Archives for Environment

Climbing Fig (Ficus pumila)

5 Best Ficus Plants for Melbourne Landscaping

The genus Ficus, also known as fig, belongs to the family Moraceae and includes about 850 species distributed in tropical and subtropical zones. Figs are woody trees, shrubs, climbers, epiphytes, and Hemi-epiphytic. Ficus are native to the tropics of Asia, Africa, Australia, and Central America. Many Ficus are tall forest trees that are supported by great spreading roots, while some are planted as ornamentals.

Physiology of Ficus

Many Ficus species are evergreen. There are few deciduous members in non-tropical areas. Their leaves are generally waxy and simple and mostly emanate white or yellow latex when broken. Several species of Ficus have aerial roots, and many are epiphytic. The unfamiliar fruit structure, called syconium, is hollow, enclosing an inflorescence with tiny male and female flowers covering the inside.

Fig Wasps ficus fruit

Some native Australian fig trees need fig wasps for successful pollination and the wasps rely on the tree to complete their lifecycle.

An exceptional pollination syndrome describes members of the Ficus genus. Each species is pollinated by and houses a specific wasp. This unique pollination system has an important influence on the tropical forest ecosystem.

Ficus Wasp Fig

In the USA a Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) feeding on ripe fig (Ficus).

When a pollen-bearing wasp leaves a Ficus plant, the fruit quickly ripens, providing an ironic banquet that fascinates a host of mammals and birds However, as a sign of a short lifetime of adult wasps, some trees receive and release fig wasps during the year. The outcome of this pattern results in a steady supply of fruit, making Ficus fruits a critical resource for many animals when other foods are unavailable.

Importance of Ficus

Amongst the species which are cultivated, the Ficus afzelii, F. elastica, F. benghalensis, F. benjamna, F. infectoria, F. lyrata, F. pumila, F. microcarpa, F. ottoniifolia, F. parasitica, F. macrophylla, F. religiosa, F. pyriformis, F. platypylla, F. platiboda, F. laurifolia, F. roxbughii, etc. are grown for their ornamental values, either as landscape plants in the tropics and subtropics or foliage plants used for interiorscaping. Additionally, the Ficus species have also many useful and important natural products which are widely used as food and as medicine.

Medicinal Uses

The Ficus plants are revealed to possess antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-epilepsy properties. The species of Ficus are a significant source of compounds such as tannins, phenols, alkaloids, steroids, flavonoids, vitamin K, stigmasterol, β-sitosterol-d-glucoside, methyl oleanolic, and octacosanol, which are useful in immune-modulatory, hyperlipidaemia, hyperglycemia, anti-oxidant, anti-tumour, and anti-bacterial. Here are the five (5) best Ficus plants which you can grow in your garden for ornamental purposes in Melbourne

1) Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)

The common name of Ficus elastic is Rubber plant. It is native to Southeast Asia. They are not related to the rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis) from which rubber is derived. They contain a latex-like substance similar to the latex-derived Hevea brasiliensis. The latex derived from Ficus elastica is toxic if ingested. It is also harmful to the skin and eyes and irritates them, so be careful when handling these plants. It is a good idaea to wear gloves whenever you handle this plant.

Ficus Elastica

Ficus Elastica (Rubber Plant) is an attractive indoor plant. Very easy to propagate, they are also tolerant of low light and dry air indoors.

 

Due to the large and glossy leaves, the Ficus elastica is the exotic and decorative choice for outdoor, but its limited hardiness makes it too delicate to plunk in a sunny yard. Ficus elastica is relative to the banyan tree and grows aerial roots like a banyan. The height of this plant is up to 100 feet tall. The tree has broad oval-shaped and shiny leaves about 12 inches long. Most leaves were of dark green, but due to new cultivars, some variation was observed. Small white flowers are common when the trees are grown outdoor but rare when grown indoors. The trees do not produce fruits outside their native range because the fig moth pollinated the flower is found in Southeast Asia.

  Caring for elastica

The plant requires full sun or partial shade to grow outdoors. They favour heat and humidity, so covering the roots in the 2-inch layer of mulch should be good for it, due to which the sol will moist for a longer period. Watering the tree in the morning is best because water on leaves during the night is an invitation to diseases. After three months with a balanced fertiliser such as 10:10:10 NPK during the growing season, fertilising the tree is better. Remove the dead leaves and branches to avoid diseases and insect infestation.

Uses

The rubber plant (Ficus elastica) is attractive. In addition to that, there are several benefits which this plant can provide you.

  • Air purifiers: Rubber plants can absorb and convert airborne chemicals into harmless ones. It increases the breathable oxygen and eliminates microbes from the air.
  • Air Cleaning: Due to the large surface area of the rubber leaves, they absorb air-containing pollutants and chemicals.
  • Inexpensive: The rubber plant is not expensive. You can easily afford and manage it.
  • Anti-Bacterial: Studies showed that about 1800 kinds of bacteria are present in the air. The rubber plant can reduce bacteria from the air up to 50%.
  • Waxy colourful foliage: You can decorate your garden with these eye-catching plants. Their leaves are waxy and slippery to touch.

    2) Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)

Ficus Benjamina, commonly known as Weeping fig, is a native species to tropical Southeast Asia which is generally grown indoors, but I can grow up to 60 feet tall and 60 to 70 feet wide when grown outdoors. The dense, rounded canopy and elegantly drooping branches of weeping fig made it relatively famous as a landscape tree.

Ficus benjamina

Ficus benjamina as an indoor plant is great for interior decoration.

 

The thick, shiny, two to five-inch long, evergreen leaves kindly cover the long branches, and the small figs ultimately turn a deep red. Branches will weep towards the ground, making a canopy so thick that nothing rows below it.

Caring of Ficus Benjamina

Weeping fig needs full sunlight and fast-draining, productive and loamy soil. With the proper attention, these evergreen trees will flourish outdoors. When the 1-2 inch of the topsoil becomes dry, then water is necessary for this tree. Keep the soil equally humid, avoiding dryness but never damp. Fertilise the tree once in the growing season with 10:10:10 NPK slow-release fertiliser. Pull the weeds growing around the tree and eliminate any dead plant material on the ground beneath the tree’s canopy. Prune the weeping fig each year in the late winter just past to when vigorous, fast-growth starts. Checked the leaves consistently for whiteflies, brown to white scale, green aphids, etc. Spray infestation with insecticidal soap or neem oil to eliminate pests.

Uses for Ficus Benjamina

  • Weeping fig contains some bioactive substances such as flavonoids, vitamin A and C, sugars, and enzymes which show anti-microbial, anti-pyretic, and anti-dysentery properties.
  • This tree is an air purifier and particularly filtering formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene.
  • Indigenous communities use the extract of weeping fig leaves and fruits to treat respiratory and skin diseases.
  • It is also used for anti-inflammatory, vomiting, piles, malaria, and cancer treatment.
  • Weeping fig is inexpensive and easy to take care of it.

3) Climbing Fig (Ficus pumila)

Ficus pumila, usually known as climbing fig or creeping fig, is a general vigorous, fast-growing evergreen ground and wall cover vine that can climb up to 20 feet or more when grown outdoors. The presence of dense, fast-growing small dark green and overlying leaves on fat stems makes the climbing fig a preferred vine to grow on the walls, where it gives to a delicate shape in its early growth stages.

Climbing Fig Glen Iris

A Climbing Fig (Ficus pumila) growing on a brick wall in Glen Iris.

Climbing figs can also be grown as a ground cover growing to around 50mm high. It is later developing larger leaves and woody growth. Creeping fig developed as a ground cover needs consistent pruning along the ends to keep it well-ordered and within the boundaries.

Caring for Ficus pumila

The partial shade or sun is suitable for Ficus pumila to grow outdoors. Full sunlight or complete shade is not always the best choice for this plant. A few months are required for the newly planted Ficus pumila to establish before sending out vigorous shoots. Young growth can cover a wall in two to three years. Ficus pumila does not need frequent water during the cold season. During summer, it should be watered regularly. The main trick is to avoid over-watering. Climbing fig will latch onto a vertical surface with tiny tendrils and be trained by pruning to stay flat. Two or three times a year, clip away new layers to encourage ore growth and prevent leaves from dark green colour.

Uses for Ficus pumila

With the addition of ornamental uses, Ficus pumila has the following medicinal benefits.

  • The frit of Ficus pumila is used for the production of jams and jellies.
  • Their latex has anthelmintic (the group of anti-parasites that expel parasites worms from the body) properties.
  • Stems and leaves are used in traditional Chinese medicine as a tonic and to treat fever.
  • Leaves are used in Japan in beverages to treat diabetes and high blood pressure.
  • A decoction of fruit, stem, and leaves is used to treat joint pain due to arthritis.
  • Roots used to treat bladder problems and persuade urination.

4) Moreton Bay fig (Ficus macrophyla)

Moreton Bay fig (Ficus macrophylla) is one of Australia’s most widely planted natives, growing naturally in coastal New South Wales and southern Queensland. Moreton bay fig is a huge extensive spreading, broad crowned evergreen tree growing to a height of 10-15 metres and a similar canopy spread.

Moreton Bay fig

The inclined roots of the Ficus Macrophylla create a dramatic garden feature when lit with garden uplighting.

