How to grow a wildlife garden (even on your balcony)

A person planting a seedling on a grassy river bank

Make your garden a haven for birds and bees by joining our new Gardens for Wildlife program.

Whether you have a big back yard, a community garden, a school vegie patch, a green rooftop, or pot plants on your balcony, everyone can help promote urban biodiversity.

The Gardens for Wildlife program is active in more than 25 municipalities across Victoria, with volunteer Wildlife Garden Guides inspiring members to conserve indigenous flora and fauna.

Westgate Biodiversity’s Bili Nursery, managed by David Sparks, will provide expert advice and inspiration, and sell native plants to the community as our pilot program rolls out this year.

‘If enough people across Melbourne turn their spaces into wildlife-friendly spaces then we will see a halt to the decline and start seeing more native bees, butterflies and birds all over the city,’ David said.

‘Even putting out water and native bee hotels on a balcony can potentially attract and provide invaluable resources to one of the many native bee species found in Melbourne.

‘I think that residents will be surprised about the diversity of wildlife and plants that are in the City of Melbourne and how easy it is, with a bit of guidance, to attract native wildlife to any corner of the city.’

Six tips for wildlife-friendly gardens

1. Many native bees have short tongues and prefer small native flowers like daisies so they can reach the nectar inside.

2. Seventy-five per cent of native bees dig their nests in the ground. So maintain bare patches of soil in sunny, well-drained places.

3. Native groundcover plants like Nodding Saltbush and Ruby Saltbush produce fruit that blue-tongue lizards love. If you’re lucky enough to have blue tongues in your yard, they’ll also snack on snails.

4. Plant banksias and grevilleas to attract large, bossy, nectar-eating birds like rainbow lorikeets and noisy miners.

5. Plant thick shrubs to attract smaller birds like eastern spinebills, so they can escape from predators and those aforementioned bossy birds.

6. Many small birds build their nests using loose materials like spider web, fur, fibre and grass collected from various places. Some species will also collect bits of plastic, so secure any materials in which they could become tangled.

Have you got a green thumb?
We are looking for people to help us grow our Gardens for Wildlife pilot. Come along to our first event to find out about the different ways you can be involved and sign up as a volunteer.

For more information, visit Gardens for Wildlife.

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