Archives for Environment

Weeding a Dandelion

5 Melbourne Garden Weeds and how to prevent them.

Weeds are a part of gardening in Melbourne. One of the great things about gardening in Melbourne is the enormous range of plants that can be grown and also how quickly everything grows especially when some good rain comes. Unfortunately, this also applies to the weeds. There is also a wide range, and they grow rapidly under certain weather conditions. The key to effective weed control is to identify them and take action early. The best defences against garden weeds are vigorous plant growth and lots of mulch.  The presence of particular weeds may be an indicator of other garden problems like compressed soil or incorrect PH.

What are weeds?

By definition weeds are a wild plants growing where they are not wanted. These can be split into the categories of garden, lawn or environmental. These categories will include some broad-leaved trees, small noxious weeds and even some commonly used lawn grasses such as Kikuyu grass and clover. The invasive species can be either territorial or aquatic. For the environmental ones, the local councils Melbourne City Council has provided some excellent resources for identification and eradication.

Where do Invasive weeds come from?

Around 66% of these invasive species originated as garden ornamental plants or flowers, so care must be taken with garden plant selection, cultivation and waste removal. An example of this is the Sweet Pittosporum (Pittosporum undulatum), which is often spread from the berries of variegated Pittosporums in gardens. Up to 40% of Australian Native Plant species are under threat from invasive weeds and as most of these are escapees from gardens, it is up to the home gardener to take action. Often weeds are quick growing, very hardy plants that can adapt to a wide range of growing conditions. Also the seeds can be spread by animals, especially birds, flowing water, wind or human activities. Tasty weed berries or seeds are often spread over a wide area by birds. The weed seeds often take advantage of disturbed soil or other changes to the environment.

Docks and sorrels

The docks and sorrels of the genus Rumex can be a problem in different parts of Australia. Broad leafed dock (Rumex obtusifolius) is more likely to be seen in the cooler climate of the southern states. The curled dock (Rumex crispus) looks similar but the leaves are more tapered with a wavy edge. The curled dock can be a pest in Victorian gardens and is difficult to remove due to its long tapered tap root. To prevent these regrowing it needs to be dug down to about 15cm. Dig them out in spring when they are most vulnerable.

Docks and Sorrels have a long tap root that needs to be dug out.

Docks and Sorrels have a long tap root that needs to be dug out to prevent the weed returning.


Dandelion weeds

Dandelions also have long tap roots. If all of the tap root is not removed, the weed will soon grow back. Dandelions in your lawn or garden can be an indicator of compressed soil or a lack of calcium. Dandelions can be dug out with a garden fork or with a special tool designed to dig out garden weeds with long tap roots.

Weeding a Dandelion

Weeding a Dandelion. Dandelions have a long tap root which must be dug our to prevent the weed returning.

Mimosa pudica

Mimosa pudica is a small prickly herbaceous shrub with divided leaves which react to being touched. It is native to Brazil and can be seen in Melbourne growing in damp conditions. Growing to around 50cm, it has fluffy pale purple or pink flowers. It is often seen on roadsides, pastures, crops and other disturbed soil in summer.

Mimosa prefers damp conditions.

Mimosa prefers damp conditions.

Red pigweed

Red pigweed or Common Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) also known as verdolaga, pigweed, little hogweed, red root, pursley, and moss rose). This annual succulent may reach up to  40 cm in height. Widespread around the world, it is believed to also be an edible Australian native plant. Perhaps calling this one a weed is a bit harsh as it has been used as a herb and for medicinal purposes. See the link on edible weeds below.

Portulaca oleracea - Garden Weeds

Portulaca oleracea

Common chickweed

Common chickweed or chickenweed (Stellaria media). This weed is often seen in gardens and cultivated land as it thrives where the lighter soil has been disturbed. It prefers high PH and humid wet conditions. Common Chickweed has small, star-like, white flowers, and oval, fresh green leaves. It was once used to feed birds and chickens.

Stellaria media - Garden Weeds of Melbourne

Stellaria media

Onion weeds

Onion weed , onion asphodel  (Asphodelus fistulosus) has Scattered populations in Victoria.  Onion weed is native to the Mediterranean so it is well suited to the climate in most parts of Melbourne. It is however, a declared noxious weed. It is found in arid environments and  sub-humid warm temperate regions in cropping areas, pastures, rangelands, open woodlands, grasslands, shrub-lands, roadsides, railway lines, waste areas, coastal environs and disturbed sites. Which is pretty much everywhere except in water. When this weed takes hold, it is very difficult to eradicate due to the multiple tiny bulbs in the ground


Hollow-stemmed asphodel or onionweed (Asphodelus fistulosus) in its natural Mediterranean environment (Apulia, Italy)

Hollow-stemmed asphodel or onionweed (Asphodelus fistulosus) in its natural Mediterranean environment (Apulia, Italy)


asphodelus-fistulosus = Garden Weeds of Melbourne

Asphodelus-fistulosus a declared noxious weed in Victoria.

Lantana Camara is a perennial or evergreen shrub with sometimes prickly stems, lantana species growing up to 1500 millimetres tall with thin wiry stems. It is toxic to pets and children, so it is best not to let this on get a foothold in your garden. This species has been widely cultivated as a garden ornamental, but is regarded as a restricted weed in many parts of Victoria. Most of the cultivated ones will be hybrid species. The wrinkled, 2.5  centimetres long leaves are oval-shaped located in opposite pairs with serrated edges. Flowers are clusters of small yellow or orange. As with many of the other weeds, they are often spread by dumping of garden waste. When digging these out, note that Lantana can re-establish if their roots or growing parts are left in contact with moist soil.

If you have a backyard pond, you might see the invasive species Salvinia (floating moss or water spangle,)  These are actually tiny ferns that float on water. There are about a dozen species Salvia has three leaves and no roots, but one of the leaves functions as a root. y are used to decorate aquariums and garden pools. However, some species of Salvinia molesta is one of the species that has escaped garden ponds and become a noxious weed. It is important not to confused it with the native Azolla species which has a more conventional root system and two rows of bilobular leaves.

Salvinia molesta

Salvinia molesta floating moss or water spangle


Controlling Weeds

Prevention of Weeds

For garden beds you could try ECO weedmat with a healthy layer of mulch above. Another approach is to wet down some newspaper and lay it down in interlocking layers. This works surprisingly well, if you can get enough newspaper layers to achieve a minimum thickness of 8mm. On top of this you need around 100 mm of mulch. Cane mulch is fairly easy to move and lay on your garden bed and is reasonably priced. If you prefer a different look, this can be covered with more expensive pine bark, red or black mulch. The newspaper and mulch will kill most of the existing weeds as the sunlight is effectively blocked off. Any weeds that grow after the much is laid, will be easy to pull out. For best results, top up the mulch up as it rots down. Annual topping up should work well, depending on the type of mulch used. Take care not to mulch up against the stems of any woody plants, as this can cause collar rot. An very effective way to prevent weeds is to have a healthy garden full of vigorous plant growth. Tiering plants on different layers creates harmony, structure and reduces future maintenance by vertically spreading competition. Most weeds will not thrive if they are starved of sunlight. An Australian native ground cover like Creeping Boobialla (Myoporum parvifolium) will be very effective at suppressing weeds as well as providing food and habitat for birds and lizards.

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.


Creeping Boobialla (Myoporum parvifolium) is a hardy prostrate groundcover. It can grow to 1 metre high, but rarely gets this high when it is free to spread. During summer months it will have either purple or white flowers.This is an excellent choice for a spreading groundcover for a sunny well-drained position where some weed suppression is desired.


If you have weeds growing in your brick paving, then a simple and cheap method to eradicate them is to use boiling water. Spraying vinegar will kill off the leaves, but generally the roots will be unaffected. For your lawn, a weed removing tool like the Fiskars Xact Weed Puller from Bunnings is worth a try. Weeds can then be removed without bending or kneeling. For broadleaf weeds like dandelion in the lawn, you can try topdressing with sand. One of my favourite methods of weeding the lawn, is to use the lawn aerator to take the tap root out and aerate at the same time. If you have unwanted clover growing in your lawn, then decreasing the PH will make it difficult for the clover to thrive. Rhizobium bacteria in the legume nodule are less able to fix nitrogen for the plant under these conditions. As with the garden bed, the best prevention for lawn weeds is to have a health thriving lawn. For particularly bad infestation, you may need to use a selective herbicide.