The trunks are frequently strengthened, and the roots incline to grow along the surface. In moist or humid conditions, aerial roots form. The leaves, the tree’s main feature, are 15-25 cm long by 5-10 cm wide and dark silky green above and lighter and rusty coloured below.

Ficus macrophylla Morton Bay Fig

Ficus macrophylla Morton Bay Fig in Royal Park Melbourne.

 

Caring of Ficus macropyla

Although it is quite easy to care for and is generally resistant to numerous pests and diseases, it does not mean that we can leave it without any care at all. Ficus macrophylla develops in good condition. You will require well-drained, moist soil and in an area where there is plenty of natural light. It has a huge root system; therefore, it is necessary to have a plane for big space where it will be located. It does not need too much watering since it is a drought-resistant plant. So it is perfect for those places where rain is not very frequent.

Uses for Ficus macropyla

  • The Moreton Bay fig plant has been extensively used in public parks and big lawns in frost-free areas.

5) The Common Fig (Ficus carica)

Ficus carica, the common fig, is a rapidly growing tree spread by both seeds and cuttings. It is known to be invasive to Australia. It has been cultivated since ancient times and is now widely grown worldwide, both for its fruit and ornamental plants.

Ficus carica

Ficus carica, the common fig, is a rapidly growing tree spread by both seeds and cuttings.

This fig plant is a small deciduous tree or large shrub growing up to 7-10 metres tall. The leaves of this plant have five deep lobes. The fruit is tear-shaped, having green skin which turns purple or brown when ripened. The fruit is sweet soft flesh containing numerous crunchy seeds.

The Common Fig

The leaves of The Common Fig have five deep lobes. The fruit is tear-shaped, having green skin which turns purple or brown when ripened. The fruit is sweet soft flesh containing numerous crunchy seeds.

 

Caring for the carica

A warm, temperate region is favourable for Ficus carica. Porous soil having good drainage properties is suitable for this plant. A minimum of 8 hours of direct sunlight is required for this plant to flourish. The dry season, as well as the cold season, is also suitable. A young tree can die in chilly temperatures. The requirement of water can be completed with rainwater or underground water. However, do watering if you notice the signs of drought stress. The water requirement is dependant on weather and soil nutrients. The tree requires regular pruning but only during the first years. Ideally, it would be best if you pruned it before the spring blossoms. Once the tree is established, avoid pruning it.

Uses for carica

Some of the important uses of fig (Ficus carcia) are given below.

  • Fruits are a great source of phosphorus, iron, calcium, and fibre (when dry)
  • Studies showed that fig fruit is used worldwide to treat several diseases such as gastric problems, cancer, and inflammation.
  • Ficus carica represents an important source of biochemically active compounds, which are practically used to treat and prevent various ailments like anaemia, cancer, diabetes, liver diseases, paralysis, skin diseases, and ulcers.
  • Fig fruit can be used as the main ingredient for fresh smoothies.

 

Related Landscaping News from Red’s Landscaping Melbourne

Xanthorrhoea The Australian Grass Tree

 

Commercial Landscaping of Public Spaces.

 

Banksia Coccinea Garden Ideas

 

References and more reading about Ficus

Fig Wasps – The Australian Museum

 

 

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rooftop garden

9 Reasons to choose a commercial rooftop garden

The Rooftop Garden is now a common site in modern commercial landscaping. This is not surprising as there are many great reasons for having one.

The Rooftop Garden

It is a type of garden which build on the roofs of the buildings. It means that roofs cover with plants such as trees, shrubs, bushes, and grass. We can also say that a roofs garden is the environment or nature in the sky. The rooftop garden is an excellent technique to improve the urban areas of the building by using the landscape design, which can convert the outmoded site into a valued space that delivers ecological and economic facilities. The possible solution to the urban crisis is a rooftop garden.

Types of Rooftop garden

There are three types of rooftop gardens.

  • Extensive Roof Garden

The extensive roof garden is suitable for those roofs that bear little capacity. The cost of an extensive roof garden is lower as compared to other types of the roof garden. The plants used in this type of garden are not very deep, and their nutrients demand is low. This type of garden is familiar with residential homes.

greenroof

Aerial view of rooftop garden in urban residential area

  • Intensive Roof Garden

In this type of garden, all the ground garden things such as bushes, lawns, perennials, and trees, can be planted. In this type of garden, there is no limitation of design and individuality except a few things that must be considered. The intensive roof garden is expensive as compared to the extensive roof garden. These types of gardens are mainly found in commercial buildings.

skyscraper rooftop garden

Green corner with chairs and potted plants and trees on rooftop of skyscraper

  • Semi-Intensive Roof Garden

This type of roof garden falls in between extensive and intensive roof gardens. The cost of this type of garden is higher than an extensive roof garden but lower than an intensive roof garden. Various grasses, herbaceous perennials, and shrubs can be planted in a semi-intensive roof garden whereas, bushes and trees are missing.

 

Roof garden with green plants and silver which balls and wooden terrace with rest chairs

Roof garden with green plants and silver which balls and wooden terrace with rest chairs

 

9 Reasons to choose a commercial rooftop garden

A rooftop garden provides a smart and easy way to enjoy a good environment, stunning view, and satisfaction in the city’s heart. Beyond the decorative benefits, several other significant and inspiring reasons force you to establish a rooftop garden on your building. Some of these reasons are given below.

  • Energy saving for cooling

“The urban heat island effect” is a phrase used to define what occurs to an urban building as it speedily absorbs heat from the sun. The rooftop garden significantly decreased the use of energy. Roofs of concrete and tarmac retain heat and increase the temperature up to 10ºF than the surroundings, whereas green roofs decrease the heat gain by shading, transpiration, insulation, and thermal loss. Research showed that the green tops of Chicago’s buildings reduce the need for air conditions up to 10% (Liu and Baskaran, 2003). In another study, green roofs decreased solar heat gain by as much as 95% and reduced the cooling needs from 25 to 50% (MacKenna).

  •  Reduction of emission from power generation

The primary harmful emission from electric power generation includes carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (NO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), small particulate matter and volatile organic matter. In these, some are greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming and climate change, while some contribute to the degradation of air quality. Studies showed that electricity’s total carbon emission factor is 422 g/kWh, including 418 g/kWh for CO2, 0.006 g/Wh for CH4, and 0.014 g/kWh for NO2. Conserving energy due to green roofs reduces the emission of these harmful gases.

  • Storm Water Runoff Management by a Rooftop Garden Installation

Green roofs significantly decrease the runoff of the rainwater by retaining it, as a result, the risk of urban flooding is reduced. The retaining water capacity of the green roof depends on climatic conditions (i.e., frequency, volume, and intensity of rain) and the substrate of the garden (i.e., depth, drying rate, and saturation). Research showed that the rates of monthly water retention varied between 40% and 100% on two green roofs in the Neuse River watershed (Moran et al., 2003). In another report, Simmons et al. (2008) stated that among six different extensive green roofs vegetated 4 inches, the highest runoff between 88% and 44% for medium and large rain events.

  • Air Quality Improvement

Green roofs significantly improved the quality of air through adsorption. Nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, airborne particulate, and ozone levels have been presumed to decrease due to the roof garden’s presence. The result of a research study showed that approximately 109 hectares of roof gardens eliminate a total of 7.87 metric tons of air pollutants annually in Toronto, Canada (McPherson, 2008). In another study, Yang et al. (2008) determine pollution removal by the roof garden in Chicago. They reported that about 1675 kg of air pollutants were removed by 19.8-hectare roof gardens within one year, in which 52% of the total was O3, 27% NO2, 14% airborne particulate, and 7% SO2. They concluded that the maximum air pollution removal was recorded in May, whereas the minimum removal of pollutants was observed in February.

  • Extended the building life and reduce maintenance

Usually, roofs of the building are uncovered to the sunshine, rainfall, snowfall, and numerous other components on a consistent basis. Due to these factors, the roofs of the buildings need maintenance and repair after intervals of few years.

Generally, a roof garden protects the top of a building from these factors. The waterproofing material underneath a rooftop garden has protected the roof from light, temperature, fluctuation, and physical damage. That’s why roof gardens can increase the building life and decrease maintenance. Studies showed that roof gardens extend the life of the existing fabric up to 20%.

  • Relaxation and Happiness

Due to roof gardens, a person has direct contact with nature in extensive crowded areas. After a hard-working day, spending some time in nature relaxes a person and enhances his mental health. Studies showed that having regular contact with green spaces and wildlife in urban areas directly impacts mental health and happiness. Additionally, we mentioned early that rooftop gardens improve the air quality and water, which reduces the individual’s stress.

rooftop garden

A well-designed roof top garden can add enormously to the enjoyment of life of the users . Group of gardeners tending to crops.

The results of the research study showed that the rooftop garden on the commercial building enhances the satisfaction of the occupant and increases their creativity, productivity, and physiological well-being. Fewer stress levels also mean happier and more productive employees and easier employee recruitment for companies.

