A garden is a wonderland for ourselves, our children and our pets.
It is also a vital link in the survival of many local and transient animal populations.
Birds and butterflies fly in at various times during the day, then fly out again on their journey to yet another garden or bushland.
Lizards and frogs tend to be territorial and stay with the boundaries of a few gardens.
For some gardeners it can be koalas, wallabies, bats, gliders, bandicoots and even echidnas, wombats or a cassowary that can wander through a garden in search for tucker.
When designing a garden, especially in new estates, it is essential to plan for the natural inhabitants – those that still exist and those that have been displaced.
The key to successful habitat landscaping is diversity…. A range of plant types, heights, seasons and structures.
Trees, shrubs, climbers and grasses should all be incorporated into a landscape to attract and feed native animals. Large birds will welcome tall trees and small honeyeaters will prefer the protection offered by dense plantings. Grasses not only provide ideal habitat for lizards but also are a source of food for birds and butterflies.
If a hedge is needed for screening out unwanted views, decide on suitable plant species that will also function as wildlife habitat or corridors to allow the animals to move safely from one area of the garden to another.
A lawn that is in need of mowing will actually be more friendly to birds and lizards compared to a manicured green couch or buffalo. The use of native grasses as ornamental plants, such as kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra) and barb wire grass (Cymbopogon refractus), has also become more popular with landscape designers.
Butterflies will require two different types of plant life. One as a host on which the larvae will feast on – yes this means the grubs eat the leaves (eg. Nerium, Dianella, Breynia, Melicope).
The other plant type will usually provide the adult with feed such as nectar (eg. Jasminum, Buddleia, Grevillea, Callistemon).
Stunning specimen trees that attract birds for nectar, seed or fruit include Schotia, Callistemon, Syzygium, Eucalyptus and Corymbia.
For screening and hedging effects look towards Casuarina, Melaleuca, Metrosideros and Banksia.
Simple guides to help you create a fauna friendly garden include:
* include dense prickly plants for small birds
* provide a water source…. and replenish the water daily
* keep cats and dogs restrained or provide a pet-free area in the garden
* provide rocks and crevices for lizards to travel safely around the garden
* provide a pond environment for frogs.
For additional information, try these websites
Article written by: Paul Plant, freelance writer for Courier Mail 'home' magazine