Environmental Invasive species

Assistance with weed identification and control

The government has produced an Environmental Weeds booklet which aims to help residents identify weeds and provides information on how to control environmental weeds. The link is below.


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Xanthorrhoea The Australian Grass Tree


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Salvia Leucantha or Mexican Bush Sage


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More Information on Weeds


Which ones can you eat?


Environmental nuisance plants on Victoria


City of Boroondara – Strategies for prevention and removal.


Visual glossary of the weedy heritage of Melbourne, Australia.


How to remove Dandelions


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Bee collecting pollen and nectar

Neonicotinoid Pesticides Banned by Bunnings and the EU

Bunnings announced in 2018 that pesticides based on Neonicotinoid would be phased out by the end of 2018. On the 27 April 2018 the European union has banned the use of the three neonicotinoids on open ground. This is an expansion of the moratorium introduced in 2013 on the use of these pesticides on flowering crops.

 Usage of Pesticides

Pesticides are often coated onto seeds to protect them from soil pests. The Pesticide is absorbed when the seed germinates and then spreads through the plant as it grows finding its way to the pollen and nectar. This is where the honey bees and native bees as well as other pollinators are exposed to the poison.

Pesticides based on Neonicotinoids

Neonicotinoids are believed to be part of the massive dying off of bees and other insects that has occurred in Europe in recent times. The three neonicotinoids banned on open grounds are thiamethoxam, clothianidin and imidacloprid.

Neonicotinoid Pesticides Banned by Bunnings and EU due to harm to bees.

Neonicotinoid Pesticides Banned by Bunnings and EU due to potential harm to bees.

Study of neonicotinoid pesticides by York University.

A study by York university in Canada showed that long term exposure to neonicotinoids resulted in a reduction in the health of bees whose hives were near the cornfields being studied. Simiarly, earlier studies have shown that large amounts of neonicotinoids in pollen and nectar are fatal to both honey bee queens and workers. Smaller amounts have been shown to reduce the health of bees by inhibiting the bee’s natural foraging as well as adversely affecting the bees tolerance to other farm chemicals.
Whilst other studies have produced mixed results, the situation for insects in Europe is now critical. The earth has survived without these pesticides for millions of years, but pollenating insects like bees are vital to life on earth. If you are buying pesticides for your garden, avoid those with thiamethoxam, clothianidin or imidacloprid in the ingredients. It is not worth the risk to vital pollenating insects.


Fortunately the retailer Bunnings has already decided to remove neonicotinoid pesticides from their shelves by the end of 2018 as a precaution. If you are a gardener or a landscaper working in garden maintenance, review your pesticides use and avoid thiamethoxam, clothianidin or imidacloprid on open ground.

Related Landscaping ideas from Red’s Landscaping

Coastal Garden Design


National Eucalypt Day


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


© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil – Quality landscaping Melbourne


Red’s Landscaping YouTube Channel


Red’s Landscaping Pinterest Board


More Information on Neonicotinoids

Bunnings to pull pesticide allegedly linked to bee deaths


Beekeepers call for a ban on neonicotinoids.


European agency concludes controversial ‘neonic’ pesticides threaten bees


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Soil Profile showing showing the topsoil layer.

Melbourne Landscaping Topsoil Types

Topsoil in Melbourne

Topsoil in Melbourne is heavily dependent on the underlying geological material, if there has not been a history of topsoil ameliorations or importation of topsoil from other locations. According to the Department of Agriculture, topsoils of Melbourne can be divided into 9 distinct types. In some parts of Melbourne, the importation of topsoil will be a bigger factor than the geographic and climatic range.

Sporting grounds, in particular, will normally have a thick layer of imported friable topsoil so if your garden is built on one of the closed Melbourne racetracks like Richmond, Cheltenham or Braeside your topsoil could be different to your neighbour across the street.


What is Topsoil?


Topsoil is the layer of soil just below the surface layers. The surface layers are the layers containing the litter of plant residues as well as accumulated organic matter with some mineral soil and most of the soil life.

Typical Garden Topsoil

Typical Garden Topsoil


Nine types of Melbourne Topsoil


1.    Red Loam Topsoil

This could be the best natural topsoil in the whole of Melbourne as they are well structured deep and friable. These topsoils can be mildly acidic like most topsoils in hilly wooded ranges. They can be a little poor in plant nutrients, so regular amelioration with organic matter will be of great benefit to the soil. On lawn areas a light annual application of garden lime will help.

The red loam topsoil will mostly be found to the East of Melbourne in the upper Dandenong ranges and in the hills between Monbulk and Silvan. This type of topsoil will normally suit a wide range of plants as is has excellent drainage, and a good soil structure for plant root development.

Red sandy Loam topsoil.

Red sandy Loam topsoil.

2.    Brown Loam topsoil over Clay

These topsoils formed over the older basalts on the southern Mornington Peninsula. This is the brown-grey loamy friable topsoil naturally occurring in places between Main Ridge and Flinders. For best results in your garden, ameliorate with manure and organic matter. Take care not to cultivate too deep and bring the clay to the surface.

Brown Sandy Loam Topsoil

Brown Sandy Loam Topsoil similar in Colour and texture to Main Ridge Topsoils on the Mornington Peninsula .

3.    Dark grey sand topsoil over clay

These topsoils are found over a large part of Melbourne. The flat and undulating land between Kew and Mount Waverley as well as deeper topsoils in Tyabb, Balnarring Frankston and Mornington. This topsoil is also over a huge part of the Melbourne suburbs within a triangle from Dandenong to Cheltenham and over to Toorak. After long periods of heavy rainfall, a watertable may occur over the clays. It is important for Melbourne Landscapers to take drainage into account when landscaping on these soils. As with other Melbourne loam over clay soils, ameliorate with manure and organic matter. Take care not to cultivate too deep and bring the clay to the surface.


4.    Light Grey loams over clay

A light grey loam with some gravel and small stones found in the suburbs to the North East of Melbourne. These soils will be found around a strip from Rowville to Bundoora and from Croydon to Kew. At the boundary of the topsoil and clay layers large angular stones occur which makes digging drainage difficult for residential landscapers. Generally, these soils are deficient in humus and nutrients. Melbourne landscapers should dig in organic matter and manures to ameliorate these soils. As the clays here are generally reactive, an application of gypsum can help drainage and soil structure. A small amount of garden lime can be added to correct acidity.


5.    Gritty light grey loam over clay.

Topsoils formed over parent granite at Mount Martha and Arthurs Seat on the Mornington Peninsula as well as Hallam, Lysterfield and a few other places. The sandy loam is generally ok for drainage but has poor water holding capacity. The abrupt transition between the sandy loam and the mottled yellow brown and grey clay can lead to water logging on lower slopes in winter and spring.

If this is the case, landscapers should consider subsoil drainage systems. As the soil has poor water holding capacity, landscapers should dig in plenty of organic matter as well as install an irrigation system with a dripper. Generally, this soils are only mildly acidic.

6.    Dark Loams Local Sands and Clays

The parts of Melbourne which were previously swampy or flood plains like the Melbourne Suburbs close to the Yarra. These Melbourne suburbs include Banksia Park near Heidelberg and Bulleen. The frequently flooded Yarra floodplain of the lower-middle yarra river and tributaries were once covered in Manna gum, swamp gum and river red gum with swamp paperbark in the wettest areas. These are a mix of topsoils and it can be difficult to draw conclusions on drainage. Landscapers should ameliorate with manure and organic matter.


7.    Deep Sands free of Lime

This is the natural topsoil in coastal gardens between Black Rock and Brighton and along the coast of Port Phillip Bay all the way to Rye. Some of the land previously used for market gardens in Langwarrin and Cranbourne have this soil. These soils are generally very deficient in nutrients, so landscapers should dig in plenty of manure and organic matter to improve the soil. Annual applications of garden lime will help to neutralize the acidity.