 

Rooftop garden, Rooftop vegetable garden, Growing vegetables on the rooftop of the building, Agriculture in urban on the rooftop of the building

Rooftop garden, Rooftop vegetable garden, Growing vegetables on the rooftop of the building, Agriculture in urban on the rooftop of the building

  • Increase the value of the property with a Rooftop Garden

The rooftop garden increases the sale and rental price of a building. The most noticeable benefit of a roof garden is its valuable pleasantness that improves the cost of the structure it occupies for a relatively modest expenditure. Researchers reported that a roof garden typically ads15-25% more value to the property in the high-end neighborhood.

colourful cityscape rooftop garden

A colourful city rooftop garden.

  • Provide diverse habitat

When planted indigenous vegetation, Roof gardens can provide a significant environment for intrinsic bird and insect populations. Green roofs create a flourishing eco-friendly habitat. Each green roof supports varying habitats, dependant mainly on the type of vegetation included. Green rooftops might also be the stop of migrating birds. A research study showed 172 different species of birds and other wildlife in eleven various green rooftops.

wooden pergola

Rooftop garden in urban setting

  1. Sound Insulation with a Rooftop Garden

Sound is vast destruction, especially in a commercial building. Workers in a commercial building do not want to listen to the rumble of heavy traffic outside their office. Similarly, if you are in your home, you would undoubtedly not appreciate the roar of jets or the noise of the heavy traffic late at night. A green roof provides an extra layer of insulation. According to research, it will absorb up to 30% of environmental noise pollution. You can get on with work free from destruction or sleep more soundly in your bed at night.

 

Rooftop garden – Frequently Asks Questions

How do you build a Rooftop Garden?

The rooftop garden is an ideal way for urban gardeners to expand their space. It makes good use of frequently unused and wasted space. There are a few things to keep in mind when creating a rooftop garden.

Start with a plan: Before you head to a nursery, consider whether you wish to install raised beds or would rather garden in containers and approximately how many of each you would like to have.

Consult with a building engineer: It is a good idea to consult with an engineer to ensure that the roof can support the weight of your garden and that it is well waterproofed.

Lightweight materials: If the building can take the extra weight of rooftop garden. So it would be best if you tried to use as little weight as possible. Use plastic, fiber glasses, and foam planting containers. Use lightweight potting soil rather than garden dirt.

Check your access: You will need easy access to the roof to transport materials, tools, soil, and plants up and down. A narrow, rickety staircase may be a challenge.

Use solid and long-lasting materials: Opt for larger pots, such as drums or recycled paint buckets for containers. If installing raised beds, aim to make the beds at least 10 inches deep to ensure adequate soil for root growth.

Find a water source: Rooftop beds and containers will dry out quickly and must be watered daily during the hottest parts of summer. If desired, an automatic watering system can be set up to reduce the time spent watering.

Incorporate Windbreaks: Keep in mind rooftop garden will be considerably windier than a typical garden. So you will need to incorporate windbreaks into your rooftop garden design. Try using trellises or some other latticed windbreak for your rooftop garden.

Pick the suitable planting medium: In rooftop containers and raised beds, soil mixed with a bit of cocopeat is your best friend. Not only does it hold water, but it is also lightweight and would not compact over time.

If you keep these things in mind, you will find that your rooftop garden can provide a lovely and great place for you.

Construction of a Commercial Rooftop Garden at Habitus Apartments South Melbourne

 

 

What are the benefit of a rooftop garden?

There are various environmental, commercial, and physiological benefits of rooftop gardens which includes

  • Increase access to safe outdoor green space
  • A venue for urban food production
  • Promotion of individual, community, and cultural diversity
  • Area for study and horticultural therapy
  • Improve the quality of air and absorption of carbon dioxide
  • There is usually good sun exposure
  • Support for a rainwater collection system and reduce the run-off of stormwater
  • They make use of unused or underused space.
  • A rooftop garden helps to decorate your rooftop, which will be a relaxing gateway
  • The rooftop provides fresh, organic, and healthy fruit and vegetables, a real gift in urban areas.

Are rooftop gardens expensive?

In my opinion, it may be and maybe not. It depends on you whether you want to build an extensive rooftop garden or intensive. The cost of the expansive roof garden is less as compared to an intensive rooftop garden. The intensive roof garden cost depends on size, use of construction materials, and garden design. Although the initial cost of installing an intensive roof garden is high, it pays itself. Whether you are installing a rooftop garden for pleasure or practical purposes, you will be rewarded with a marked reduction in energy consumption and power bills as well as an overall increase in quality of life.

Do green roofs need drainage?

It has been reported that the soil in the rooftop garden can retain 15-20% of the rainfall for a two to three-month period. Due to these conditions, it is often misconceived that roof drainage is not required on rooftop garden systems. This theory is not only incorrect but also dangerous. The water needs to be removed from the system to observe the structural limitations of the building. The rooftop garden plays a vital role in slowing down water runoff from the roof to the city’s storm sewer system but does not absorb or consume the whole water. That’s why drainage is essential in green roofs.

Related Landscaping Ideas from Red’s Landscaping and Civil Pty Ltd

4 types of Eco-Friendly Concrete

 

Eco garden: Gardening Made Easy

 

Eco Pools: Nature pools for the eco conscious

 

13 Best Reasons To Preserve Balwyn Urban Wetlands

© Red’s Landscaping Melbourne – Quality Landscapers Melbourne

References

MacKenna, E., Green Roofs: Energy Saving and Much More, http://hubpages.com/hub/Green_Roofs_Energy_Savings.

Liu, K. & Baskaran, B., Thermal performance of green roofs through field evaluation,
Proceedings for the First North American Green Roof Infrastructure Conference, Awards and Trade Show, May 29–30, 2003 in Chicago, IL, pp. 1–10.

Liu, K.K.Y., Energy efficiency and environmental benefits of rooftop gardens. Construction
Canada, 44(2), pp. 17, 20–23, 2002.

Moran, A., et al., A North Carolina field study to evaluate greenroof runoff quantity, runoff
quality, and plant growth. World Water and Environmental Resources Congress and Related
Symposia Proceedings of World Water and Environmental Resources Congress 2003

Simmons, M.T., Gardiner, B., Windhager, S. & Tinsley, J., Green roofs are not created
equal: the hydrologic and thermal performance of six different extensive green roofs
and reflective and non-reflective roofs in a sub-tropical climate. Urban Ecosystems, 11, pp. 339–348, 2008.

www.roofhippie.com/21-pros-cons-roof-garden

 

https://thriveglobal.com/stories/making-a-sustainable-impact-with-rooftop-gardens/

 

www.toddhaimanlandscapedesign.com/gardning resources/10 key benefits of roof gardens

 

 

 

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Landscaping Balwyn North

5 tips for Drought Tolerant Landscaping in Melbourne

To understand Drought Tolerant landscaping, we need to first understand some of the technical terms in the world of soil chemistry and how that affects drought tolerance.

 

  1. “Plant Available Water” “PAW” Is the amount of water in the soil that is available for the plants and is between the water capacity and the plant wilting point or crop lower limit.
  2. “Plant Available Water Capacity” PAWC is the maximum amount of moisture that can a particular soil can hold 

 

1.     Organic Matter helps drought tolerant landscaping.

 

Whether you have a clay soil or a sandy soil, your garden will benefit from organic matter.

The soils ability to hold moisture will increase with the addition of organic matter. The additional organic matter works in two way. Firstly, organic matter has a higher water holding capacity than mineral soils. Secondly, the organic matter improves the soil structure allowing moisture to pass through the soil to the plant roots. In some cases, doubling the amount of organic matter in the soil can result in around 25% more water storage capacity.

Drought tolerant landscaping and the effect of organic matter.

Drought tolerant landscaping and the effect of organic matter. Increasing organic matter increases the amount of moisture that can be stored in the soil.

Soil Texture and Composition

Soil texture and composition also has a big effect on water storage capacity. Sandy soils with low percentage of clay and low percentage of organic matter are very poor at storing moisture.

Soil texture and the amount of moisture that can be stored in the soil.

The relationship between soil texture and the amount of moisture that can be stored in the soil.

Imported Topsoils

Often imported topsoils purchased to landscape your garden will be sandy loams. These are great soils for high traffic lawn areas, especially for the top 50mm of soil. If using imported topsoil for garden beds, mix the soil with some of the existing soils by cultivation of the subsoil to boost the clay content. This can also be done with the subsoil layers of the lawn areas. Also, order imported topsoils with a good percentage of organic matter included in the mix. Always use imported topsoil to Australian Standard (AS4419 Soils for Landscaping & Garden Use) and use mixes with higher levels of organic matter for garden beds.

 

The Effect of Clay in your garden soil

Clay soils can hold much more moisture than sandy soils. The fine clay particles are less than 2 microns, but there are so many clay particles in clay soils that the total surface area is much higher. The fine particles however, make it more difficult for the plant roots to penetrate the soil to extract the moisture. This results in the increase in the plant wilting point in high clay soils. Again, organic matter will help improve the texture of the soil so that roots can penetrate to access the moisture. If you have a reactive clay soil, then cultivating gypsum into the soil will also help.

 

Negatively charged clay particles repel each other.

Negatively charged clay particles repel each other.

 

 

2.     Mulch

According to a study by the University of Florida, mulch can reduce water losses by evaporation by up to 30%. Mulch however, does much more than just reduce evaporation. By rotting down into the topsoil, mulch adds to the organic matter in the top layer of soil. Mulch also greatly reduces erosion of the topsoil and helps to keep plant roots cooler by reducing the sun’s heat radiation into the lower layers of the topsoil. Mulch also plays a role in suppressing weeds, but if weeds do grow, they are much easier to remove.

