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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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© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil quality commercial landscaping Melbourne

 

 

 

 References and further reading

REFERENCE LIST

Acreman, M. and Holden, J. (2013). How Wetlands Affect Floods. Wetlands, [online] 33(5), pp.773–786. Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13157-013-0473-2 [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

(2018a). Plants in wetlands. [online] NSW Environment, Energy and Science. Available at: https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/water/wetlands/plants-and-animals-in-wetlands/plants [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

(2018c). Why wetlands are important. [online] NSW Environment, Energy and Science. Available at: https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/water/wetlands/why-wetlands-are-important [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

(2019). Plants and animals in wetlands. [online] NSW Environment, Energy and Science. Available at: https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/water/wetlands/plants-and-animals-in-wetlands [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

(2020). Mammals in wetlands. [online] NSW Environment, Energy and Science. Available at: https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/water/wetlands/plants-and-animals-in-wetlands/mammals [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. (2016a). Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. [online] Available at: https://www.environment.gov.au/water/wetlands/publications/factsheet-wetlands-water-quality#:~:text=One%20of%20the%20most%20important,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: https://www.environment.gov.au/water/wetlands/publications/factsheet-wetlands-water-changes [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. (2020). Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. [online] Available at: https://www.environment.gov.au/water/wetlands/about [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

Healthy wetlands, healthy fi sh populations What are wetlands? (n.d.). [online] Available at: https://www.mdba.gov.au/sites/default/files/archived/mdbc-NFS-reports/2200_factsheet_Fish_and_wetlands.pdf [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

Melbournewater.com.au. (2017). Animals of the wetland | Melbourne Water. [online] Available at: https://www.melbournewater.com.au/media/1401 [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

Sciencedirect.com. (2015). Groundwater Recharge – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. [online] Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/groundwater-recharge [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

Shore Erosion Control Guidelines Marsh Creation Maryland Department of the Environment Wetlands and Waterways Program. (2006). [online] Available at: http://ccrm.vims.edu/livingshorelines/documents/Promotional/shore_erosion_bosch.pdf [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

Urban Bushland Council WA. (2018). Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary. [online] Available at: https://www.bushlandperth.org.au/treasures/eric-singleton-bird-sanctuary/ [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

US EPA,ORD (2017). Wetlands | US EPA. [online] US EPA. Available at: https://www.epa.gov/report-environment/wetlands [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

US EPA,OW (2015). Why are Wetlands Important? | US EPA. [online] US EPA. Available at: https://www.epa.gov/wetlands/why-are-wetlands-important [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

Vermont.gov. (2020). Wetland Functions and Values: Surface and Ground Water Protection | Department of Environmental Conservation. [online] Available at: https://dec.vermont.gov/watershed/wetlands/functions/water-quality [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

World Wetlands Day – celebrating wetland biodiversity (2010). World Wetlands Day – celebrating wetland biodiversity. [online] IUCN. Available at: https://www.iucn.org/content/world-wetlands-day-celebrating-wetland-biodiversity [Accessed 1 Sep. 2020].

Water Sensitive Urban Design. City of Boroondara

 

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Euroclay tennis court Balwyn Community Centre

Tennis Court Construction Balwyn Community Centre

Tennis court construction requires attention to detail and a very solid foundation.  First of all, the area must be excavated to a good depth. Any organic material under the tennis court will eventually rot away leaving a void under the tennis court. This could lead to an eventual low point and spoil the playing surface. After clearing the organic matter, the sub-grade below the tennis court is flattened. Ideally the court should be designed with a North – south orientation, but this is not always possible in residential home tennis courts.

Sport facilities construction and repair Balwyn

Tennis court construction Balwyn

The geotextile layer for your tennis court

A geotextile layer is laid over the sub-grade to block any root growth from nearby trees and ensure the subgrade does not affect drainage of the road base by oozing up and filling the voids.

 

Tennis Court Solid Road Base Foundation

The road base material spread evenly over the area followed by even more flattening. It is essential that a robust foundation is created to maintain the stability of the playing surface. The thick layer of road base should be at lease 150mm after it has been flattened and compressed to ensure a stable foundation for the tennis court.

