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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.



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 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.


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 –


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.


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.



A list of Beneficial Insects


Beneficial Insects


How to encourage the good bugs in your garden


Enticing Insects into your Garden


Garlic and Mint Insect Spray



Read more
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.”


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.


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



Self Healing Concrete


Recycled Aggregate Concrete


Portland Pozzolana Cement




Boral Bulk Cement Fly Ash and Slag


Engineers Australia – New Cement Durable and Eco-Friendly


Wagners – Earth Friendly Concrete


Bayside Group – Eco Friendly Concrete

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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

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.



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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.


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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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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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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.


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.



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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


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).
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.
Yang, J., & Jiang, G. (2003). Experimental study on properties of pervious concrete pavement materials. Cement and Concrete Research, 33(3), 381–386.

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Balwyn Community Centre Urban Wetlands

13 Best Reasons To Preserve Balwyn Urban Wetlands

Urban wetlands are now recognised as an important part of the landscaping of public spaces. Landscaping urban wetlands and surrounding  areas can be a challenge for landscapers not least of which is controlling the runoff from the landscape work. For example, exposed aggregate concrete etching can create acid runoff which can pollute nearby wetlands, groundwater and streams. The landscaping contractor needs to be mindful of that and ensure runoffs are controlled or adequately diluted. One solution for this is to use sandbags to direct the water runoff from exposing concrete to where the next crossover is being constructed. This is not just eco landscaping, it is responsible landscaping.


Balwyn Community Centre Urban Wetlands redevelopment

For our recent landscaping project at Balwyn Community centre, the design by landscape architects, ACLA, included a few landscape design changes to the urban wetlands. These were aimed at improving the safety and amenity of the urban wetlands, whilst preserving their character and biodiversity. This type of landscape design is essential where there is a wetland close to a public space like Balwyn Community Centre.

Balwyn Urban Wetlands Landscape Construction

One of the major changes to the landscape involved reshaping the wetland with an excavator. The pool was made also made shallower and a rock beach using 70mm river pebble was added. This landscaping work required draining the wetland and letting it dry out enough to safely use the excavator. Draining a wetland like this requires a permit from the EPA to avoid any pollution problems in the stormwater system. For the safety of children using the Balwyn Community Centre playground, a childproof fence was constructed around the wetlands. Making the pool shallower with a pebble beach also improved the safety of the wetland.

Yoga mat Balwyn Community Centre Urban Wetlands

The Yoga mat in the tranquil settings of Balwyn Community Centre Urban Wetlands

A fallen tree trunk becomes part of the urban wetlands project.

Late into the project a large eucalyptus tree fell onto the fence and destroyed part of it. As with native bushland, fallen tree trunks create habitat for insects and native fauna, so Boroondara City Council and the landscape architect, ACLA decided to keep the tree trunk inside the wetland.

Refilling of the refurbished wetlands was by natural runoff from the landscaped area.


A fallen tree truck becomes new habitat by the urban wetlands of Balwyn Community Centre

A fallen tree truck becomes new habitat by the urban wetlands of Balwyn Community Centre

Why do we put this effort into preserving urban wetlands and Coastal wetlands?

Wetlands are some of the most productive ecosystems in the entire world, providing a range of benefits for both people and the environmental. Wetlands are defined as an area of land where the soil is covered by water for either all of the year, or only certain times of the year.  They may be man-made or naturally forming and the water itself may be static or free flowing, fresh, brackish, or saline. Examples of wetlands include lakes, lagoons, billabongs, swaps, marshes, mudflats, mangroves, peatlands, and even coral reefs.

The conservation and restoration of these ecosystems is essential for protecting biodiversity, water quality, flora and fauna, and areas deemed to be of cultural significance. Below we explore these reasons in further details:

  1. Important Sites For Biodiversity

Wetlands are the most biologically-diverse of all ecosystems. Often referred to as ’biological super systems’ they produce large volumes of food that support a remarkable level of biodiversity. In relation to the number and variety of species supported, wetlands are as rich as rainforests and coral reefs. In fact, the International Union for Conservation of Nature estimated that 126,000 described species rely on freshwater habitats alone and 45% of all fish live in freshwater wetlands.


  1. Protect And Improve Water Quality

Maintaining and improving water quality is one of the most important benefits that wetlands can provide. Wetlands have the capacity to act as filtering systems, removing sediment, nutrients, and pollutants from water. They do this by slowing down water flows from upstream, reducing erosion, and preventing sediment from being transported downstream.


Soils and the vegetation in urban wetlands can capture, process and store both nutrients and contaminants. In addition to this, they can reduce harmful bacteria and pathogens in the water prior to it being returned to groundwater.