Using Mulch for Drought Tolerant Landscaping

Using Mulch for Drought Tolerant Landscaping. Mulch also reduces erosion and weed growth as well as adding to the organic matter as it rots down.

 

Groundcovers

Groundcover plants can play a similar role to mulch in reducing the heat penetration into the soil and reducing evaporation from the soil.

Myoporum parvifolium or creeping boobialla is a ground cover that makes life difficult for weeds.

Myoporum parvifolium or creeping boobialla is a ground cover that makes life difficult for weeds.

3.     Drip Irrigation System

There was a time when an irrigation system meant garden sprinklers spraying huge amounts of water everywhere. This led to a great deal of wasted water with much of the spray landing on paths and driveways. Evaporation of the water from the surface of the garden was another cause of waste. Modern computer controlled closed loop drip irrigation systems are much more efficient.  With modern irrigation systems, water be delivered directly to the root tips.

Drought tolerant landscaping - Irrigation drip system

Drought tolerant landscaping – Irrigation drip system delivers water to the right place.

 

Water supplied to where it is most needed.

The plant uses osmosis to absorb water from the soil. The root hair cells, which are mostly near the root tips, are adapted for taking up both water and mineral ions. Part of this adaption is the large surface area of the root hairs exposed to the soil. Older root hairs tend to die off, so most of the living root hairs are concentrated near the root tips. Placing the irrigation drippers near the root tips means that water can be absorbed more efficiently.

 

Drought tolerant Landscaping -Osmosis and transpiration

Drought tolerant Landscaping -Osmosis and transpiration. The Root hairs near the tips take up the water and nutrients.

 

Closed loop computer control irrigation systems

Modern computer-controlled systems use feedback from remotes sensors to determine the water requirements for plants on each channel. Depending on the systems, sensor measure soil moisture, temperature, humidity and rainfall to estimate plant water requirements. Some new commercial irrigation systems in agriculture are using Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning to irrigate crops more efficiently.

irrigation system

 

 

 

4.     Drought Tolerant Plants

Many plants have evolved to cope with dry conditions or the occasional drought. This includes many Australian Native Plants, Mediterranean Garden plants or plants from the dry parts of America and especially Mexico.

 

Drought tolerant Australian Native Plants

Amongst the Australian Native plants, Xanthorrhoea (Grass Tree) and Anigozanthos (Kangaroo Paw) have outstanding ability to survive in dry sandy soils.

Australian yellow kangaroo paw flower (Anigozanthos pulcherrimus) in front of a grasstree

Australian yellow kangaroo paw flower (Anigozanthos pulcherrimus) in front of a grasstree

 

There are also many Australian Native grasses like Lomandra that are great for dry conditions.

 

Our favourite plants dry conditions in Melbourne gardens are the following;

Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) – The Star Jasmine is moderately drought tolerant once it gets established. This evergreen climbing plant can be grown either as a vine, that can grow to more than 6 metres high, or as a ground cover. It can be grown in either partial shade of full sun.

Star Jasmine Trachelospermum jasminoides

Star Jasmine Trachelospermum jasminoides

 

Climbing Fig (Ficus pumila) – The fast growing climbing fig is tolerant to salt spray, drought and partial shade. This makes it a great plant for coastal gardens in suburbs like Hampton. It will grow to more than 5 metres under ideal conditions and can also be grown as a ground cover.

 

Drought Tolerant Landscaping Climbing Fig (Ficus pumila)

Climbing Fig (Ficus pumila)

 

Waterhousia floribunda or Weeping Lilly Pilly – Generally, the Lilly Pilly is a hardy and drought tolerant hedging or screening plant once it is fully established. It is a great Australian native alternative to the buxus hedge or Murraya. Despite being a rainforest plant, Waterhousia floribunda will survive a few dry spells once it is fully established. This is one of our favourite Australian drought tolerant plants.

 

Weeping Lilly Pilly Waterhousia floribunda

Weeping Lilly Pilly Waterhousia floribunda

 

Salvias like Salvia Leucantha (Mexican Sage Bush) are generally very drought tolerant. There are only a couple of salvia varieties that are not drought tolerant. The Leucantha is an Autumn flowering perennial which can add colour to your Melbourne garden in early May. Salvias can handle subtropical as well as temperate climates. This makes them a good plant for temperate climates like Melbourne.

 

Salvia leucantha purple flowering shrub

Salvia leucantha is a purple flowering shrub growing to around 1 metre tall.

 

 

Lomandra longifolia “tanika” is a hardy Australian Native grass that looks great and is tough as well as drought tolerant. With attractive blue-green foilage and yellow flowers in Spring, it is ideal for mass planting, but can also be planted in individual tufts.

The green lomandra makes a great contrast with this grey stone wall.

The green lomandra mass planting makes a great contrast with this grey stone wall.

Poa labillardierei (Common Tussock Grass) is another hardy Australian Native Grass. It will grow well in most soils, but will enjoy some moisture during summer. It can be cut back hard then heavily watered to create new growth. The long green leaves will turn a little silver in dry weather. It will flower from October to March with purple-green flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

Poa labillardierei (Common Tussock Grass)

Poa labillardierei (Common Tussock Grass)

 

 

5.     Soil Wetting agents

 

The breakdown and decomposition of some organic matter will result in a waxy coating on some soil particles. This makes the soil hydrophobic. This is much more prevalent on sandy soils than clay soils. The obvious solution is to treat the garden with a surfactant or wetting agent before rain.

Drought Tolerant Landscaping hydrophobic-hydrophilic

Hydrophobic versus hydrophilic

 

A less obvious solution is to spread a little garden lime on the hydrophobic soil. The garden lime will do two things. Firstly, the increased PH will encourage bacteria that will break down the waxy material. Secondly, it will add fine particles to the soil. Some types of clay are also useful for reducing surface tension in the water droplets.

Drought Tolerant Plants in Commercial Landscaping

As part of the move towards greater sustainability, Landscape Architects are looking at methods to reduce fresh water consumption in commercial landscaping. These methods include rain gardens, blue roofs, rainwater storage with irrigation drip systems and, perhaps most importantly, drought tolerant Australian Native Plants.

Potted Plants for the commercial landscaping.

Sustainable commercial landscaping using drought tolerant plants. Establishing smaller Australian native drought tolerant plants early will save you money and water.

 

 

Related Landscaping Ideas from Red’s Landscaping Melbourne

 

7 Great Salvia plants for your Melbourne Garden

 

5 top Landscape Design trends in Melbourne

 

Salvia Leucantha or Mexican Bush Sage

 

5 top tips. Landscaping Melbourne with Lomandra.

 

Coastal Garden Design

 

Melbourne Topsoil – 9 Great Money saving tips.

 

© Copyright Red’s Landscaping and Design – Melbourne Commercial Landscaping Specialist

 

References and further reading on Drought Tolerant Landscaping

 

The Impact of Mulch on evaporation – University of Florida

 

The Garden Professors – Mulch for reducing Evaporation.

 

Drought Tolerant Australian Native Plants

 

Royal Botanical Gardens Victoria Growing Indigenous Plants.

 

Water repellency – Soilquality.org.au

 

Help your garden survive a drought.

 

Drought Tolerant Plants

 

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ladybird eating aphids

Insects that benefit your Garden

The current decline of insects.

It was alarming to read recently of the decline in populations of flying insects in Europe. Studies in Germany alone has seen a reduction 76% since 1989 in nature reserves. The reasons for the die off are thought to be manifold. Although the exact cause of the die off is not known, amongst the theories are an increase in the use of nitrogen fertiliser as well as the over use of pesticides.

Bumblebees are beneficial insects

A Bumblebee pollinates a flower.

Insect Habitat

Loss of habitat is probably also a factor. Not only is this a reduction in pollinating insects but also the loss of a valuable food source for many animals especially birds. In the USA it is estimated that wild insects contribute $57 billion to the economy due to their role in the ecosystem and as pollinators. It is important to consider the role of insects in your garden both as pollinators and in attracting birdlife keeping win mind the fact that many of the insects in your garden have a direct benefit to your plants.

Pollinating Insects

In urban environments, as well as rural and semi rural, domestic gardens have been identified as important habitats for animals and especially insect diversity. Domestic gardens are a large proportion of land use in urban areas and contribute greatly to urban green space.Gardens and other urban green spaces , as well as providing valuable ecosystems, also help with habitat, cooling, flood mitigation, and support human health and well-being.

 

A well known beneficial insects. a bees pollinates a flower.

A well known beneficial insect a bee pollinates a flower.

Pollinators are not just bees

habitat for insects

Not all pollinators are bees. Some plants are pollinated by beetles or birds.

There is no doubt that the primary driver for plant selection in the urban gardens is the attractiveness and aesthetic appeal of plants and flowers. Flowering plants provide valuable food resources including both nectar and pollen for invertebrate insects as well as birds and mammals. Some of these animals might, but not necessarily, pollinate the plant. Most of the flying insects, not just bees, that visit flowers are potential pollinators.