8.    Deep Sands with Lime

The topsoil between Sorrento and Cape Schank in the coastal sand dune areas is a whitish grey sand occasionally over a hard lime base. These soils can be either acidic or alkaline, so if your plants are not thriving a soil PH test may be required. Landscapers should dig in plenty of manure and organic matter as well as install an irrigation dripper system. The coastal plant selection for these soils needs to be particularly salt, wind and lime tolerant.


9.    Heavy clay topsoil over basalts

The suburbs to the west and north-west of Melbourne are well known for their heavy clay soils. This area stretches all the way from Richmond to Broadmeadows and Altona to Thomastown. These soils are characterized by a thin loamy topsoil over dark reddish-brown heavy clays. Often outcrops of the basalt can been seen on the ground surface. The soil structure can be improved with the addition of gypsum and landscapers should dig in plenty of organic matter. For lawns and other gardens sandy loam soil will need to be imported. For the home landscaper, the digging of the requires drainage trenches can be difficult.



Landscaping poor draining topsoil

For your backyard or frontward lawn, the ground can be sloped a bit more to aid with drainage. Depending on the usage and the makeup of the layers below, you could probably get away with as little as 100 to 150mm of topsoil for your garden lawn. For example green couch Cynodon dactylon, the roots will penetrate the ground up to 1.5 metres deep with much of the root mass at around 600mm deep. For this reason the layer below the top soil needs to be suitable for root growth if you want your lawn to be drought tolerant.


Will gypsum help?


Clay soils


Gypsum is the most widely used calcium additive for garden. If you need gypsum, you can save money by buying it in bulk from your landscape supplier. If the subsoil has a hard clay layer the moisture and the roots might not penetrate or your lawn and you could have poor drainage. Some clays will respond to the addition of gypsum. This will be the case if the clay you have is a flocculant clay. Clays like montmorillonite with high levels of exchangeable sodium will generally be improved by digging in some gypsum. You can perform a simple soil test your clay by putting it in a jar with some pure water, then stirring to create colloidal mix. The mix will appear cloudy.You then add some Epsom salts or gypsum to the mix and watch what happens. If the clay then forms flocculant, or larger, particles that sink to the bottom of the jar leaving a clear layer of water, then your clay is flocculant. Individual clay particles are made up of fine flakes smaller than 0.004 mm. Depending on the type of clay, the fine particles are held tightly together by either weak bonds in the case of kaolinite or stronger bonds if the clay contains positively charged metal ions such as sodium, calcium or potassium. The negatively charged clay particles will repel each other but the individual flakes will bond to each other.


Negatively charged clay particles repel each other.

Negatively charged clay particles repel each other.



In the heavy flocculant clay topsoils of Melbourne’s western suburbs, gypsum can help to displace sodium and improve the soil structure.


Saline soils


If your garden is near Cape Schank or Sorrento, or if you have a windswept coastal garden, then you might have some soil salinity to contend with. This could also be the case if you are by the sea in Biggera Waters, Runaway Bay or Hollywell and get sea water spray on your lawns and gardens. With saline soil, gypsum will also help as the calcium in the gypsum will remove sodium from the soil.


The disadvantages of gypsum

After an application of gypsum, you should follow up later with slow release fertiliser like Neutrog. Upsurge. Nutrients such as Iron and Manganese can be leached from the soil by the addition of gypsum. Applying excessive gypsum to sandy soils can result in the plants transportation system for zinc, copper and phosphorus being affected.


Agricultural lime

Agricultural lime may be a combination of calcium and magnesium carbonates if it is made from dolomitic rather than calcitic limestone deposits. Use on acidic soils to increase the PH.


Soil Testing

Soil testing kits can be used for simple PH checks of your garden soils. If your plants are not thriving despite all of the care and attention, then samples of your soil can be taken to a laboratory for analysis.

Soils can be tested in a laboratory for salinity or contamination.

Soils can be tested in a laboratory for salinity or contamination.

Buying Landscaping soils

When buying landscaping topsoil, always check that you are buying a high-quality product that meets the Australian Standard for topsoil. Soil should also be free of weeds and other contaminants. For lawns, your topsoil needs to be very free draining. The best soil for top dressing lawns is a very sandy soil. For garden beds a little bit of the natural clay soil mixed in will help water retention.

The soil is an indispensable ingredient for the life of humans, animals and ,of course, plants. The soil supplies nutrients and raw materials, storage and filtered water. The soil can degrade harmful chemicals but healthy soil should not be taken for granted. If we allow our soil to be overused, or allow a hard crust to form, then the soil will require amendments to replenish the nutrient store and to make the soil friable. Water will tend to run-off taking some of the soil and nutrients with it.

A healthy soil will contain a great deal of life. Not just microorganisms like bacteria and fungus, but also earthworms. Many of these will form a symbiotic relationship with your plants.

In Melbourne we a lucky enough to have some great resources to improve and maintain the health of your soil. First of all, you should be using a layer of mulch. Mulches such as pea straw and sugar cane mulch will decompose relatively quickly and bring your soil to life. This is especially true when used with an organic fertiliser. If you are after a different look to the sugar cane mulch, you can always use a different mulch over the top. Take care not to mulch up to the truck of trees or shrubs, as this can lead to collar rot. If using a mulch like pea straw, make sure it is weed free. Secondly, consider using a soil tonic to improve your topsoil.


© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil – Melbourne Landscaper.


More Information on Topsoil


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Environment - Clean Water

Environmental Policy for Commercial Landscaping

Environmental Policy aims

The aim of the Red’s Landscaping and Civil Environmental’s and Sustainability Policy is to provide effective environmental management that emphasises:

  1. a planned and proactive approach
  2. commitment and involvement of managers and officers at all levels
  3. meaningful and effective involvement of employees and other workers
  4. identification and control of potential sources of waste and pollution
  5. the development of a workplace culture that recognises the importance of environmental management and sustainability.
  6. appropriate provision of instruction, training, information and supervision


Environmental Protection Policy Responsibilities


The importance of environmental management requires that employees, sub-contractors and visitors take steps to safeguard the environment. Not only because of the potential legal implications, but also because it is the duty of companies to exceed the requirements of environmental legislation.

Employers and self-employed persons should be proactive and take all reasonable measures, to ensure a high standard of environmental protection;

Employers and employees should exchange information and ideas about risks to the environment and measures that can be taken to eliminate or reduce those risks;

Employees encouraged to submit ideas regarding waste minimisation, continuous improvement, health and safety and environmental protection. These are agenda items for the tool box meetings.

Environmental and Sustainability Policy Mission Statement

Environmental Policy

Red’s Landscape Gardening will comply with, and exceed, all local, state and federal laws and regulations on:

  • disposing of hazardous waste (including EPA’s list of prescribed industrial waste), trade waste (i.e. waste added to the sewer) and waste water.
  • safe handling, storage and transport of hazardous waste and dangerous goods
  • noise
  • land use
  • air pollution and carbon emissions



Red’s Landscape Gardening will set targets each year to increase energy and water efficiency and seek opportunities for reducing and recycling waste. To do this, we will:


  • investigate ways to reduce consumption or recycle waste. E.g formwork recycling.
  • give preference to maintenance and other contractors using green products


  • buy electrical and lighting systems rated as energy efficient
  • use accredited GreenPower, either in part or whole


  • buy appliances rated as water efficient
  • install irrigation systems that are designed to save water and minimise losses due to evaporation.
  • Select drought tolerant plant indigenous to the area where possible.


  • look for opportunities to improve waste management. Sustainability Victoria has tips on good waste management. Regular site inspections to identify potential safety and environmental hazards as well as potential waste reduction opportunities.
eco friendly recycling

Eco friendly recycling must be used were practical.





Environmental Policy –Soft Landscaping

  • We are committed to conservation and protection of trees, especially large canopy trees that take many years to mature.
  • effective mulching to reduce losses due to evaporation.
  • Use natural fertilisers where possible.
  • Identify and report any noxious or problem weeds.
  • The application of garden chemical shall supervised by suitably qualified and experienced personal. The supervisor must hold a recognised chemical handling license. All chemicals must be clearly labelled and food containers must not be used for chemicals.
  • Chemicals must be stored under lock and key with appropriate measures for spillage or leakage. An MSDS must be on site with any chemicals.
  • Materials brought into the worksite must be certified to the appropriate Standard.




