Feature Articles : Sustainable Outdoors

By: Sustainable Outdoors  09-Dec-2011
Keywords: Gardens, Mulch, Erosion Matting

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Sustainable Outdoors has recently been working for the City of Swan to revegetate several banks along the Swan River in Viveash. The importance of this work was to protect the bank from eroding away due to the increased boat traffic on the river. The bank was reshaped using extra soil to decrease its gradient and a layer of erosion matting and coir logs to prevent the sand from washing away. After the restructuring had been done it was heavily planted with wetland sedges.

On the upper land areas Melaleucas were planted with our specially design planting auger. As seen in the pictures below water collects around the base of each plant. The compaction down below is broken to approximately 30cm and any weeds or weed seeds on the surface get scrapped away.

Our planting machine can increase planting speed reducing labour costs, clear weeds with no chemicals, break compaction and create water holding wells around each plant. It is also very practical to use this in areas that have been mulched, sandy soils and even clay.

Sustainable Outdoors proudly supports Kulcha by installing a balcony garden. Kulcha is an arts organisation specialising in fostering, developing and promoting world cultures through multicultural arts in Western Australia. The idea was to create a garden that promoted the multicultural connections integral to Kulcha through using both native Australian and exotic plants.

Sustainable Outdoors is pleased to have had the opportunity to design Stocktech’s Shades of Green display for this years Garden Week.

The aim of this display was to demonstrate how Stocktech fertilisers can be used safely on our landscapes without adversely effecting our waterways. Shades of Green is the only product currently available that has gained the Fertilise Wise endorsement.

The fantastic artwork on display really added to the overall design. The three piece wall feature by Fifth Room and sculptures by Daniel Iley proved very popular.

Our moving wheelbarrow gardens were out in force again – and no, we were not having a race, but it was great way to chat to people. It was encouraging to find a lot of interest native W.A plants and waterwise verge gardens. The plants on display showed just a few of the great natives available many of which were suitable for verges.

The Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta has been another huge success this year attracting many thousand people to this truly amazing community organised event. The organisers Shani Graham and Tim Darby from The Painted Fish have brought together the residents of Hulbert street, sustainably focussed businesses, demonstrations and fun activities with a spice of local food and music.

The Fiesta is a celebration of sustainable living and community, the street boasts over 60% of its residents growing organic food at home and 25% produce their own energy from solar power. The Painted Fish was open as part of the Australian Open Garden Scheme along with many of the other homes in the street to show off their art studios and sustainable life styles.

Sustainable Outdoors promoted the idea of verge gardens as an alternative to grass as it saves water and beautifies the street. Native plants make the prefect aesthetically appealing alternative with a huge range of ground covers, grasses and small shrubs.

Mulching is one of the most important aspects of gardening in Western Australia, without it your wasting your time.

Just imagine how hard it would be to live in baking hot desiccated sand, just like running over the hot sand to the beach without shoes. The surface temperature can be quite extreme, which is just sucking the moisture and life out of your garden.

Mulch serves two purposes, the first to provide an insulating layer over the soil and secondly, to feed the soil. The top 50% of the mulch provides the insulation and the lower will become a humid area that starts to break down. This humid area is what keeps the soil happy and in turn the plants happy.

Mulch should be applied as thick as possible or at least 10cm thick. The best mulch is ordinary street tree prunings (and it’s free), the key to look out for is Rough, Course and Irregular shaped particles (black mulch is a waste of time, usually shreaded in shape). Mulch isn’t something that should hold water per se, the water should be able to pass through it down to the soil. Black mulch tends to wick moisture from the soil, causing it to be evaporated.

Free mulch can be acquired from Mulchnet.com. This is a service that connects local tree contractors to people who want the waste or simply GREAT MULCH! Have fun gardening.

This verge garden was created using drought tolerant native Western Australian plants and there is no need for any irrigation system.

Looking through the photos you’ll see the ground being prepared by rotary hoeing soil amendments including Compost, Bentonite clay and Zeolite into the existing sand. The benefits of amending sandy soils with these ingredients helps to kick start the biological life into action with compost, increase the water holding capacity with Bentonite and lock in and store soluble nutrients into the root zone with the Zeolite.

A thick layer of mulch has been added to protect the soil from the hot Summer sun.

And finally planted with ground covers, small shrubs and strappy leaf grasses.

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The true Australian bush!

Planting a Grass tree is fun, inspiring and dead easy, but there are a few thing you should know about Grass trees before you start swinging the banjo.


The best time to transplant one is undoubtably during Winter, but can be done either side with good results. In Winter the soil is slightly damp and tends to hold around the roots better when dug up, this keeps the vital hair like connect between the soil microbes in tack, which will save the tree much unneeded stress.


Selecting the new location – Grass trees are an understory species and will cope with either full sun or part shade, but not complete shade. The soil should be fairly well draining, however Grass trees are found in the Darling scarp area which tends to have a high clay content. The best bet is to select a tree from a similar soil type.


This is where the fun starts – Choose a tree and start swinging. Dig a hole about 1m across and depending on root ball about 0.5m deep.


Now your ready for the tree. Before lowering it into the hole, you should double check the size of the hole against the root ball, a quick and easy method to doing this is to use the handle of the shovel to give you a comparative measurement. It’s easy if you have access to a crane to assist you, however this can be done just as easy without with some careful planning. If you collect the tree on a car trailer this can be reversed straight to the hole and slid off the back and simply stood up. This method works quite well, but remember you only get one shot at it if you have a big tree, so check your measurement.


Water in well. Get the hose and start watering. Air pockets trapped beneath the surface particularly in-between the roots it’s bad news. Rocking and shaking can help to release these.


Water for the next several months every day, then for the next year every other day. Adding Seasol ocasionally will help all newly transplanted plants and provide the soil with food, Healthy soil, healthy plants.


Keywords: Erosion Matting, Gardens, Mulch, Planting Machine

Other products and services from Sustainable Outdoors


Services : Sustainable Outdoors

Sustainable Outdoors employs a dedicated team of professionals who take pride in delivering quality environmental results that reflect the needs of our clients. We have invested a significant amount time into developing techniques and machinery to provide a cost effective solution for any revegetation project. Our services have been utilised on commercial developments, landfill sites, rural properties and community revegetation projects.


News : Sustainable Outdoors

Being waterwise in the garden isn’t a challenge, we recommend the system includes a rain or soil moisture sensor, a programmable controller that can meet watering rosters and drip irrigation for the gardens and directional matched precipitation sprinklers for lawn areas.


Q & A : Sustainable Outdoors

We’ll WA native plants have evolved to live in one of the harshest environments in the world, in fact he UN world food organisation actually declared Western Australia to have the worlds worst agricultural soils, yet somehow native plants thrive on little nutrients and not too much water.


Our Projects : Sustainable Outdoors

It is aimed at being a waterwise, eco-friendly development that promotes the use of local endemic plants as an alternative to grass, waterwise drip irrigation systems across the board and energy and water efficient building designs. Over the last 2 year Sustainable Outdoors has planted close to 14,000 plants on some very cleverly constructed golf course like mounds that will soon become park lands for local residents who buy land in the area.