 

Supporting Pollinating Insects

Scientific studies in the UK have shown that gardeners can support pollinating insects in gardens by planting a mix of flowering plants from different regions. This might not be the case in Australia with its unique ecosystems. In some cases using a mix of plants may give your garden a steady supply of flowering plants all year round.

butterfly

Supporting Bees

Studies also found that in the United Kingdom with its short summers, the more flowers a garden can offer throughout the year, the greater the number of bees, and other pollinating insects it will attract and support. This is  regardless of whether the plant was native or non-native. In South East Queensland, it is probably better to select a higher quantity of indigenous plants and smaller numbers of exotic plants for colour contrast.

 

Densely Packed flower gardens

A densely planted flowering garden with a variety of local and exotic flowering plants will provide both food and habitat for insects and small animals.

A densely packed flower garden provides food and habitat for insects.

A densely packed flower garden provides food and habitat for insects.


Non pollinating Insects

 

Are non-pollinating insects also important in the garden? The invertebrates in your garden are either predators, omnivores, herbivores or detritivores. The detritivores play an important role in your garden as they are animals which feed on dead organic material helping to break it down to feed the plants. The predators, like the lady bird but also including other beetles, wasps and spiders, help to control some of the garden pests.

ladybird eating aphids

A ladybird eating aphids

Coccinellidae, ladybug lady bird or lady beetle. This carnivorous insect loves to fest on your garden pests such as aphids and scale insects. It even lays its eggs in the pest insect colonies. Where possible, aphids should be controlled by using the garden hose rather than insecticide. Any insecticide spray used on aphids will probably harm your ladybirds as well.

 

Other insects in your garden will attract birdlife, so consider planting at least part of your garden with insects and animals in mind.

A blue fairy wren

Birds like blue fairy wrens are attracted to gardens with insect life.

Related Landscaping ideas from Melbourne Landscaper Red’s Landscaping and Civil Pty Ltd

Wildlife In The Garden. Choosing Plants To Help Create Food And Habitat

 

3 Living Christmas Trees

 

Eco Pools: Nature pools for the eco conscious

 

13 Best Reasons To Preserve Balwyn Urban Wetlands

 

Neonicotinoid Pesticides Banned by Bunnings and the EU

 

7 best Eucalyptus trees for your Melbourne garden

 

 

© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil quality commercial landscaping Melbourne

 

 

 

 

 

 

References and further reading.

 

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2664.12499/full

 

 

A list of Beneficial Insects

 

Beneficial Insects

 

How to encourage the good bugs in your garden

 

Enticing Insects into your Garden

 

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0185809

 

http://www.sueddeutsche.de/wissen/insektensterben-dramatischer-insektenschwund-in-deutschland-1.3713567

 

https://www.ehow.com/how_2164042_use-peppermint-oil-as-insect.html

 

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/18/warning-of-ecological-armageddon-after-dramatic-plunge-in-insect-numbers

 

Garlic and Mint Insect Spray

 

https://www.hometalk.com/4223173/garden-tips-doy-organic-insect-spray

 

 

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Eco friendly fly ash blocks are made from power station waste.

4 types of Eco-Friendly Concrete

Eco-friendly Concrete, as the name suggests, is a kind of concrete that is relatively environment friendly. It is not just a single type of Concrete, rather one of at least four different types of Concrete.

Is Concrete Eco Friendly?

Concrete is a major contributor to the production of the world’s greenhouse gas through the production process of Cement. As per some research, almost 1 ton of Carbon Dioxide is produced for 1 ton of Cement production. Researchers, in order to make construction a sustainable industry, have been coming up with a number of solutions. Some of which are discussed today.

Using Waste Products in Eco-Friendly Concrete

This includes the usage of waste materials like Fly Ash, Blast Furnace Slag, Husk Ash and much more. These waste products are difficult to recycle and therefore scientists and civil engineers started to partially replace the portland cement content with these waste products.

 

fly ash dump.

Fly ash dump. Waste Fly ash is a waste product produced in the chimneys of coal-fired power stations.

 

This strategy is effective in two ways. Not only they are using these waste products but also reducing the production of portland cement. A concrete mix, for instance, uses 20 % Fly Ash by the weight of cement translates to 20 % less Portland cement used in that product. A simple logic of ‘lower demand = lower production.

 

Eco Friendly Cement from Fly Ash

The spherical particles of the fly ash acts as a lubricant. This improves the workability and pumping of the concrete.

Research studies show that the resulting concrete, especially when made with Fly Ash (FA) and Blast Furnace Slag (BFS), results in a stronger and more durable concrete since it has better resistance to chemical attacks,

Eco-Friendly Concrete Bricks made wi

Eco-Friendly Concrete Bricks made with Fly Ash. The spherical fly ash particles improve the flow of the workability of the cement. This helps it to be moulded into complicated shapes and helps concrete pumping. According to the US DOT “Fly ash use in concrete improves the workability of plastic concrete, and the strength and durability of hardened concrete. Fly ash use is also cost effective. When fly ash is added to concrete, the amount of Portland cement may be reduced.”

“Colliecrete concrete can use up to 80 to 90 per cent of recycled material as its cement component,”

The concrete made with Blast Furnace Slag also has a lower pH which is ideal for artificial reefs. Recent research has shown that concrete made with BFS can host higher alga on the surface as compared to conventional concrete when used as an Artificial Reef.

The concrete made with Blast Furnace Slag also offers a lower pH value which is beneficial for artificial reefs

The concrete made with Blast Furnace Slag also has a lower pH which is ideal for artificial reefs

 

Self-Healing Eco-Friendly Concrete

Eco-Friendly Concrete which is also known as ‘Green Concrete’ or ‘Environment Friendly Concrete’ is much more than using waste products. Innovative materials like Self-healing Concrete can also be a part of it. Self-Healing Concrete is also known as “Live Concrete” for it fills its own cracks by itself. This healing of cracks is achieved with the help of Bacteria, Fungi and/ or chemicals promise a longer service life. A longer service life means the structures are going to stay for a longer tenure and therefore reducing the construction life time costs. Less reconstruction means less production of cement.

SELF HEALING CONCTETE

Before and after pictures of self healing concrete shows how limestone fills the gap in the concrete.

 

Cracks in concrete provide a passage to water and gases which can make their way inside the concrete. The problem with intrusion of fluids is that it can take other chemicals along with it. Sulphates and Chlorides being prime examples. They tend to attack the Concrete and Steel – Sulphates are common to trigger Sulphate attack while Chlorides together with oxygen can cause steel corrosion.

Carbon Dioxide ingression on the other actually makes Concrete stronger. Such concrete in which Carbon Dioxide has made its way deep is called Carbonated Concrete. This reacts with Calcium Hydroxide – the alkaline part of Concrete – and produces Calcium Carbonate that is actually stronger than the former. But, the latter is not as alkaline as former and therefore reduces the pH of concrete and consequently its resistance to acid attacks.

Self-Healing Concrete is currently being utilised in a number of projects is finding practical uses in many different applications.

Carbon Dioxide Absorbing Eco-Friendly Concrete

Similarly, there are other concrete types like Carbon Dioxide absorbing Concrete. This Concrete type absorbs Carbon Dioxide that comes into contact with its surface and therefore making this environment a bit better.

Carbon Dioxide Absorbing Concrete is still under research. Carbon Dioxide gets its way inside the concrete and produces Calcite (Calcium Carbonate). Although this reaction makes concrete stronger but reduces the PH. The alkaline layer around steel reinforcement protects the steel from acid attack which can cause corrosion of steel. Once corroded, the steel would expand and cause stresses inside the concrete and therefore might result in cracks.

The applications for such kind of concrete are still under discussion and the scientists are currently working to come up with a viable option.

Recycled Aggregate Concrete

On the other hand, it is also important to realize that demolished concrete is also been recycled since landfill is not a viable option anymore. The demolished concrete is crushed and then used again as aggregate in new concrete – the resulting concrete is called Recycled Aggregate Concrete.

Eco-friendly concrete using Recycled Aggregate Concrete

Eco-friendly concrete using Recycled Aggregate Concrete

 

Recycled Aggregate Concrete usually has a little lower strength, less workability and lower resistance to chemical attacks as compared to conventional concrete. But with recent research, the gap is getting smaller and soon recycled aggregate concrete would be as good as conventional concrete.

Another kind of recycled concrete is currently under research at different universities. The University of Tokyo, Japan, for instance, is currently working on using demolished concrete with zero cement. The demolished concrete is crushed and brought into powder form which later is compressed with the right amount of water for lubrication. The powder is compressed into the desired shape which later can be used for a number of purposes.

The compressive strength of such kind of concrete is not comparable to conventional concrete since most of the strength comes from mechanical compression and hardly any chemical reaction occurs between the particles. The cement particles from the demolished concrete is usually unable to hydrate – hydration is reaction of cement and water which in turn produces hydration products like Allite, Bellite and Portlandite which provide strength and alkalinity.

Commercial Landscaping with Eco-Friendly Concrete

Melbourne Concrete suppliers Outwest Concrete have a range of more sustainable concrete products using materials that would have otherwise ended up in landfill. Outwest Concrete make clever use of  blast furnace slag, recycled aggregates, fly ash and recycled water to make a more sustainable Eco-Friendly concrete that is ideal for Commercial Landscaping Applications.