Environmental PolicyConstruction and Demolition Waste


Building and construction sites create pollution, including different types of waste, noise and dust. Measures must be taken to minimise the impact of our work on the health of people and the environment.

Environmental Protection. Legal demolition waste disposal

Responsible Waste removal. Waste receipt dockets from an approved waste disposal facility are the only guarantee that waste from the site is going to the right place.

EnvironmentalWaste generators

As a waste generator, Red’s Landscaping and Civil is responsible for ensuring waste is taken to a facility that can lawfully accept it. Waste receipt dockets from an approved waste disposal facility are the only guarantee that waste from the site is going to the right place.

Construction and demolition (C&D) activities generate a wide range of industrial waste materials including:

  • excavated material such as rock and soil
  • waste asphalt, bricks, concrete, plasterboard, timber and vegetation
  • asbestos and contaminated soil.

If not managed responsibly, these waste streams can pollute the environment, pose a public health risk (particularly asbestos and contaminated soil) and pose amenity issues.

How to dispose of Construction and Demolition waste

“Under section 27A(2) of the Environment Protection Act 1970 (EP Act), any person (including a waste generator, transporter or receiver) who dumps or permits the inappropriate disposal of industrial waste at a place that cannot lawfully accept that waste type faces a fine of more than $7500, or up to $777,300 (5000 penalty units) if prosecuted. EPA can require the waste generator, transporter and receiver to clean up and pay for waste to be taken to a lawful place.”

Tips for managing Construction and Demolition waste

  • Know what types of waste will be generated during excavation, demolition and construction.
  • If a quote for managing waste is low, find out why. The company may be avoiding costs by taking the waste to a place that cannot lawfully be used as a waste facility.
  • While not a requirement, preparing and implementing a waste management plan ahead of demolition is an effective way of managing lawful waste disposal. A good plan would include:
    • details of each type of waste that will be generated, and the management action proposed for each type of waste
    • procedures that ensure the waste is dispose of at a lawful place
    • a description of the roles and responsibilities of everyone who manages the waste, including the site supervisor and subcontractors.


  • The level of detail in the waste management plan should reflect the size and complexity of the project’s waste issues.
  • Regularly update the waste management plan to record how waste is managed and audit where waste is taken.
  • Provide adequate supervision to ensure waste management plans are implemented and complied with, and regularly audit everyone who manages waste on your behalf.
  • Provide training about the waste management plan and protecting the environment.
  • Keep accurate written records such as:
    • who transported the waste (company name, ABN, vehicle registration and driver details, date and time of transport, description of waste)
    • copies of waste receipts from the waste facility (date and time of delivery, name and address of the facility, its ABN, contact person)

Drainage and runoff

Melbourne has many beautiful waterways that are very sensitive to the effects of pollution.

During construction rainwater may flow into onsite or nearby drainage systems as well as nearby creeks and river systems. This can lead do contamination of the water from the worksite or clogging of drains or waterways from picked up sediment or litter. Appropriate measures such as bunding must be taken to mitigate against this. Potential contamination of groundwater must also be considered.

Wetlands require environmental protection during landscape construction.

Wetlands require environmental protection during landscape construction.

Environmental Protection Agency – Works Approvals


Works approvals are issued by EPA Victoria under the Environment Protection Act 1970 .They are required for industrial and waste management activities that have the potential for significant environmental impact.

A works approval permits plant and equipment to be installed, the operation of which will result in one or more of:

  • the discharge of waste to the environment
  • an increase in, or alteration to, an existing discharge
  • a change in the way waste is treated or stored.


CO2 emissions

To minimise CO2 emissions Red’s Landscaping and Civil has introduced the following strategies.


  • Car-pooling amongst employees.
  • Selecting vehicles that run on alternative fuels. Such as;
    • 30% Ethanol.
    • PHEV (where feasible.)
  • Keeping the vehicle in good condition and getting the longest possible life out of them.
  • Use local suppliers as close as possible to the worksite.



The construction industry is one of the largest contributors of atmospheric carbon dioxide, with concrete alone responsible for up to 8% of all anthropogenic carbon emissions. Carbon dioxide is released as a by-product when limestone (calcium carbonate) is heated to produce cement.

To minimise CO2 from the use of concrete Red’s Landscaping and Design has the following strategies.


  • Very accurate calculation of required concrete.
    • A professional estimator is used to accurately estimate quantities.
    • Accurate surveying of the worksite to drawing.
    • Accurate control of formwork dimensions.
    • Thinking ahead with form work to create a use for leftover concrete.
    • Checking drawings for excessively large foundation sections etc.
    • Issuing Purchase order with the correct quantity and grade of concrete.
    • Working with concrete suppliers on low clinker mixes when they become available.


This policy references following legislation in the State of Victoria;





Additional Environmental Protection Regulations – Queensland Government

Environmental protection regulation 2019





© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil quality commercial landscaping Melbourne


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Banksia Coccinea Garden Ideas

Banksia Coccinea, like all Banksias, is a member of the proteaceae family, which is in turn a member of the protea order.  Banksias, also known as the Australian Honeysuckle, are named after the famous botanist Joseph Banks, who sailed to Australia with Captain Cook.

Garden Design Ideas. Banksia coccinea can be a great focal point in smaller gardens or in commercial landscape projects.

Banksia Coccinea Garden Ideas

Banksia Coccinea facts

Native to the coastal sand dunes on the southern edge of Western Australia, Banksia coccinea is also known as the Albany banksia, the Waratah banksia or the scarlet banksia. It natural habitat is slightly acidic, deep sandy soil in scrubby areas with reasonable rainfall. This makes it a good plant for coastal gardens with sandy soils. This Banksia can be grown either as a shrub or a small tree. Normally growing to around 5 metres, it can grow as high as 8 metres tall. If you are designing for a small garden, consider using one or two of these as a focal point in your small garden design. Banksia Coccinea is also a favourite with florists with its vivid dark red, orange or scarlet pistels. Banksia Coccinea’s magnificent flowers and attractive foliage make it popular with florists as well as gardeners. An added bonus is the very long flowering period.


It can be in flower from June all the way through to January, which is great for the wildlife which will come to feast on the abundant nectar. After the flowering season the seeds will also attract cockatoos to your garden.

Nice picture of a Banksia coccinea during an Australian sunny day

Garden Ideas. Banksia coccinea has dark green serrated leaves that are grey green underneath.

Garden Maintenance for your Banksia Coccinea

Better suited to sandy soils and warm dry temperate climates, this banksia can be sensitive to clay soils. If you are in a humid climate like the Melbourne, make sure you prune it to allow plenty of air circulation. As it is drought tolerant, and requires very little watering, this plant is ideal for sunny positions in your Melbourne coastal garden. Feed this plant  lightly twice per year with a low phosphorus fertiliser, and water sparingly.  A good fertiliser for native plants is Neutrog Bush Tucker.

Benefits for Wildlife in the Garden Landscape

In addition to its attractive appearance Banksia coccinea is a prolific nectar producer.  This will attract nectar eating native birds like Honeyeaters and rainbow lorikeets to your garden as well as bees and even small marsupials. The seeds are eaten by birds such as cockatoos, making it the perfect plant for attracting wildlife.

Garden Design Idea. Growing Banksias will attract wildlife like Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus moluccanus) to your garden.

Contact Experienced Landscape Gardeners

For help with the design and development or your landscaping ideas, contact one of our experienced Landscape Gardeners. We can help with small garden design all the way up to  Commercial Landscape design.  Our specialities include fast growing screening plants, plant health and horticulture, garden lighting and outdoor pool landscaping ideas.

For more landscape garden design ideas, take a look at our Garden Design blog.

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5 top tips. Landscaping Melbourne with Lomandra.


The hardy and Drought Resistant Lomandra Plant


The Lomandra plant is considered a common plant in Australia and a key feature of any Melbourne Seascape. Hardy and drought resistant, thrives in the salty air of the Melbourne and always looks green and gorgeous.

The name Lomandra is from the Greek Loma meaning an edge or border and andra meaning man. The scientific name is Lomandra confertifolia ssp rubiginosa.