Tennis Court Construction Layers

Typical Tennis Court Construction Layers

 

Tennis Court Asphalting

Ideally, two different layers of Asphalt should be used in the tennis court base with two different specifications. The lower layer of asphalt is a thicker, courser asphalt with the upper layer much finer. The fine upper layer needs to be as flat as possible. The court is constructed to shed water in two planes and it is essential that puddles do not form on the surface.

 

Tennis Court Cushioning layer

The optional cushioning layer is an ideal choice for residential and club tennis courts. The cushioning layer reduces impact on a tennis player’s feet, ankles and knees. By providing a small amount of flexibility, it also makes the upper playing surface more durable. The playing surface is much less likely to crack and peel if it is bonded to a surface with a little bit of “give”. The Australian open surface uses Plexicushion.

 

The Playing Surface

Modern material technology has given the customer a wide range of choices for the playing surface itself. Many people will remember the when the Australian Open was played at Kooyong on grass surfaces. Grass courts are still common to tennis tournaments in Great Britain and most notably Wimbledon. In the countries in continental Europe, clay courts are often use a clay system known as “en tout cas” meaning “in any case”. Although this is a French phrase, the company, En tout cas,is British. They came up with a clever solution to the problems caused by water on clay tennis surfaces. The solution is to use crushed brick which greatly improves drainage.  Most clay courts today use crushed brick as the main constituent of the surface.

Table Tennis Table with bespoke surface treatment.

Landscaping the public space around the tennis court.

 

Balwyn Community Centre Tennis Court

Tennis courts in public spaces like the Balwyn Community Centre need to be low maintenance and durable. The landscape architects, ACLA, wisely chose Euroclay for the playing surface. This is a surface that provides all of the features of a clay tennis surface with very low maintenance. It even looks and plays like en tout cas, but notes not require rolling or watering. Even better, tennis can still be played in wet conditions. Ideal for the diehard tennis enthusiast home owner.

 

Tennis Court Repair

The landscaping project at Balwyn Community Centre also involved making repairs to an adjoining court. A large tree near the tennis court had caused damage dur to the tree root growing into the court. It was necessary to dig a trench between the tree and the court to install a root barrier to prevent further damage. All of the roots under the court had to be removed as organic material rotting away under a court can lead to further damage in the future.

Outdoor Sports facilities Balwyn Community Centre

Court Construction Balwyn Community Centre

 

What is Euroclay?

Euroclay is a UV stabilised polyethylene carpet with a sand infill. Polyethylene is a very tough material that is also very stain resistant. It is also relatively inexpensive, so using this type of construction will save money in both construction and maintenance.

 

Other types of construction

There are of course, other types of court construction techniques. The lower layers can be concrete or can be permeable materials with drainage systems. The goal in all of these is to provide a playing surface that is durable, even, well drained, and provides a fair game to all players.

 

Landscaping Tennis Courts

The courts need to be designed and constructed with a slight fall to shed water. It is essential that the water can drain to the outside of the court and into the surrounding area. It is important that any gardens near the courts are designed and constructed so that material from the gardens cannot wash onto the court playing surface.

Tennis Court Landscaping

Tennis Court Landscaping at Balwyn Community Centre.

Consideration should also be given player safety with any garden edging or branches near the court. Tennis players often need to go into the nearby gardens to retrieve tennis balls, so this should also be considered? For some privacy around a residential tennis court some fast growing climbing plants would be a good option.

 

Contact Red’s Landscaping for an integrated Tennis Court and Landscaping package.

 

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Tennis court repair Balwyn

Balwyn Landscaping – Commercial Project

Balwyn is an inner eastern suburb of Melbourne and lies in the northern part of the city of Boroondara. It was in this area that grazier John Gardiner settled near the point where Gardiners creek meets the Yarra River. The commercial editor of the Argus, Andrew Murray built house named Balwyn which gives the area its name.

 

How far is Balwyn from the Melbourne CBD?

Balwyn is only 10 kilometres from the Melbourne CBD and in an easterly direction. It was once serviced by the outer loop railway station at Deepdene.

 

Balwyn Community Centre

The Balwyn Community Centre at 412 Whitehorse Road Surrey Hills was upgraded to ensure it would continue to support the needs of the local Balwyn Community. As well as the upgrades to the buildings, there were landscaping works for the parkland, natural wetlands,  exposed aggregate concrete pathways and tennis courts. For this project we were able to showcase all of our commercial landscaping services.

 

Landscaping Balwyn Community Centre. The Scope of works.