 

Related Information from Red’s Landscaping and Civil

Concreting Melbourne

 

Eco garden: Gardening Made Easy

 

Concrete Swimming Pool Construction and Design.

 

5 Reasons For Using Recycled Plastic Composites

 

Plastic Roads, the next step for Australia?

 

Concrete – 9 things Melbourne Landscapers need to know.

 

© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil quality landscaping Melbourne

 

References and more reading about Eco-Friendly Concrete

 

References

Self Healing Concrete

 

Recycled Aggregate Concrete

 

Portland Pozzolana Cement

 

US DOT

 

Boral Bulk Cement Fly Ash and Slag

 

Engineers Australia – New Cement Durable and Eco-Friendly

 

Wagners – Earth Friendly Concrete

 

Bayside Group – Eco Friendly Concrete

Read more
Building a Asphalt road. Will plastic be an important ingredient in the future.

Plastic Roads, the next step for Australia?

After hugely successful installations in Zwolle and Giethoorn in the Netherlands, plastic roads and paths are about to become mainstream. Now, two years after the concept was first tested, a team of plastic road specialists are taking the idea global, with Australia the next step on their journey.

Plastic roads? Is it as simple as it sounds?

There’s more to this concept than first meets the eye. Yes, the roads are made using plastic rather than asphalt, but it’s actually recycled plastic that elevates this product to the next level. As well as the plastic surface that road users will see, Aussie engineers will be able to access the prefabricated hollow space that is carefully designed for a whole range of purposes, like cable transiting, piping, road heating, generating energy, and moving water through. The circular economy played a major part in the design, and so these roads are both recycled and recyclable, not that they have a short life span, in fact, their designers expect that plastic roads will perform for three times as long as asphalt.

Plastic Road -

The hollow space that can be used to hold water to help prevent flooding or for the transit of cables and pipes.

 

What are the advantages of plastic roads for Australians?

● The lightweight and prefabricated hollow space allows more road to be built and faster, with ease of transport, and easier maintenance that is required less frequently
● With the lifespan being 3 times longer than asphalt, Australian roads and tax dollars can go further, for longer!
● Almost no deterioration from weeds and bad weather, and can handle constant traffic and safely drain water
● Noise-reducing, as the material absorbs more sound than asphalt
● Highly sustainable design using mostly recycled plastic, reusable and recyclable components, and based on the Cradle to Cradle and Circular Economy principles
● Effective hollow space design which appeals to civil engineers, with the increased functionality also making it plausible to innovate the roads for renewable energy capturing in the future
● Helping to tackle the problem of plastic waste, which is just as big a problem in Australia as in other countries

 

What problems are plastic roads tackling?

Of course, primarily the roads are tackling the faults of asphalt, but the secondary benefits go way beyond and contribute to a better society. Issues such as plastic waste, extreme weather, better mobility, quality urban development, crowded subsurfaces, and more can be addressed. Asphalt is not terrible, but it does not offer modern solutions to modern problems, and contractors, municipalities, provinces, and water authorities want more functionality and innovation from their roads.

Cyclists on a new road.

Cyclists on a plastic road.

 

How sustainable is this idea?

Here at Red’s Landscaping Melbourne, we’re keen to vet our supply chain, to assess our products, processes, and materials, and to ask big questions about sustainability to find better answers. When we heard about the plastic road concept, naturally it caught our attention.

The sustainability factor is high, because:
1. Plastic roads source a lot of recycled plastic for their manufacturing. In one of the trials in the Netherlands, 1,000kg of recycled plastic was used for a 30m cycle path. Scale that into a decent length of road surface and millions of tonnes could be sustainably utilised high up in the chain
2. The carbon footprint of recycled post-industrial plastic is much lower than asphalt, with manufacturers arguing a 50-70% reduction in CO2 emissions. As the production of the roads increases and processes scale, this percentage will improve even further
3. The innovation is based on the Cradle to Cradle philosophy, with elements of the Circular Economy also used as inspiration
4. The roads can be recycled at the end of their lifespan and turned into more plastic roads!
5. Plastic roads can be built directly on top of sand, saving the resources that would usually be used for a foundation. Australia has a lot of sand, so this is a big plus
6. Transporting the components for a plastic road is much easier and less energy-intensive than asphalt, and in fact, requires 85% less transport overall

Who is making the product?

Australia will welcome a collaborative team from PlasticRoad, KWS, Wavin, and Total in the first quarter of 2021 to begin industrial manufacturing.

 

Plastic Road infrastructure

Plastic Road infrastructure

 

Is this project unique, or is Australia trialling other road innovations?

In New South Wales, another plastic road project is underway, with the NSW Environment Protection Authority approving the use of Downer’s Reconophalt road surface product. This material also uses some recycled plastics and has been extensively tested to ensure that there is no release of microplastics or BPA leaching into the environment. As well as recycled plastic, the road mix contains toner, glass, and reclaimed road.

Building a Asphalt road. Will plastic be an important ingredient in the future.

Roller and workers on asphalting and repair of city streets. Will plastic soon be an important ingredient in road construction?

 

The recycled plastic is post-consumer, with a community network sourcing material from Coles, Woolworths, schools, councils, and businesses, with the help of RedCycle and Plastic Police. The first trials back in 2018 were a big victory for sustainable road surfacing and since then, roads have been laid in Australia Capital Territory, New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia.

Downer’s General Manager of pavements, Stuart Billing, is quoted as saying:

“We have invested significantly in research and development over a long period of time and I am incredibly proud of our team’s commitment to deliver a product that is environmentally safe, sustainable and outperforms standard asphalt. Even after a road has been laid with Reconophalt, the pavement is perpetually recyclable, providing a truly circular and sustainable solution for communities and generations to come. To us, it’s all about pulling products, not pushing waste.”

Final thoughts

Red’s Landscaping Melbourne are keen to see more and more sustainable innovations popping up around the country, giving a good indication that the construction and engineering industries are looking at their projects and asking tough questions.

 

Related Landscaping Articles from Red’s Landscaping Melbourne

7 Reasons to Choose Concrete Pavement

 

Tennis Court Construction Balwyn Community Centre

 

5 Reasons For Using Recycled Plastic Composites

 

Eco garden: Gardening Made Easy

 

Eco Pools: Nature pools for the eco conscious

 

7 Great Reasons to choose Permeable Concrete

 

13 Best Reasons To Preserve Balwyn Urban Wetlands

 

© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil quality commercial landscaping Melbourne

 

More information on Plastic Roads

 

Building the Future

 

Downer’s Reconophalt road surface product

 

More information on plastics recycling

Boroondara Council A to Z recycling and waste guide.

 

 

Read more
Composite Plastic Enviroslat Bench with cast in-situ concrete base.

5 Reasons For Using Recycled Plastic Composites

Melbourne Landscaping companies are now turning to an unlikely material for some of their wood finishes. The material: recycled plastic composite. Why not use wood itself? Here are the five best reasons…

 

Reason One: Toughness and Durability of Recycled Plastic Composites

Plastic is tougher than wood, and of course, that’s not to say wood isn’t tough, wood is an amazing and versatile material, but the facts don’t lie. Wood has a habit of splitting, snapping, splintering, grazing, and chipping, and through no fault of its own, it’s also a tasty snack for insects. Mould also loves wood and shows this love by growing all over it. Finally, wood is highly porous by nature, meaning it has to be covered in waterproofing oil to make it suitable for landscaping finishes. This lack of water resistance is the ultimate undoing for wood.

 

Here at Red’s Landscaping Melbourne , we’ve found that recycled plastic composites is pretty much the opposite. It’s nonporous, insects and mould aren’t interested in it, chemicals don’t bother it, and it requires a huge amount of force or professional tools to snap it.

Our recent commercial landscaping project at Balwyn Community Centre made great use the Futurewood products Enviroslat and CleverDeck

Being man-made is a huge advantage for plastic , as it gives an opportunity for engineers to re-master the material, to make it stronger, more shock absorbent, better reinforced (often with fibreglass) and it also gives control over colour and design.

CleverDeck Composite Recycled Plastic decking from Futurewood.

CleverDeck Composite Plastic decking from Futurewood looks just like timber on this deck.

Reason Two: UV Resistance of Recycled Plastic Composite Wood

In wet and humid countries, wood is known to quickly rot and break, so what happens in a country like Australia where the biggest weather challenge for wood is the sun? UV radiation is an invisible threat to wood fibres, rendering them less resilient and more prone to cracking, warping, or cupping. An entire decking or fence section can be destroyed by failing to protect them with a waterproof sealer and UV light sealer.

 

Plastic Composite Wood doesn’t suffer from the same problem, in fact, recycled plastic wood is UV resistant, meaning the performance, quality, and appearance will decrease much more slowly over time than real wood.

Recycled plastic composite decking looks like real wood.

 

Reason Three: Waste reduction

The construction industry accounts for more than one-third of the world’s waste, if some experts are correct. This is a big problem, so the construction industry, engineering industry, and other connected sectors like landscaping are responsible for finding new ways to recycle these materials and ensure they avoid the landfill. The recycled plastic ‘wood’ that we use takes post-industrial HDPE and makes a waste-reducing product that also saves rainforest timber from being felled.