  1. Providing Habitats For Aquatic Animals

For many aquatic animals, inland wetlands are the only habitat in which they can survive. The wetlands provide all the food, water and shelter that aquatic animals require. Wetlands provide a safe habitat for feeding, spawning and nursery sites for native fish such as Freshwater Catfish, Blue-spot Gobi, and Long-finned Eel. Overall, healthy wetlands sustain healthy wildlife and fish populations as they contribute to large amounts of nutrients, ultimately resulting in better high-functioning ecosystems.


  1. Store Stormwater And Floodwaters

With the rise of urban development across major cities, the management of storm water is a cause of great concern. Excessive stormwaters and floodwaters caused by the increase in non-porous or impervious grounds can cause significant economic burden and damage to infrastructure. However, urban wetlands are nature’s detention basins, providing a space for floodwaters to be temporarily stored, retained long-term, or even returned to the water table. Urban wetlands that are in positions downstream in residential areas are valuable at controlling localised floods. The preservation and restoration of wetlands are a natural alternative to expensive dredge operations and levees.


  1. Maintain Surface Water Flow During Dry Periods

Water supply in wetlands is constantly changing; it can be filled by rainfall, or drained by groundwater.  In Australia, water flows are highly variable both within and between years. Wetlands have the ability to reduce water flow velocity with densely populated water vegetation. Wetlands have a rich biodiversity of plants that have evolved to suit these varying conditions. This ensures that, during the drier months, the wetlands can maintain surface water flow to sustain the habitat for both the vegetation and animals.


  1. Protect Our Shores From Wave Action

Coastal wetlands, such as estuaries and marshes, are an integral part of shore protection schemes as they can provide suitable protection from wave action along with creating species diversification. Coastal wetlands provide a buffer zone that is biologically diverse, which ensures that the exposed shoreline vegetation is maintained. Erosion is also prevented by absorbing wave energy.


  1. Provide Habitat For Plants

Wetlands contain a wide diversity of life, supporting animals and plants that are often found nowhere else. In fact, in Australia thousands of plant species grow in wetlands, ranging from mosses and grasses to shrubs and trees. Wetland plant communities are often protected as they contain flora that is endangered under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. Some common plants found in wetlands include lignum, the common reed, and river red gums.


  1. Provide Habitat For Animals

The biodiversity of animals in wetlands is also well documented. Huge numbers of birds, frogs, mammals and reptiles spend all or part of their life cycles in wetlands, which provide habitat and food sources for them to survive.


Common wetland birds include the Australasian Grebe, Pacific Black Duck, and Great Egret. In relation to frogs, the most common species found in wetlands are the Striped Marsh Frog, Brown-striped Grass Frog, Spotted Grass Frog, Green Tree Frog, and Red-eyed Green Tree Frog. Of the mammal species, the Swamp Rat, Platypus, Fishing Bat, Common Planigale, Common Blossom-Bat, Eastern Chestnut Mouse, and the Pale Field Rat all live within wetlands. Many different species of reptiles also thrive in wetland environments, including turtles, water skinks, and snakes.


A grebe in an Urban Wetland near Cranbourne.

A grebe in an Urban Wetland near Cranbourne. (Photo Shane Borham)


A Black fronted dotteral, a type of plover. enjoys the mud at this wetland near Cranbourne. (Photo Shane Borham)

A Black fronted dotteral, a type of plover. enjoys the mud at this urban wetland near Cranbourne. (Photo Shane Borham)

  1. Are Culturally Significant

It is important to acknowledge that wetlands are also culturally significant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Wetlands have Aboriginal cultural and historical significance, and are important for science and education.


  1. Ability To Absorb Pollutants

Due to the nature of drainage within urban areas, stormwater is often directed to wetlands. This water is often polluted with sediment, microorganisms, phosphorous, and nitrogen. A healthy, biodiverse wetland has the ability to ‘absorb’ these pollutants. The wetlands can filter these pollutants, reducing the load through processes in aerobic and anaerobic ecological conditions.


  1. Wildlife Corridors

A wildlife corridor is any area of native vegetation that is located between two or more larger areas. It is a ’stepping stone’ for migrating animals to use in-between native landscapes. Wetland wildlife corridors provide this function for many waterbirds, allowing them to safely migrate while providing shelter and food. In addition to providing a refuge for migrating animals, wetland wildlife corridors also enable interbreeding and colonisation of plants native to the local area. Significant wildlife corridors close to Balwyn Community Centre include the anniversary bicycle path through Deepdene and East Kew as well as the chain of parks along the Yarra river. These parks include  Burke Road Billabong Reserve and Hays Paddock in East Kew as well as Bellbird Park in Kew.


  1. Recreational Use

Many coastal and inland wetlands are popular for tourism and recreational activities such as swimming, hiking, boating, fishing, camping, and birdwatching. They are places of beauty that can be a great source of relaxation and recreation.


