Attracting Native Wildlife to your Garden

  • You can assist local native wildlife by creating habitats in your garden.
  • Begin by undertaking research – to find out which animals you can assist, go to the nearest local area containing native vegetation at either early morning or late afternoon, when animals are most active.  Observation will provide you with an indication of which animals you can create habitat for.  Remember to look at the tree tops and the ground.
  • In addition, contact your local wildlife authority to provide you with a list of species living in local parks.
  • Native animals require three levels of native vegetation:
    • Tall trees such as eucalypts are used by possums, kookaburras, magpies, fruit bats, cockatoos and lorikeets.
    • The middle layer of dense shrubs and smaller trees such as banksias, tea-trees, hakeas and she-oaks are used by possums, robins, finches, wrens and honey-eaters.
    •  The bottom layer consisting of grasses, vines, groundcover and dwarf trees and shrubs are used by lizards, skinks, native rodents, finches, wrens and echidnas.
        • Wetland plants and plants for marshy areas are also important in low-lying areas, such as Braeside, which support seasonal wetlands and floodplains.
        • Depending on where you live, there will also be other environments to consider, for example, the dune and coastal environment, the estuarine environment, or heath or swamp scrub, for instance.

  • To attract native animals, you will also have to consider the basic needs of the animal – for example, a blue tongued lizard requires areas with ground cover, insects, snails and native fruits/flowers for food, and a hollow log or rock pile for shelter.  Complete further research via books or the internet.
  • Through good planning, a garden for wildlife can be integrated into an existing garden of exotic trees.  Remove pest species such as fennel, morning glory and blackberry.  Your local council will have lists of pest plants that you can check.
  • Analyse your site and then design your garden accordingly, taking into account your needs.  This may include solar access to outside living areas (patios/porches), personal privacy, and home maintenance and safety (ie. don’t plant a river red gum next to your house).
  • Consider the types of native plants you will require, such as shelter and nesting trees for birds, the particular needs of the plants (soil, light conditions, frost hardiness etc.), size when grown, lifespan, etcetera.  Consider the layering of plants (upper, middle and bottom layers).  You will probably need to add mulch, hollow logs and rocks to the garden.
  • Native plants can be purchased from a local conservation nursery, or by propagating your own plants.  Some commercial nurseries may also have stock, but these are generally more expensive and may not be indigenous to your area.
  • See the MBCL index page for further information on appropriate trees and shrubs for birds for the Mordialloc area.
  • Water can be supplied in a bird bath or garden pond.  The birdbath should be at least 1 metre from the ground and next to a cat proof shelter tree.  An inexpensive bird bath can be constructed using a garbage can lid and a terracotta pipe, with the lid weighed down by a brick inside the pipe, underneath the lid and fastened to the lid’s handle.
  • Do not feed wild animals, as it will disrupt their natural behaviour.
  • If you have a cat or dog, he/she will need a bell added to their collar and be confined indoors at night.  Trees can be cat-proofed by nailing tin around the trunk.  If you have a terrier or active dog, focus on providing shelter for birds in trees.  If your dog is older, sedentary or an indoors dog like a pug or pekingese, you will have more options for encouraging native wildlife to your yard.
  • You can provide natural nesting material in your garden for birds – for example, soft down from banksias, bark from coastal teatree, native grasses such as Danthonia, spiders webs, and wet mud.
  • Properly constructed and placed nesting boxes can also be added to cat proof trees and shrubs.  Before doing this, read a specialist book on the subject.  These boxes can sometimes by infested by bees or wasps, so keep an eye out for occupants.
  • Ground dwelling animals also need shelter in the form of ferns, dense low shrubs and clumps of native grasses.  Habitats may include hollow logs on the ground in sheltered areas and broken clay pipes under bushes.  Rock piles are ideal for lizards.
  • Consider developing a frog pond – this should be placed away from the house as frogs can be noisy at night – see the MBCL index page for more information.

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