It was once thought to be in the same family as Xanthorrhoea and the two appear to have a lot in common.

Lomandra is actually a member of the subfamily Lomandroideae and the family Asparagaceae who are a genus of perennial herbs.

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.


There are approximately 50 known species like Lomandra banksil, Lomandra effusa, Lomandra patens and more species, all native to Australia hence the extreme drought tolerant properties and hardiness.

The Lomandra is one of the toughest, most reliable landscape plants and soft evergreen foliage and it’s for this reason that landscapers value it so often in their designs. Especially for people looking for great looking low maintenance gardens all-year-round.

Lomandra makes a great contrast against this grey tree trunk.

Lomandra makes a great contrast against this grey tree trunk.


Lomandra Seascape


The Lomandra Seascape has beautiful blue-grey foliage and elegant weeping habit. It is evergreen in most situations and almost indestructible.

During summer highly fragrant small yellow blooms appear that fill the air with a sweet aroma and the very fragrant small yellow flowers emerge from reddish-brown buds on spikes that rise up to the top of the foliage.

The flowers are cream to bright yellow, hence the common name.

The male flowers are ball-shaped, up to 2mm in length, while the female flowers are more tubular, up to 3mm in length. Lomandra extremely frost hardy and drought tolerant, because it has long dark blue-grey slender leaves, forms a clump in a weeping habit and foliage type is linear.

It can be grown in full sun or partial shade and fertile well-drained soil once a month, it can grow in a range of sandy soils, in swamps and wet places to the montane zone on banks of creeks, rocky hillsides, cliffs and open forests.

And it is considered a highly colourful plant that has attractive foliage, rabbit resistant, winter interest and low maintenance.

That Dark green foliage grass like plant is low-growing and low-maintenance, remarkable container or groundcover display.

The Lomandra ticks all the boxes for a wide variety of landscape designs, especially this close to the salty ocean breeze.

The hardy lomandra is ideal for public spaces like nature strips and along side highways of around street trees.

The hardy lomandra is ideal for public spaces like nature strips and along side highways of around street trees.


How to plant Lomandra Seascape


To plant Lomandra we have several requirements.

  • Water as required for 8-13 weeks until established.
  • Plant in a well-mulched garden (chunky mulch is recommended).
  • Ensure crown or base of the plant is not below soil or mulch level and if required use slow-release fertilizer in spring.
  • Every 3-10 years cut back 15cm above the ground if required (it will look better with pruning every 3 years, this depends on your requirements).

Lomandra propagates by seed or clump division and spreads by underground creeping rhizomes and when affected by fire will re-establish from these.

These species become noticeable at flowering time – mainly from October to November, but this may vary according to locality.

There is no special soil PH requirement and it can grow in a semi-shaded area like light woodland or non-shaded area.

It is relatively easy to maintain Lomandra. Moist soil is required for growth of the plant, but it would not die out without water.

It is a compact perennial herb growing up to 50cm tall in sparse clumps up to 20cm in diameter with a semi-arching habit.

The leaves are stiff, approximately 3mm to 5mm in width, with inrolled margins and are dull green to bluish-green in colour.

Lomandra Flower

Lomandra Flower

Lomandra Leaves

Each leaf is tipped with one to three tiny light brown points.

When the fruits are matured and turn brown, sow the seed in moist soil for 6 weeks in the greenhouse or outdoor than the clump division started by dividing the plant into half and plant them in moist soil indoor or outdoor.

There is not much cultivation limitation for this plant in Australia, but the plant can die back when it is in a wet winter nor does it survive well in areas with cooler summers.


Landscaping uses of Lomandra Seascape


Lomandra is a versatile plant for garden design, and ideal for mass plantings, patio pots, rockeries and border perimeters.

This is a hardy, attractive plant which is quick to establish yet non-invasive preferring to contain itself to clumping to approximately 75cm diameter.

It is particularly useful in small gardens and courtyards as a design feature and can be planted to complement native grasses.

As it is slow growing this makes it ideal as a container plant. This form and colour make it a great plant for a raised planter or large pot where the foliage can arch over to hide an edge.

Aboriginal people use the leaves of Lomandra to make strong nets and baskets, and they consume the base of Lomandra leaves as food. So we can classify uses of Lomandra with the following.

Urban landscapes: Plants in public open spaces cop all kinds of mistreatment. They are regularly trampled or even pulled out and their growing environment is often less than ideal.

Heat from pavements, buildings, roads etc combined with poor air quality and limited irrigation render the urban landscape one of the most difficult areas for growing plants.

Road Corridors: Even more hostile than the urban landscape is the roadside environment.

Non-irrigated, north facing batters present the greatest challenge. Lomandra are proven performers on the verges and median strips of roads and freeways.

Formal Gardens: Lomandra certainly have a place in the palette of the formal garden. Too often it is assumed that these plants belong in rustic bush garden settings only.

Many Lomandra have the regular form so vital in a formal planting. Used well they can provide another dimension of foliage contrast and as borders for pathways, garden edges and retaining walls.

Mass plant under specimen trees or large shrubs for a great formal effect

Containers: Narrow-leaved Lomandra looks fabulous in containers. It looks good in single pots as ‘specimens’, however, if planted in clusters of pots with perhaps the pot size or height being the only variable, the effect can be remarkable.

Basket Weaving: The strappy leaves of Lomandra make it suitable for basket weaving. In children’s play spaces we can construction of Lomandra baskets



Lomandra Distribution 

Species grow all along the east coast of Australia. Queensland, N.S.W., Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania are the most common areas for the plants to grow naturally.

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mediterranean garden ideas

Mediterranean Garden Design Ideas

Mediterranean garden design

The Mediterranean garden design is not just beautiful, it is often a very practical low maintenance garden solution for landscaping Melbourne gardens. Historically Melbourne winters are cool but short in duration. The summers are hot and  we have experienced more of the hotter drier weather over the past few years. Clear skies and moderate to high winds are often experienced in Melbourne especially in the beachside suburbs of Brighton and Elwood. The recent hot dry summers are typical of the Mediterranean climate and are more often experienced in cities like Adelaide and Perth. What this means for landscaping Melbourne gardens is that we can learn the lessons from gardens developed for hot dry summers over the millennia.

What is a Mediterranean Garden?

From a purely garden design perspective, much of the essence of the Mediterranean garden lies in the choice of materials, textures and colours. Garden features such as cobbled paving, tiles, stones, bricks and especially terracotta will enhance the Mediterranean feel. Neatly clipped hedges, gravel mulch, and soft colours contrasting with brightly coloured tiles are often features in the Mediterranean garden. For landscaping Melbourne gardens, consider mixing this with less formal ,drought tolerant plants and plants which give off a pleasant aroma.


Mediterranean garden - Terracotta pot and lavender

Mediterranean garden – Terracotta pot and lavender. Great colours to have together.

Mediterranean Garden Ideas

Mediterranean garden design often features terracotta pots and lavender. The cool  purple of the lavender and the warm earthy tones of the terracotta pots are close to complimentary colours. This means they look good together in garden design. The  green  foliage of the lavender works as an accent to the colour scheme.
The hot dry summers of the Mediterranean create perfect conditions for outdoor eating. In these gardens you will often find pergolas covered with scented climbing plants or grape vines.

What Plants are in a Mediterranean Garden?

Some plants to consider for growing over your pergola include wisteria, grape vines, climbing roses, jasmine and the Chinese Trumpet vine (Campsis grandiflora). For landscaping Melbourne the Mediterranean plants are generally a good choice although some may not like a heavy clay soil. Some varieties of lavender require a well drained soil.


Mediterranean garden design with vines on a pergola. The Pergola is also a great addition to the Melbourne Garden. The classic terracotta pots resemble Greek amphora.

Mediterranean garden design with vines on a pergola. The Pergola is also a great addition to the Melbourne Garden. The classic terracotta pots resemble Greek amphora.


Garden plants for this garden style include Salvia Leucantha or Mexican Bush Sage,  and Lavender (Lavendula). Trees include box hedges and Italian pencil pines. (Cupressus sempervirens) or Italian cypress.
Outdoor eating under a shady pergola is a key feature of Mediterranean garden design. This is also ideal for Melbourne gardens.

