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Australian Native Garden Design (Tips & Inspiration)

When you’re first designing your Australian native garden, there are a few things that you need to consider before you start.

Creating an Australian native garden can be fun and exciting. It’s also the perfect way to create a low-maintenance garden that will attract many birds to your yard.

There are around 24,000 native species to select from including trees, shrubs, groundcovers, and flowers.

What to consider when designing a native Australian garden

Australian native garden | Garden Design

When you’re first designing your Australian native garden, there are a few things that you need to consider before you start.

These include:

The size of your garden

This will determine how many plants you can comfortably fit in the space.

Your climate

There are native plants available for every part of the country but some are better for cooler southern climates while others prefer the more sub-tropical and tropical regions of the north.

If you live in a more arid region, you’ll want to consider drought-tolerant plants while southern gardeners need to select plants that can handle a little frost every now and then.

Your soil type

As most Australian natives prefer slightly acid soil, you may need to make some amendments to your soil in order to accommodate this.

Shade or sun

If you already have a few tall trees, your garden may be shaded for part of the day.

Therefore, you need to select plants that can handle the shade.

Alternatively, your garden space may be in full sun and you might want to plant a couple of taller native trees to create some shade.

Formal or free-flowing

Most native gardens are fairly free-flowing but you can create a more formal garden by using natives for hedging or for creating a less formal border around your other plants.

Tips for a low-maintenance Australian native front yard

Banksia integrifolia var. integrifolia | Garden Design
Banksia integrifolia (Coast Banksia) I PDH I Wikimedia I CC BY-SA 3.0

In general, most Australian native plants are fairly low-maintenance.

All they require is a little annual low-phosphorus fertiliser and a light prune to keep them in shape.

Here are some tips to keep your front yard low maintenance:

  • Choose plants suited to your climate.
  • Edge your garden borders with low-maintenance native grasses.
  • Plant groupings of similar species that like the same conditions.
  • Place a thick layer of wood mulch around your native plants to suppress the weeds and keep some of the moisture in.
  • Tip prune your plants regularly to encourage bushier growth.

Did you know?

Many native Australian plants are adapted to low-nutrient soils, especially low in phosphorus.

Over-fertilising, particularly with high phosphorus fertilisers, can harm these plants. It’s best to use a slow-release, low-phosphorus fertiliser, specifically formulated for native plants.

We recommend this native fertiliser from Amgrow, designed to promote healthy root growth, lush foliage, and increased flowering, without overwhelming native species.

Tips for creating a colourful Australian native garden

Grevillea Peaches and Cream | Garden Design
Grevillea ‘Peaches and Cream’ I Cas Liber I Wikimedia

Many Australian natives have the most stunning and colourful flowers.

So, if you love lots of colour in your garden, choose plants with a variety of different coloured flowers that bloom at different times of the year.

Here are some more tips:

Choose long-flowering shrubs such as grevilleas, Callistemon, banksias, and correas to frame your garden.

Underplant these with colourful flowering plants and groundcovers such as everlasting daisies, billy buttons, scaevolas, and kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos).

Consider plants that have different coloured foliage to add to the display. 

Native garden ideas

Use the below pictures for some inspiration for creating your own beautiful native garden.

FAQ

What is the best soil for native plants?

Australian native plants prefer well-drained soil with some added organic matter. The ideal soil pH is slightly acid around 5 to 5.5. The soil also needs to contain a good supply of iron, as natives need this mineral to achieve good growth.

How do you prepare soil for Australian natives?

To prepare your soil for natives, just dig it over to a depth of around 30 cm. If you have heavy clay soil, add some gypsum to help break up the clay particles and increase the drainage. For sandy soils, it’s a good idea to add some compost to help retain a little moisture. 

What is the best mulch for Australian natives?

One of the best mulches you can use in your native garden is woodchips that are made from Australian native trees such as eucalypts and acacias. This type of mulch not only looks great but it will be low in phosphorus too.

How do you look after native plants?

Native plants are generally low-maintenance but they do respond to regular pruning. This should be done after flowering by cutting off the flower heads. General tip pruning is also recommended because it encourages bushier growth. In fact, it’s better to tip prune on a regular basis rather than to give your natives a hard prune in one go.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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