that receives sun during the morning or afternoon but also has plenty of shade to build your pond.
- Decide whether you want to use a pre-made plastic or fibreglass pond, convert a swimming pool into a natural pond, or create your own with plastic pond liner.
- Reeds and sedges are ideal for the shallows of your pond. They look good, keep the water clean and provide shelter for native fish and frogs, and food for tadpoles. If locally native, try out nardoo, native water lily and water ribbon.
- Place rocks, logs, and upturned flower pots around the pond. Frogs will use these to hide under, safe from predators and to keep cool during the day.
- Install a solar powered light to attract insects for frogs to munch on.
- Many native plants and animals are susceptible to illness and death from pesticides, herbicides, and poisons—so keep them out of your garden.
- Encourage natural pest controllers into your garden, like ladybirds to eat aphids and microbats to eat large quantities of flying insects including mosquitoes, or Blue-tongue Lizards to gobble up snails.
- Remember that while this garden is low-maintenance compared to most gardens, there are some things that will require ongoing work.
- Wait until outside of breeding season (autumn is usually a good time) and check your bird and possum boxes. Give them a clean with non-toxic cleaning products if dirt has built up and add new leaves/sawdust.
- Keep your cats indoors or in a cat run, especially at night when they hunt the most.
- Keep dogs in a secure yard, away from the base of trees if possible so they can’t attack possums, Koalas and snakes, etc
Don’t Feed the Animals
- Feeding native animals mince meat, bread or sunflower seeds can make them very sick, artificially inflate their population, and make them more susceptible to disease.