Mediterranean Garden Design Australia

Within the broad garden design concept of Mediterranean gardens there are many different individual garden styles  available to the Melbourne gardener to choose from. These range from the very neat formal style to the less formal, more drought tolerant, low maintenance gardens. This variety reflects the many influences of the Mediterranean garden culture, from the Ottomans, the Moors, the Greeks and the Romans. Each of these cultures came up with different solutions for the Mediterranean garden based on their needs and desires. These design ideas were then brought back to Britain by landscape designers and architects on the Grand Tour. Modern landscape designers now put their own interpretation on these design solutions to produce a variety of very different design outcomes.



Rural house decorated with flowers in pots, Gourdon France

Rural house decorated with flowers in pots, Gourdon France


mediterranean style garden - Chelsea Flower Show 2018

A mediterranean style like this can result in a low maintenance and drought tolerant garden ideal for landscaping Melbourne Gardens – Chelsea Flower Show 2018


A formal Mediterranean garden with neatly trimmed box hedges and Italian pencil pines. (Cupressus sempervirens) or Italian cypress. Giusti Garden in Verona,Italy

Water fountains and gardens near Almudaina Palace in Palma de Majorca, Balearic Islands Spain


Gardens and water fountains near Almudaina Palace in Palma, Mallorca, Spain. Water features like this are often an important feature in Spanish gardens.

Contact us

For help with the design  and development or your landscaping ideas, contact one of our experienced Landscape Gardeners. We can help with small garden design all the way up to  Commercial Landscape design.

Our specialities include fast growing screening plants, plant health and horticulture, garden lighting  and outdoor pool landscaping ideas.

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The Coastal Pandanus Tree Pandanus Tectorius Under Threat

Pandanus tree under threat on the Gold Coast

The coastal Pandanus tree (Pandanus tectorius) is now under threat from the native leaf hopper (Jamella australiae) in South East Queensland. Although the two have co-existed for a long time, the leaf hoppers numbers are normally kept in check by its natural predator a tiny wasp known as Aphanomerus pusillus. The problem is believed to have been caused by trees being shipped south from Northern Queensland with the leaf hopper on board. Unfortunately, the tiny Aphanomerus pusillus wasp missed the trip.
Drastic action is now being undertaken on the Gold Coast with Pandanus trees being heavily pruned back or even cut down in the interests of public safety. In 2015 on Fraser Island thousands of Pandanus trees died due to the diseases spread by the leaf hopper. Just North of Noosa at the Great Sandy National Park around 20 percent of the pandanus trees have died. Another 2500 trees were showing the effects of the infestation. Joel Fostin from the University of the Sunshine Coast has been studying the problem on Frazer Island and is undertaking research on biological controls using the Aphanomerus pusillus wasp.

How to check your Pandanus

Normally even healthy Pandanus trees will have some dead leaf at the base of the leaf head. If you see a large amount of unexpected dead leaf material in the centre of the head, there is a good chance you have the infestation. Look for the black sooty mould caused by the leaf hopper’s secretions on the tree’s trunk or leaves. Also look for cast insect skin casings or insect egg cases between the leaf sheaths or on the underside of leaves.

Treating the infestation

Contact your local council if you see signs of infestation. Prune the plant back hard and seal the trimmed material in a bag. This material should be mulched or composted. When buying plants use locally grown stock from a reputable plant nursery. Inspect plants carefully for any sign of infestation before buying. Your local plant nursery should have a skilled horticulturist on hand to check the health of your plants.

About the Pandanus tectorius or screw pine.

A small tree which can reach up to 6 metres tall with leaves up to 1 metre long. Prop roots at the base of the tree help to anchor the plant in sandy soil.

Contact us

For help with the design  and development or your landscaping ideas, contact one of our experienced Landscape Gardeners. We can help with small garden design all the way up to  Commercial Landscape design.  Our specialities include fast growing screening plants, plant health and horticulture, garden lighting  and outdoor pool landscaping ideas.

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Xanthorrhoea The Australian Grass Tree

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.

How much do grass trees grow per year?

For small gardens slow growing plants like these are ideal. With a growth rate of around 25mm per year, it is will take a long time to outgrow any garden. In larger gardens, the irregular shaped trunk and profuse leaves can be used to soften any sharpe edges in your design. It is estimated that the Xanthorrhoea will live to around 400 years. It is also a great pot plant, but should be repotted at least every 50 years or so. To create an interesting contrast, consider planting some orange, red or pink Anigozanthos ‘Bush Pearl’ kangaroo paws nearby. Kangaroo paws also thrive in similar growing conditions.


How may species of Xanthorrhoea are there?

It will surprise many people to learn that there are around 30 species and these are only found in Australia. As with most plants, it is important to understand its natural habitat to recreate ideal growing conditions.

How do you take care of a grass tree?

In our blog on orchids and vertical gardens we mentioned the symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi helps plants to survive nutrient poor conditions. This means that if you take care of the mycorrhizal fungi, you take care of the host plant. To boost mycorrhizal fungi try diluting 1/2 cup of brown sugar in 5 litres of water. Apply this solution every month.

How did Xanthorrhoea get its name?

Every year of its growth, the Xanthorrhoea species produces a ring of leaves around the trunk. At the base of the leaves are resin secreting glands. It is this resin that gives the plant its name. The name Xanthorrhoea comes from the ancient Greek – Xanthos meaning yellow and rhoia meaning flowing. This resin binds the leaf bases together in a bundle. The glued bundle of leaves forms an effective insulator that restricts air circulation and combustion of the trunk. The resin was used as a glue by the original inhabitants of Australia for making tools and spears. Even if the trunk is destroyed by fire, plants can regenerate from root or stem buds.

Garden design with xanthorrhoea. Every year a ring of leaves is produced around the trunk glued with resin.

Garden design with xanthorrhoea. Every year a ring of leaves is produced around the trunk glued with resin.

Types of Xanthorrhoea

Some species of Xanthorrhoea have been know to reach 6 metres whilst some others like Xanthorrhoea gracilis, have a branched trunk. Some species. like the swamp grass tree Xanthorrhoea fulva have no truck at all.
In Queensland and northern NSW a common and widespread species of is the Xanthorrhoea johnsonii. The nectar rich flower spikes attract birds, bees and butterflies.

Xanthorrhoea johnsonii. Mareeba, Queensland

Xanthorrhoea johnsonii. Mareeba, Queensland


Xanthorrhoea glauca is another one native to Queensland and New South Wales. The blue grey green leaves give the plant its glauca name. γλαυκός or glaukós comes from the ancient Greek for Blue-Green. When designing your landscape, use a contrasting mulch to highlight the rich colour.


The blue-green leaves of Xanthorrhoea glauca create a great contrast with pebbles or stone mulch.

The blue-green leaves of Xanthorrhoea glauca create a great contrast with pebbles or stone mulch.

Swamp grass tree Xanthorrhoea fulva. This species has been know to hybridise with both glauca and johnsonii.


Xanthorrhoea fulva or Swamp Grass Tree.


This compact species with no trunk is great for any sized garden and is more tolerant of heavier soils. Like the other species, it it a great way to attract wildlife to your garden.



Grass trees are great for attracting wildlife including birds to your garden.

Grass trees are great for attracting wildlife including birds to your garden.


Grass trees are great for bees and other insects.

Grass trees are great for bees and other insects.

Do grass trees need to be burnt?

Xanthorrhoeas have adapted over the years to not only endure bushfires, but to thrive on them. Grass trees have evolved to induce flowering after bushfires as this is the optimal time for offspring to germinate. With little to no competition around and with ash present in the soil, the grass tree germination strike rate is greatly improved. It has been said that some people even do controlled burns on their grass trees using chicken wire, news paper. It is believed by many that this artificial simulation of a bushfire can Induce the plant to flower or stimulate new foliage and root growth after transplanting.

Choosing and caring for your Xanthorrhoea.