 

The hard landscaping for the Community Centre

The scope of work for this project included the following hard landscaping construction;

  • Plain, coloured and exposed aggregate concrete,
  • In-situ or poured in place concrete garden retaining walls,
  • Exposed aggregate concrete driveway crossovers,
  • Concrete upstands, edges, ramps stairs and landings.

 

The soft landscaping for Balwyn Community Centre

The scope of work for this project included the following soft landscaping installation;

 

  • The planting of advanced indigenous trees
  • The application of appropriate fertilizers
  • Lawn areas
  • The planting of native grasses and ornamental plants
  • Aggregate and Gravel
  • Imported top soil to Australian Standards
  • A sophisticated Irrigation System
  • Areas of mass planting
  • Mulched garden beds
  • Planting of Australian Native Shrubs
  • Garden edging.

Existing trees at the Balwyn Community Centre

The existing tress on the site included the following;

  • Pin Oak (Quercus palustris),
  • River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) ,
  • Narrow leaved black Peppermint (Eucalyptus nicholii),
  • Lemon scented gum (Corymbia citriodora),
  • Prickly leaved Paperbark ( Melaleuca styphelioides)
  • Forest Oak (Allocasuarina torulosa),
  • Drooping She-oak (Allocasuarina verticilata)
  • Smooth Barked Apple ( Angophora Costata)

Nearly all of these existing trees were kept in the new landscape design.

 

Native Urban Wetlands

Later in the project rehabilitation of native wetlands was added including a child proof fence.

 

Tennis Court Repairs and reconstruction

Part of the landscaping included repairs to a tennis court and the construction of another tennis court. A good sport surface must be stable, therefore the new tennis court was constructed with asphalt over 300 mm of roadbase.

Synthetic clay Tennis Court surface

 

A low maintenance synthetic clay tennis court surface was required to laid over the asphalt. Therefore, the surface chosen was Grassports Policlay. In addition to being low maintenance, Grassports Policlay is a fast draining low maintenance water free tennis surface resulting in the ideal surface for public tennis courts.

A high quality sporting surface was required, therefore the asphalt layers were flattened rigorously in preparation. The very thick roadbase foundation will also help to maintain the stability of the playing surface. Root barriers we also installed to prevent invasive tree roots causing any unevenness to the playing surface.

 

Soft play surfaces

The soft play coloured surfaces in the landscape was required, so an EPDM wetpour rubber was chosen. In addition to its great colour range, EPDM is a synthetic rubber widely used in the automotive industry. Similarly, its mechanical properties make it ideal for this application. For instance, it has great UV stability, abrasion resistance, ozone resistance and it is water proof. So, the material used was Playkote which was installed as a rubber wet pour over SBR underlay. In addition to the added height, the SBR underlay makes the play surface a little softer. The colourful kids scooter track in Teal, Lime Green and Light Blue Laykold was constructed by Grand Slam Surfaces.

 

 

Balwyn Outdoor Gym Equipment

 

Balwyn Landscaping. Outdoor Gym Equipment ant Balwyn Community Centre

Balwyn Landscaping. Outdoor Gym Equipment ant Balwyn Community Centre

 

Environmentally Friendly Garden Furniture

Garden furniture including picnic tables, benches and seats were installed to add to the public amenity. In addition to the the amenity and aesthetic provided, recycled materials were also used. To this end, the material used was Enviroslat.  Enviroslat is an environmentally friendly low maintenance material produced from HDPE waste mixed with recycled cellulose. The recycled cellulose hardwood waste and rice husks.

 

Outdoor Furniture on Exposed aggregate concrete. Commercial Landscaping at Balwyn Community Centre

Outdoor Furniture on Exposed aggregate concrete. ACLA Consultants landscape architects.

 

 

Table Tennis Table

Outdoor Table Tennis Table with bespoke surface treatment. Commercial Landscaping Balwyn Community Centre.

Outdoor Table Tennis Table with bespoke surface treatment.

 

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The finished Balwyn Commercial landscaping Project

 

About the Balwyn Community Centre  Commercial Landscaping Project

 

Landscape Architects: ACLA Consultants landscape architects.

 

Building Construction: CICG

 

Customer: City of Boroondara

 

Hume Global Learning Centre – Sunbury

 

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© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil – Quality landscaping Melbourne

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