Your Garden

Why should I plant a native garden?

In Perth and the Southwest of WA we have some of the world’s most infertile, thin and weathered soils, and one of the harshest and most erratic climates. However, most of our gardens and garden practices are still based upon northern European models where the climate is cooler and wetter and the plants more delicate. As a result we have had to use a lot of water to maintain the exotic gardens and plants we have become accustomed to growing since the first European settlers arrived here.

Like our houses, the majority of Australian gardens work against the climate and natural ecosystems rather than with them. Reticulated lawns, non-native plants and invasive species require extensive maintenance, more fertilisers and excessive amounts of water to support them. In fact, the average West Australian household uses approximately half of their water on their garden. With climate change resulting in a reduction in the amount of rainfall over Western Australia, heavily water-reliant gardens need to become a thing of the past.

At the Sustainable Mandurah Home we have designed and planted a native garden that aims to create a habitat for local animals to help protect local plant and animal species and assist in preserving our valuable water. We have done this in conjunction with the Great Gardens program that has been designed to inspire, empower and inform community members about the vast array of design and planning skills, techniques, products and services that can be used to create a beautiful but water and nutrient-wise landscape.

How do I create a native garden?

  • Find out what the local plant and tree species are for your area (Download Greening Mandurah – A guide to using Western Australian and local plants in your garden (3.17MB)). These will help to attract native animals and maximise the water efficiency of your garden.
  • Plant a variety of species and try to create a number of different layers as you would see in natural areas.
  • Hydrozoning involves grouping plants with similar water requirements together, and helps to reduce water use in your garden. Most Waterwise Garden Centres label their plants as one, two or three drop. plants to make it easier to group them like this. To find your nearest centre, visit the Water Corporation’s website at
  • Aim to keep a majority of your garden as ‘one drop’ plants as these are most suitable for our weather conditions. If you wish to include plants that require more water (three drop plants), plant these closest to the house for maximum enjoyment.
  • Autumn is one of the best times to plants in Western Australia due to the cooler weather and impending rainfall. By planting in at the right times, you will give your new garden the best chance to thrive
  • The secret to a great garden is well-prepared soil; by including soil conditioners such as compost and wetting agents in your soil and mulching around the base of plants you will improve the moisture holding capacity of your soil and save buckets of water in the garden.
  • Keep your garden weed-free; weeds need water too!
  • Groundcovers, local grasses and mulch are important for providing food for lizards, beetles, worms which in turn provides food for larger animals.
  • Create habitats for animals building a frog pond, bird boxes, bird baths and creating sunny rocky areas for lizards.
  • Use mulch to prevent growth of weeds and excess evaporation. Look at demonstration native gardens for ideas such as the garden at the Sustainable Mandurah Home.

Why should I install a vegetable garden?

One of the easiest, most enjoyable and healthy ways of helping your local environment is to make your garden more productive. By creating a vegetable garden you will:

  • Reduce the amount of food you have to buy.
  • Reduce the amount of packaging you throw away.
  • Rest assured that your food is free of chemicals and pesticides.
  • Have a new hobby that gives you exercise.
  • Have fresher, tastier and healthy veggies and herbs.

You don’t need a very large area to start growing your own produce. In fact, a good planter box is all you need for growing your favourite herbs and a few choice veggies.

How do I improve the productivity of my vegetable garden?

  • Pick an area of the garden that gets at least four to five hours of sun a day.
  • Rotate your crop each season so that you don’t deplete the soil as quickly.
  • Take advantage of companion planting.
  • Don’t water too frequently or too quickly, a slow fine spray or a drip on each plant is best for veggie gardens, and is more water-efficient.
  • Set up a compost bin or worm farm.
  • Dig organic compost and mulch into the soil, this will provide vital nutrients without the need for chemical fertilisers and will reduce the mount of water needed.
  • Use non-toxic pesticides rather than ones based on synthetic chemicals.

If you are interested in planning and planting a native garden, download the For more information on gardens information sheet.