Recycled plastic wood composites on this brown enviroslat fence looks great in contrast to the green bamboo leaves.

This brown Enviroslat fence looks great in contrast to the green bamboo leaves.

 

Reason Four: Cost effective

Here at Red’s Landscaping Melbourne , we are happy to provide a cost-benefit analysis for plastic wood in comparison to wood, showing that there is a high hidden cost in maintaining timber year after year. As a side to that fact, the oil used to protect timber slats contains a number of chemicals that can be harmful to the environment.

 

Over the entire life span, plastic lumber more than makes up for its higher purchasing price, providing a truly economical option to those who want quality and longevity.

 

Reason Five: Expert Science

The final of our five reasons (though we could give plenty more) brings us to the science behind the plastic lumber’s composition. As you see in the list below, the ingredients are either eco-friendly natural materials, post-industrial waste, or small quantities of carefully selected chemicals to make sure the resulting material is perfect for landscaping (and other applications). The products are made from over 90% recycled and reused plastic and rice husk mixed with some pigments and fillers as well as UV absorbers to ensure the material remains tough for a long time.

How recycled Plastic Timber Composites are made.

How your recycled Plastic bottles become Timber Composites park furniture.

Landscaping with Enviroslat and CleverDeck recycled plastic Composite Timber slats

The recycled plastic composite timber slats have a wide range of uses in landscaping. It is the ideal material for pergolas, decking of to improve the look of your backyard shed. The low maintenance, toughness, and aesthetic qualities make it a great material for the commercial landscaping of public places like the Balwyn Community Centre. The urban wetlands boardwalk is a fantastic example of how this new landscaping material can be used.

 

Recycled Enviroslat Cladding on a shed at Balwyn Community Centre.

Enviroslat Cladding on a shed at Balwyn Community Centre

The Boardwalk at Balwyn Community Centre

 

Park Furniture from recycled plastic composites

The toughness of recycled plastic composites, also makes them great for the manufacturing of Park Outdoor Furniture for landscaping public spaces. For this reason, commercial landscapers are now seeing these materials specified more often by the Landscape architects.

Outdoor Park Furniture Marrickville library outdoor furniture using recycled plastic.

A round outdoor seat. Marrickville library outdoor furniture – Photograph courtesy of botton + gardiner

The materials used are engineered for longevity meaning no need to replace and consume additional resources. Park furniture manufactured from recycled plastic composite wood are very low maintenance. The composites on these outdoor park furniture pieces require no sealing, or oiling.  There is also no risk of termite destruction when these materials are used. The long chain polyolefin molecules mean that the materials are also very resistant to warping.

S - Shaped outdoor seat. Marrickville Library.

S – Shaped outdoor seat. Marrickville Library. Photograph courtesy of botton + gardiner

 

Manufacturing of Outdoor Park Furniture

The manufacturing process for making outdoor park furniture with recycled plastic composites is similar to making park furniture with wood. The process is however more efficient as there is no need to oil or paint the timber composites. An added bonus is the slats are manufactured straight and with uniform thickness and width. This is hard to achieve even with the best kiln dried timbers. This can be seen in the photographs below of the park furniture manufacturing at botton + gardiner.

 

 

Commercial Landscaping with recycled composite timber.

The toughness and durability of recycled composite timber makes material like Enviroslat ideal for commercial landscaping applications. The toughness and the use of HDPE in the material makes the outdoor furniture resistant to vandals. The Ultraviolet Stability means that the colour does not fade much or peel meaning that repainting is rarely required. The absence of wood splinters and warping are even more reasons what these materials are great for commercial landscaping.

 

Want to learn more about our recycled plastic timber projects?

Get in touch with us today or check out our landscaping case studies page.

 

CleverDeck and Enviroslat are Trademarks of Future Wood in Australia and the UK

 

For More information on recycling Plastic take a look at the UK Plastic Expert Website.

 

Related Landscaping Articles from Red’s Landscaping Melbourne

Eco garden: Gardening Made Easy

 

Balwyn Landscaping – Commercial Project

 

Commercial Landscaping

 

Commercial Landscaper Melbourne

 

 

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Eco garden: Gardening Made Easy

Why create an Eco Garden

Our gardens are our sanctuaries; places where we relax, entertain and create memorise with our loved ones. Yet sometimes the time, effort and resources required maintaining a garden can be overwhelming. Eco gardening is a method of gardening that can negate these problems. An eco garden is beneficial to both the planet and the owner as it uses less water, creates habitats for local fauna and flora, and saves money long-term.

Eco gardening is a sustainable gardening practice that considers the interactions between the plants, soil, water, and the surrounding natural environment.  It requires minimal human interference with chemical or pest controls; instead, the garden can be viewed as a small ecosystem that is self-sufficient and in balanced with nature.

There are a number of elements that can help you grow a thriving eco garden:

How to Create an Eco Garden

Native plants that thrive in the local conditions

Selecting native plant species that are adapted to your local conditions will increase the likelihood of a successful eco garden. When compared to non-native species, native plants save time, money, and an important natural resource: water. In addition, native species provide habitats for local birds and insects, which will benefit the garden.

 

 

 

Companion planting for an Eco Garden

Plant pairing, or companion planting, is the method of growing plants together with the idea that they will benefit from each other’s existence. Some plants located in close proximity to each other improve growth, enhance flavour, attract pollinating insects, discourage pests, and even fix nitrogen levels in the soil.

Eco gardening. Australian yellow kangaroo paw flower (Anigozanthos pulcherrimus) in front of a grasstree

Australian yellow kangaroo paw flower (Anigozanthos pulcherrimus) in front of a grasstree. Both of these Australian native plants thrive in poor well drained soils.

Bird and insect-attracting plants

Encouraging birds and beneficial insects to your eco garden will assist in pollination, pest control, and decomposition of debris. Birds, bees and even some other insects help pollinate flowers – which is particularly important if you are growing fruits and vegetables! Birds also feed on harmful pests like caterpillars, snails and slugs, while insects such as lady beetles can feed upon pests like aphids to keep them below nuisance thresholds.

Eco Gardens Attract Birds

Eco Gardens Attract Birds like this Rainbow Lorikeet.

 

Flowering Gum with Rainbow Lorikeet

A rainbow lorikeet flys out of a flowering gum after a tasty meal.

 

Water management for your eco garden.

Planting a dense garden that is lush and thick with vegetation helps reduce the need for supplementary water. Dense planting shades the area, reducing evaporation, which also helps retain the moisture. Ideally an eco garden shouldn’t require supplementary water; however, during particularly harsh weather periods there may be times that water supplementation is required. To keep in the theme of sustainability, a rainwater tank would be ideal to provide water during these periods.

Nutrients are recycled back into the ecosystem

Flowers, branches, leaves, and other natural debris contain natural chemical elements (including phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium) that are essential for the overall health of the garden ecosystem. Resist the temptation to remove these items to ‘clean up’ the garden appearance. Allowing this garden waste to decompose in the garden will return nutrients back into the soil.

Australian indigenous plants are ideal for your eco garden

Australian indigenous plants are ideal for your eco garden. Cradle Mountain Tasmania, boardwalk at Dove lake with sub-alpine vegetation

Utilise natural fertilisers in your eco garden

If you find that your garden needs a boost, natural fertilisers such as manure, pea straw and lupin mulch are a better alternative to store-bought chemical fertilisers. Worm tea (from worm farms) and compost bins are also useful for turning old food scraps and green waste into a natural fertiliser for your garden. Worm farms and compost bins can be purchased from your local nursery or made at home at a fraction of the cost.

Making Compost for your garden

Compost will make great fertiliser for an eco garden.

Try not to be overwhelmed by all of the above features of an eco garden. It is not necessary for an eco garden to have all of these components. Choose a few elements that you could start implementing this weekend, and slowly expand when you have the capacity. For more information, contact your local plant nursery to help you start in the right place.

The Sustainable Suburban Garden

 

 

 

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© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil quality commercial landscaping Melbourne

 

More Information on Eco Gardens

 

Growing Green Guide

 

CERES is an environmental education centre, urban farm and social enterprise hub located on Wurundjeri land alongside the Merri Creek in Melbourne.

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eco pools

Eco Pools: Nature pools for the eco conscious

Eco Pools, a new type of swimming pool on an old theme.

With the rise of climate change and awareness of our environmental impact on the world, many of us are trying to incorporate everyday practices that reduce our environmental footprint.  Ensuring appropriate use of our natural resources, such as water, is one consideration. Whilst we can limit water use in the garden, there has been one glaringly obvious backyard addition that has traditionally been overlooked.

What are Eco Pools?

Eco swimming pools are a new style of pool that is emerging into the mainstream arena. Eco pools are essentially any pool that uses a natural purification system rather than traditional chemicals such as salt or chlorine. Whilst the concept is not new (the movement for backyard eco pools started in the 1980’s), the creation and maintenance of these types of pools is more environmentally beneficial when compared to conventional pools.

A tranquil tropical look eco pool.

A tranquil tropical look eco pool.

How do Eco Pools benefit the Planet

An eco pool is beneficial to both the planet and the user by:

  • Using less of the planet’s resources
  • Providing a healthier swimming environment for the users
  • Saving the user money long-term on maintenance expenses
  • Creating habitats for local wildlife and flora

How do the Pools work?

