Redesigning Our Front Yard

I’m what you would call an experimental Gardner – I plant something, somewhere (anywhere), and see how it grows. As a result I make plenty of mistakes by putting plants in the wrong places, and I end up pulling them out later down the track. The only positive out of what I do is that I’m good at growing plants and helping them flourish.

But I totally suck at garden design.

Take me for a walk in a local park and I can name almost all of the native plants I see. I can also tell you if they are indigenous to the Victorian Western Basalt Plains. But ask me for advice on how I would put them together to make an attractive native garden… nope, I’m as clueless as they come!

Habitat Heroes Initiative

My local council in the Wyndham area have a really great initiative, called ‘Habitat Heroes‘. The project runs twice a year and aims at helping residents in the council area to establish a native habitat in their garden that provides shelter and food for the native wildlife that pass through. Part of the initiative is a complimentary landscape design for a small section of your garden.

We’ve been lucky enough to be included with this round of the initiative, and it’s been really fun to be involved in it! I kinda wished I had done it sooner though (and I want to see if I can be involved in it again!).

A couple of weeks ago, the amazing Besty-Sue from Dirtscape Dreaming came to visit and drew up a landscape design for our front yard. And I absolutely love it!

The requirements we had for our front yard design were:

  • Protection and privacy from the busy street.
  • Habitat to attract native birds and reptiles (except snakes).
  • Habitat that will entice the wildlife to venture into the backyard and make it their home.
  • A windbreak to prevent litter from coming into our yard.
  • A relaxing garden for me to look out on from my office window.

The design Betsy-Sue drew up encompasses all those things.

Our Front Yard Design

The main feature of the design is a Wedge-leaf Hopbush hedge that curves it’s way across the front yard to provide privacy from the street and as a windbreak. Along the driveway a Silver Banksia shrub, Poa grasses and Nodding Saltbush ground-cover will offer food for insects and birds. Behind the Hopbush hedge will be an Acacia Paradoxa shrub to provide shelter for smaller birds, some Rushes, Red-leg grasses and Eremophila bushes Desert Cassia to give the birds fruit and seeds to eat, trailing ground-covers for attracting insects and finally, some Cushion Bushes to add decorative foliage and break up the green. We will also add a bird bath beside the acacia to give the birds something to drink from and have a bath in.

Beside the fence will be two Native Violet trees. The tree has scented flowers and a prickly habitat for attracting smaller birds, and also to prevent rubbish from the neighbors constantly overflowing bin from coming into our yard (Aherm!). From the information I can find, the Native Violet tree is able to be pruned to look like a privet hedge, so it’s shape can flow on from the Hopbush hedge nicely.

Finally, at the front of the yard, we will be keeping the existing prostrate Eremophila ground cover, but add to it some yellow wildflowers in the form of Billy Buttons, Clustered Everlastings and Lemon Beauty Heads.

It sounds like a lot of work, but I’m pretty sure my experience with being able to help plants grow will be a positive skill in establishing and nurturing the garden.

Another great bonus of the Habitat Heroes initiative is we will be given 30 stocktube plants for free, so getting part of the design established will cost me nothing at all! However my design has more than 30 plants, so I will forking out just a little bit of money for the remaining plants.

Cleaning Up and Getting Ready

Before we get the plants and put them in the ground, the front yard needs a little bit of preparation.

Aside from the obvious weeds that need a bit of treatment, there is a little bit of garden removal that needs to happen.

We spent last weekend getting rid of the Native Broom tree that was in the back corner of the yard. While it is beautiful when it’s flowering, it was coming to the end of it’s life and was maybe a bit too big for the area I had planted it in. But on the plus side, we have trimmed down and are keeping the thicker wood from the tree. We will use them to provide shelter and sunbathing areas for any lizards that decide to make our yard home.

I’ve left a small gallery of what our yard looks like now so that you can see the progress along the way. If you like the design of the yard, you are welcome to use it for your own design or use aspects of it to create a little native corner in your own garden.