It is very important to only buy your Xanthorrhoea from a reputable garden nursery. Grass trees are often a harvested plant. This means that they are usually removed from land and re-potted for sale. They have a Xanthorrhoea Glauca hybrid which is entirely pot grown. It is important to note that it is illegal to remove plants from the bush in Queensland without a permit.
As great care is required in this process to ensure the mycorrhizal fungi is maintained in good contact with the root system in the potting process, a reputable supplier should alway be used. When planting your Xanthorrhoea ensure you keep as much soil as possible around the roots. These plants prefer sandy well drained soil and full sun. If you have a heavy clay soil, dig out an area equivalent to around 2-3 times the pot diameter and replace the soil with a sandy loam soil. Building up the level of the garden or adding extra sub soil drainage will help.

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9 great ideas for Orchids, Walls and Vertical Gardens

Orchids are a great plant for landscape design and have many practical uses.

Vertical Gardens

For the creation of vertical gardens, the use of epiphytic species from the Orchid and Bromeliads families are a beautiful and practical solution. If you are living in a Melbourne townhouse with a small garden, vertical gardens or green walls to hide a fences, an unsightly pillar or even a tree truck will add beauty and value to your home and help create the illusion of space. Recent studies have shown plants in green walls to be effective in reducing harmful nitrogen dioxide and particulate pollution in outdoor urban areas. If you are designing a landscape garden for a swimming pool a green wall, or vertical garden, might be a great way to hide the pool pump and filter and reduce noise transmission from the pump at the same time. The noise attenuation abilities of green walls could also be of benefit if you are looking to reduce the noise transmission from your neighbours or tyre and traffic noise from a nearby road. A solid wall covered in plants, placed as close as possible to the noise source will create an effective noise barrier. Where the green wall can be used to great effect for noise reduction is where there is a solid flat structure like a concrete tilt up fence or a high straight garden retaining wall. In these cases the green walls or vertical gardens can greatly reduce the echo as well has beautify.

Indoor Plants

These plants are also great as indoor plants and also have terrestrial or soil based species for your outdoor garden.  Indoor plants have been shown to improve air quality by trapping and capturing pollutants. This could also be the case with narrow outdoor spaces with vertical gardens.

Orchids – Species and varieties

With more than 28,000 species and nearly 1,000 genera, the orchid family must be one of the most prolific as well as the most widely spread flowers in the world. Well known for growing in the wet tropics, these colourful and fragrant plants have also colonised the tropics, sub tropic and temperate climates. Some species have even been discovered in the deserts as well as north of the arctic circle. So prolific is the Orchidaceae, as the orchid family is known, that new species are being discovered on a regular basis. Orchidaceae is a member of Asparagales, meaning that it is related to both the asparagus and another beautiful showy flower, the iris.

Orchids in a Banana boat - Kew Gardens

Colourful orchids in a banana boat – Kew Gardens

The name orchid comes to us via the Latin orchis from the Greek ὄρχις (orkhis) meaning testicle. This name is based on the shape of the root tuber in some species.The name avocado has a similar sense.

Terrestrial or epiphytic plants

Varieties of orchids - The coconut pie orchid Maxillaria tenuifolia. A epiphytic orchid from Central America. Usually, but not always, found growing in trees. These will bring the fragrance of coconut pie to your vertical gardens. - Kew Gardens

The coconut pie orchid Maxillaria tenuifolia. A epiphytic orchid from Central America. Usually, but not always, found growing in trees. These will bring the fragrance of coconut pie to your vertical gardens. – Kew Gardens

Epiphytic Plants

A plant that depends on the physical support of another plant or structure is known as an epiphyte. This includes some species of ferns, many bromeliads as well some of the orchid species. For these plants, nutrients often come from rain water and debris. Recent research shows that far from being harmful to the tree, there are benefits for the host tree as well. To survive on such slim pickings, the orchid makes use of a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi on the root system. These fungi effectively extend the root area of plants but can be disrupted by the use of the wrong fertilisers.

An epiphytic orchid growing on a tree branch. Epiphytic orchids are ideal for vertical gardens.

An epiphytic orchid growing on a tree branch. Epiphytic orchids are ideal for vertical gardens. – Kew Gardens

The ability to pull nutrients from thin air, and the fact that heavy soils or growing media are not required, make epiphytic plants ideal for the creation of vertical gardens. Whilst the majority of the tropical orchid species are epiphytes; nearly all the orchids in the temperate zones, however, are terrestrial.

Growing media for epiphytic plants in vertical gardens

For a medium to cradle the epiphytic root systems in vertical gardens, sphagnum moss is ideal. Moisten the moss and pack it against the branch. Use a bit of coconut coir around the moss to keep it contained and help retain the moisture. The coir can then be attached to the branch with hot melt glue, fishing line, twine or garden tie wire. Cut a slit in the coir and insert your plant and pack it with some extra moss. The coir can then be covered with mosses or lichens. A coir liner for a hanging basket makes a good pouch you can staple to a tree branch then fill with sphagnum moss and your orchid. Add some slits to allow the roots to grow out. Don’t be too worried if some of the root system is exposed to dappled sunlight. There is even a species of orchid that has given away using leaves for photosynthesis. The endangered Dendrophylax lindenii (Ghost Orchid) of the American everglades photosynthesizes with its roots and needs to be grown with the roots exposed.


Orchid Varieties - Oncidium orchid Van Lansberger. -  Kew Gardens

Oncidium orchid Van Lansberger. –  Kew GardensFor a medium to cradle the epiphytic root systems in vertical gardens, sphagnum moss is ideal. Moisten the moss and pack it around the roots. You can use a bit of coconut coir around that if you wish and then bind the whole mass to the plant with twine.

Phalaenopsis (moth orchids) enjoy the warmth. When grown as an indoor plant they have long-lasting flowers all year.

Phalaenopsis (moth orchids) enjoy the warmth. When grown as an indoor plant they have long-lasting flowers all year.

Orchid vertical gardens ideas. - Kew Gardens

Orchid vertical gardens ideas. – Kew Gardens


For added impact, consider the use of Garden Lighting to highlight the colours in the evening.

Terrestrial Orchids for indoors.

Cymbidium orchid is a house plant that requires distinctive temperature changes between day and night to flower well.

The Cymbidium orchid requires temperature fluctuations to flower well. Kew Gardens

The Cymbidium orchid requires temperature fluctuations to flower well. Kew Gardens

Slipper orchids or Paphiopedilums have slipper shaped pouches to help pollination. The pollinating insect gets trapped inside the pouch. To be released the insect needs to rub against the anther. The insect then takes this pollen to the stigma of the next slipper orchid thus pollinating it. For pollinating insects there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Slipper orchids Paphiopedilums get their name from their unique pouch

Slipper orchids Paphiopedilums get their name from their unique pouch

Vanda Orchids

For horticultural uses, the Vanda genus is the one most often used in the flower industry. These colourful orchids, from the family Orchidaceae, consist of about 45 species distributed from East Asia to Australia. Twelve of these species grow in Thailand. Most species have long, sturdy stems that bear closely spaced, strap-shaped leaves. By crossing species within the genus, many attractive hybrids have been developed. Some other hybrid species have been developed by crossing the Vanda species with species of other orchid genera. Colours include blood red, hot pink, blue, purple, or mottled.

Varieties of orchids. Vandas have a spectacular range of blooms, with flowers in blood red, hot pink, blue, purple, or mottled.

Vandas have a spectacular range of blooms, with flowers in blood red, hot pink, blue, purple, or mottled. – Kew Gardens

Vanda flowers have spectacular colours and patterns with particularly large blooms. They are usually flat with have a short spur on the lip. The colours and patterns seen on many orchid flowers can be explained by the way pollinators are attracted to the flowers. Flowers pollinated by bees open during the day and usually have pleasant odours, bright colours a landing platform, nectar guides, (coloured lines running into the depths of the flower), as well as concealed nectaries. The basal portions of the orchid lip are usually formed into a tunnel with the column constituting its upper side. The bee enters the tunnel to get at the nectary, and as the bee backs out some of the stigmatic fluid may be rubbed on its back and carried with the bee to the next flower.

Flowers pollinated by bees open during the day and usually have pleasant odours, bright colours a landing platform, nectar guides, (coloured lines running into the depths of the flower), as well as concealed nectaries. Varieties of orchids.