Eco pools work by mimicking the same processes that occur in natural, high functioning healthy water bodies (such as lakes). When the ecosystem is balanced, the water is clean and safe to use.

The Zone system

Generally eco pools contain two separate zones; one for recreational use and the other for water purification. A ‘recreational zone’ would consist of 50 to 70% of the total water surface area while the remaining area is reserved for water purification. The water purification system utilises aquatic plants and microorganisms as living filters to clean and filter the water. These plants and microorganisms work in harmony to oxygenate the water and remove impurities and excess nutrients. This area is referred to as the ‘regeneration zone’, and is either incorporated into the overall structure of the eco pool or can be separated from the recreational zone by a dividing wall.

eco pools

House with an environmental pond pool. 3D CAD rendering shows the different pool zones

 

The regeneration zone is generally shallow, with a coarse aggregate to assist in filtration, and the pH levels must be maintained between 5.5 and 7 to ensure natural balance and equilibrium.

 

What about Algae and Mosquitos?

One of the biggest concerns from those considering an eco pool is that it will encourage algal growth and mosquito breeding. A high functioning, well-designed eco pool that is in balance will do neither of these things. The use of oxygenating aquatic plants will absorb nitrates and phosphates, which will slow the growth of algae. Furthermore, a deep recreational zone that is in shade will not provide adequate conditions for algae growth. In regard to mosquitoes, the constant movement of the water through the natural filtration systems will discourage them from depositing their larvae in the pool. However, if larvae did become present, the eco pool is designed to also attract natural predators (such as birds) that would eat the larvae.

What type of Plants are used?

There are three types of plants that will regulate the water:

  • Floating plants: provide shade and protect microorganisms from UV rays
  • Oxygenating plants: absorb nitrates and phosphates
  • Biological filters: remove excess nutrients from the water

Eco Pools are Low Maintenance

Ongoing cleaning and maintenance of an eco pool is less taxing than a conventional pool. However, it is recommended that two deep cleans occur each year, as well as weekly maintenance to remove leaves and debris. In addition to this, it may be necessary from time to time to provide fertilisers to the aquatic plants to improve their condition.

 

eco pool and egg chair

A tranquil eco pool with an egg chair hovering above it.

Overall, eco pools are the ideal solution for anyone wishing to reduce their environmental impact whilst still enjoying a plunge in the backyard during summer!

 

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© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil quality commercial landscaping Melbourne

More Information on Eco Pools

 

 

Gardening Australia

 

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Permeable Concrete -

7 Great Reasons to choose Permeable Concrete

Permeable Concrete or pervious concrete is changing the way public spaces are landscaped.

Concrete is the second most consumed product in the world. And contrary to our belief, its usage is much wider than constructing buildings only. With recent developments in Concrete, it has become an important material for an array of usages. Permeable Concrete is a prime example of development in concrete industry. Although the material itself isn’t new, since it was first used in 1852, it has been attracting renewed attention.

What is Permeable Concrete?

Permeable Concrete is also known as Porous Concrete, Pervious Concrete, Gap Graded Concrete, No-Fines Concrete and Enhanced-Porosity Concrete. Permeable concrete, similar to Normal Concrete, uses a mix of Cement, Water and Coarse Aggregate with little or no sand (Fine Aggregate) in it. The resulting concrete has 15% to 25% voids which ensure a water flow rate of 480 in/hr or more. Although the higher porosity, and lack of mortar paste reduces the strength of pervious concrete as compared to the conventional one but it is sufficient for most of its uses.

 

What are the Applications of Permeable Concrete

Although Pavement Construction is the major application of Pervious Concrete since it reduces the stormwater runoff and adds to the surface water table. In fact, the usage of Permeable Concrete in Pavement Construction is considered as one of the Best Management Practices (BMP) by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA). The usage of Permeable Concrete in pavements and in other horizontal constructions, depending on the precipitation values of a certain region, can eliminate the need of retention ponds and other precipitation runoff storage facilities. This would result in a more efficient land use especially in urban areas where land is already expensive.

Permeable-Concrete

Figure 1 Pervious Concrete Pavement (Divya Bhavana et al., 2017)

 

Below are some of the many applications in modern landscaping;

  • Residential Roads and Driveways
  • Parking Lots
  • Pavements with low traffic volume
  • Tennis Courts
  • Sub-base for conventional concrete pavements
  • Artificial Reefs
  • Well Linings
  • Slope Stabilisation
  • Swimming Pool Decks
  • Pavement Edge Drains

Production of Pervious Concrete

Production of Permeable Concrete is very similar to Normal Concrete since it uses the same ingredients. However, the amount of ingredients differ. Pervious Concrete is also mix designed and therefore should be designed for the desired purpose.
A general guideline is enlisted in the table.
Table 1 Typical Mix Proportion for Pervious Concrete (Divya Bhavana et al., 2017)

 

Material Quantity (kg/cubic metre)
Cement 270 to 415
Aggregate (Coarse and Fine) 1190 to 1480
Water to Cement Ratio (by mass) 0.27 to 0.34
Aggregate to Cement Ratio (by mass) 4 to 4.5
Fine to Coarse Aggregate Ratio (by mass) 0 to 1

 

This typical guideline is for information only and therefore a trial mix should always be prepared and checked for the desired purpose. Apart from the usual materials, Supplementary Cementitious Materials (SCM) and chemical admixtures are also used as per their dosage mentioned by the manufactures.

Water to Cement Ratio

A lower water to cement ratio is used since higher water to cement ratios would affect the compressive strength of concrete. If desired for a purpose where compressive strength is of no importance, a higher water to cement ratio can be used.
Usage of Fine Aggregate would reduce the permeability of concrete and make it less porous, however the compressive strength would be improved.
Lightweight aggregate, recycled aggregate and other types of aggregate or other techniques like fly ash geopolymer concrete have also been utilized to make Permeable Concrete.

Characteristics of the Concrete

Although it is similar to Normal Concrete in terms of its ingredients, it has a plethora of characteristics that make this concrete different. Enlisted are some characteristics of Hardened and Green (Fresh) Permeable Concrete.
The Permeable Concrete has a textured surface after placement.
In-place densities are usually 1600 kg/m^3 to 2000 kg/m^3
Due to low or no mortar content, Permeable Concrete renders a lower slump value and a stiffer consistency. Slump values are usually less than 20 mm (0.75 inches).
In spite of higher void percentage the Permeable Concrete can render a compressive strength of 3.5 MPa to 28 MPa (500 psi to 4000 psi). Typical values are about 17 MPa (2500 psi).
No Darby, Trowel or Bullfloat is used since they tend to seal the surface of concrete.

Permeable Concrete -

I.Idro Drain – Heidelberg cement (Photo – Italcementi a division of Heidelberg cement.)

 

7 Benefits of using Pervious Concrete in Commercial Landscaping.

Permeable Concrete is much more than a way to reduce the stormwater runoff in urban areas. Listed below are some benefits of using Permeable Concrete.
It reduces the pollution by allowing the water to percolate in the ground. The sand chemistry and biology are allowed to treat the water naturally.
Allowing the rainfall to percolate, it recharges ground water and aquifers.
It improves the land use especially in Urban Areas
The light colour of Concrete and relatively open pore structure absorb and store less heat respectively when compared to Normal Concrete. This helps in lowering heat in urban areas.
It is difficult for trees planted in parking lots and sidewalks to grow in impervious concrete environments since it makes it difficult for water to reach the roots. Trees benefit from Permeable concrete and further reduce the heat in urban areas.
It eliminates the risk of ponding over the roads over a longer periods of time as observed in some developing countries after rainfall.
The pervious concrete can absorb the noise of the vehicles on the road creating a pleasant environment.
In rainy days, pervious concrete pavements do not have splashes which glisten at night and are dangerous for drivers.
As per recent researches, the permeable concrete can also be used for the purification of sea water.

Permeable Concrete as a Filter

According to the USA EPA, permeable pavements can help filter out pollutants that contribute to water pollution. The porous structure of pervious pavement allows stormwater to percolate into the underlying soil while filtering out harmful sediments, resulting in better stormwater quality. Studies have shown that as well as preventing larger plastic pollution being washed into the stormwater, permeable concrete can reduce pollution from microplastics and microrubber.

Permeable Concrete Filter

Permeable Concrete as a filter for plastics and microplastics.

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© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil quality commercial landscaping Melbourne

 

References and Further Reading

Draining Concrete Bike Path

 

Draining Outdoor Flooring

 

Paver reduce Pollutioni

 

Architecture and Design

 

Divya Bhavana, T., Koushik, S., Uday Mani Kumar, K., & Srinath, R. (2017). Pervious concrete pavement. In International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (Vol. 8, Issue 4). https://doi.org/10.3141/2113-02
Park, S. B., Lee, B., Lee, J., & Jang, Y. Il. (2010). A study on the seawater purification characteristics of water-permeable concrete using recycled aggregate. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 54(10), 658–665. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2009.11.006
Yang, J., & Jiang, G. (2003). Experimental study on properties of pervious concrete pavement materials. Cement and Concrete Research, 33(3), 381–386. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0008-8846(02)00966-3

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