Early Spring in Melbourne and this black swan is raising cygnets in wetlands near Cranbourne. (Photo Shane Borham.)

Early Spring in Melbourne and this black swan is raising cygnets in urban wetlands near Cranbourne. (Photo Shane Borham.)


A Chestnut teal near Cranbourne Southeast of Melbourne.

A Chestnut teal swimming in wetlands near Cranbourne. (Photo Shane Borham)

  1. Recharging Groundwater

Wetlands recharge groundwater when they become so clogged with water that the soil can no longer retain it and the water leaks down into the aquifer. This is important as the process of leaching not only recharges the groundwater, but in doing so it also absorbs the bacterial loading of the excess water, ensuring that the groundwater is replenished with less contaminated water.


Landscaping with Urban Wetlands

A trend we are seeing is that landscape architects, local governments and developers are preserving and even adding wetlands to landscape redevelopments. Private developers are now creating wetlands and pools to provide a tranquil place for employees and visitors.



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 References and further reading


Acreman, M. and Holden, J. (2013). How Wetlands Affect Floods. Wetlands, [online] 33(5), pp.773–786. Available at: [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

(2018a). Plants in wetlands. [online] NSW Environment, Energy and Science. Available at: [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

(2018c). Why wetlands are important. [online] NSW Environment, Energy and Science. Available at: [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

(2019). Plants and animals in wetlands. [online] NSW Environment, Energy and Science. Available at: [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

(2020). Mammals in wetlands. [online] NSW Environment, Energy and Science. Available at: [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. (2016a). Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. [online] Available at:,nutrients%20and%20pollutants%20from%20water. [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. (2016b). Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. (2020). Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

Healthy wetlands, healthy fi sh populations What are wetlands? (n.d.). [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020]. (2017). Animals of the wetland | Melbourne Water. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020]. (2015). Groundwater Recharge – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

Shore Erosion Control Guidelines Marsh Creation Maryland Department of the Environment Wetlands and Waterways Program. (2006). [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

Urban Bushland Council WA. (2018). Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

US EPA,ORD (2017). Wetlands | US EPA. [online] US EPA. Available at: [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

US EPA,OW (2015). Why are Wetlands Important? | US EPA. [online] US EPA. Available at: [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020]. (2020). Wetland Functions and Values: Surface and Ground Water Protection | Department of Environmental Conservation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

World Wetlands Day – celebrating wetland biodiversity (2010). World Wetlands Day – celebrating wetland biodiversity. [online] IUCN. Available at: [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

Water Sensitive Urban Design. City of Boroondara


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

5 tips for Xanthorrhoea and Anigozanthos landscaping

Xanthorrhoea and Anigozanthos are great companion plants for several reasons.

Xanthorrhoea and Anigozanthos as companion plants.

  1. Both Xanthorrhoea and Anigozanthos prefer sandy well drained soil.
  2. Both of these Australian native plants will die if given too much phosphorus.
  3. The watering needs of these plants are similar.
  4. Both Xanthorrhoea and Anigozanthos need a sunny position in your garden.
  5. The Anigozanthos flowers look great with the contrast of the dark trunk of the Xanthorrhoea behind it.

When designing your garden always group plants together that have similar requirements for sunlight, water, fertiliser and shade. This will make the maintenance of your garden much easier.

Xanthorrhoea and Anigozanthos main articles

We have more information in the main articles on each of these plants in the links below.


Xanthorrhoea The Australian Grass Tree


Landscaping with Anigozanthos Kangaroo paw



Xanthorrhoea is a icon of the Australian bush and the Australian coastal garden.

Whether you are designing a small garden, a medium sized garden or a large garden, the Australian Grass tree or Xanthorrhoea is a great choice. For a small garden, it is a great focal point with its dark charcoal coloured truck its green leaves and its beige cream coloured flowers. The impact can be even greater when lite with some well designed garden lighting.

Kangaroo Paws (Anigozanthos)

Anigozanthos are tufted rhizomatous evergreen  perennials that are members of the bloodwort family.

Kangaroo paws have co-evolved with native birds, the structure of the inflorescence attracts indigenous birds to aid with pollination and seed distribution. They are another “must have” sustainable Australian  native plant to incorporate into the eco friendly Australian Garden. If you are the person who enjoys colours, textures and unique then the kangaroo paw  bush pearl is the plant for you.

Anigozanthos Bush Pearl

Anigozanthos ‘bush pearl’ also known as Pink Kangaroo paw.
Native to Western Australia, Anigozanthos ‘bush pearl’ are lovers of harsh dry arid conditions. Kangaroo paw are notorious for struggling with humid conditions , they tend to turn black, rot and die off during the winter months. Despite these disadvantages,  these plants have proven their versatility in sandy soil and coastal gardens.


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