Flowers pollinated by bees open during the day and usually have pleasant odours, bright colours a landing platform, nectar guides, (coloured lines running into the depths of the flower), as well as concealed nectaries.

Orchids in Agriculture

One tropical climbing orchid was used by the Aztecs to flavor their chocolate beverage (xocoatl or chocolate). Later Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés was to bring this flavor of this drink to Europe. The ingredients the Aztecs used were ground corn, cacao beans, honey and vanilla pods from the Vanilla planifolia a tropical climbing orchid. Vanilla is now commercially grown in Indonesia, the West Indies, Seychelles, and Puerto Rico. Madagascar, Mexico, French Polynesia, Réunion, and in Dominica. In the early days of the industry, little was known about how the plant was pollinated leading to very poor yields when plants were grown outside of Mexico. It was later discovered that the plant required a small Mexican bee called the Melipona bee for pollination. Interestingly, this species can also be pollinated by hummingbirds. Another vanilla species, the Tahiti vanilla, (Vanilla tahitensis) is native to Oceania.

Vanilla planifolia, orchid flower.  Varieties of orchids.

Vanilla planifolia, orchid flower.

Australian Native Orchids

With 6 new species of Drakea hammer orchids recently discovered in southern Western Australia, it is a little difficult to keep count of the exact number of orchids.

Australian Purple Spotted Sun Orchid Thelymitra ixioides. Varieties of orchids.

Australian Purple Spotted Sun Orchid Thelymitra ixioides.

Sun Orchids are found throughout Australia as well as Indonesia, New Guinea, New Caledonia and the Philippines. Of the approximately 130 species more than 110 occur in Australia. Sun Orchids belong to the genus Thelymitra, and family Orchidaceae. The name sun orchid comes from the tendency of the flowers to only open up when exposed to strong sun light. In fact, the flowers of some self pollinating species do not open at all. The flowers have earlike appendages and the hooded column which give the genus its name of Thelymitra meaning woman’s hood in ancient Greek. In New South Wales Thelymitra ixioides is one of the most common species of Thelymitra. It can be seen growing along roadsides in NSW and southern Queensland. Despite the worldwide success of orchids, many Australian species are listed as vunerable, threatened or endangered. It is estimated that 17% of Australia’s orchids are in this category. As with the endangered Ghost orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii) of the Florida everglades, preservation of habitats and pollinators world wide is vital for wild orchids. Pterostylis tenuissima the Swamp Greenhood or Dainty Swamp Orchid is listed as vunerable and it depends upon its habitat of swamp land being protected. McIvor Spider-orchid, also known as the Audas Spider-orchid Caladenia audasii has less than 8 plants remaining in the wild.

Garden maintenance. Care of your orchids. How to plant orchids

The key to looking after your orchid is to know its original habitat and create a similar growing environment. Whilst growing some orchids can be a challenge, knowing the orchids natural habitat and recreating similar levels of light, water, temperature and growing media will help. Epiphytic orchids will not grow in soil or even potting mix. These plants require a course growing compost containing bark or sphagnum moss. Only ever use specific orchid fertilisers in the correct quantities to help maintain the health of your orchid and protect the Orchid mycorrhizas fungi. When the individual flowers droop and turn brown, carefully remove them from the flower spike. When all of the flowers from the spike are gone, cut the spike off around 30mm from the base. Once established the maintenance needs of your orchids are fairly low. Take care not to over water or over fertilise.

Varieties of orchids. Paphiopedilum or slipper orchid with mottled blood red and yellow flowers. Grow Paphiopedilum in a warm shaded position avoiding any direct sunlight. Keep above 13°C in winter. Take care not to overwater.

Paphiopedilum or slipper orchid with mottled blood red and yellow flowers. Grow Paphiopedilum in a warm shaded position avoiding any direct sunlight. Keep above 13°C in winter. Take care not to overwater.

Bromeliads in vertical gardens.

As with the orchids, Bromelaids are either terrestrial (soil based) or epiphytic (tree based). These spectacular flowering plants number around 2600 species with nearly all of these originating in the tropics of the Americas.

Colourful epiphytic Bromeliads in a vertical garden growing in sphagnum moss.

Colourful epiphytic Bromeliads in a vertical garden growing in sphagnum moss.

Bromeliad flowers often have coloured bracts below a long spike bearing flowers with brightly contrasting sepals and petals. One species of terrestrial bromeliad is much loved by Australians and Queensland in particular. The sunshine coast of Queensland has even erected a shrine to it. The Ananas comosus or pineapple is native to tropical and subtropical America. Portuguese explorers are credited with the spread of the pineapple as an agricultural crop. It was so successful that by the start of the 1800s, it was being cultivated in most tropical areas of the world even on some remote islands of the South Pacific.

A Colourful Terrestrial Bromeliad with blood red and yellow flowers

A Colourful Terrestrial Bromeliad with blood red and yellow flowers


The arrangement of leaves on bromeliads including pineapples resemble that of succulents and particularly yuccas. The texture of the fruit also closely resembles pinecones giving the pineapple its name. Why would plants that are not closely related have such strong resemblance. The answer to this question comes from the field of mathematics.

Bromeliads, Pine Cones, sunflowers and other patterns in nature.

Around 1175 in Pisa Italy a boy named Leonardo was born. As his father was a customs officer, he travelled extensively around the Mediterranean and was well educated by Moorish teachers. This time in history, at the dawn of the renaissance, was when science and mathematics in particular was more advanced in the Arabic world. Leonardo of Pisa, or Fibonacci as he is better known, introduced calculation using the Hindu – Arabic numbers to the merchants of Europe thus making trade calculations much easier. Fibonacci developed his well-known sequence whilst theorizing over the maximum number of offspring a pair of rabbits could produce. As it turned out, the Fibonacci series had other application in nature that Fibonacci would not have known. It was not until the 19th century it was discovered that the Fibonacci series, where each number is the sum of the previous two, had applications in the study of botany.

Bromeliads like some other members of the natural world, follow the Fibonacci series.

Bromeliads like some other members of the natural world, follow the Fibonacci series.

So why would the plant world follow the mathematic sequence described by Fibonacci? Plants have evolved over millions of years of genetic mutation to where small advantages aid the survival of the species. For leaves this might mean capturing a little extra sunlight or rainfall. For seeds and insect hives, it means packing as much in as efficiently as possible. The result is the patterns and placements in a Fibonacci series or counter rotating spirals following the Fibonacci sequence.

Vertical Gardens

For your vertical garden epiphyte plants that grow naturally on tree branches are the ideal solution. Requiring no topsoil or potting mix, the garden can be very lightweight. This is a very important consideration for some fence structures. Most often a fence will be designed and constructed without an allowance for the extra weight of potting soils. The other advantage is the epiphytes ability to capture moisture from light rainfall. In the humidity of the Gold Coast the vertical garden might only require an occasional very light spray. For the structure of vertical gardens consider using wooden trellis or lattice, recycled timber, driftwood of even recycled pallets. Some other plants to consider would be succulents, Hoya carnosa or Hoya lanceolata and philodendrons. If your vertical garden is close to your kitchen it is a great place to plant a few herbs to cook with. Many palm trees with their fibrous trunks also make ideal places to start a small vertical garden. Do not attempt this on varieties of palm trees like the canary island palm as these may be vulnerable to fungal diseases or weevils.

The fibrous trunk of the Trachycarpus fortunei also know as the Chusen palm or Chinese windmill palm is an ideal place to start your vertical garden.

The fibrous trunk of the Trachycarpus fortunei also know as the Chusen palm or Chinese windmill palm is an ideal place to start your vertical garden.


A City Building Vertical Garden

A City Building Vertical Garden

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Contact us – Vertical garden installation service in Melbourne

For help with the design  and development or your landscaping ideas, contact one of our experienced Landscape Gardeners. We can help with small garden design all the way up to  Commercial Landscape design.  Our specialities include fast growing screening plants, plant health and horticulture, garden lighting  and outdoor pool landscaping ideas.

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More Reading about Orchids

Australian Native Orchids of the Yarra Ranges


Gardening Australia – Endangered orchids


Mycology Plant Interactions Mycorrhizas and Orchids


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