Urban forests bloom across the city

30 September 2021

With spring in full bloom, our Urban Forest Fund projects are transforming grey spaces to green with leafy laneways, curated courtyards and rooftop urban farms.

The Urban Forest Fund provides matched financial support to new private greening projects in the city, not just for residents, but in many cases for all Melburnians keen for a stroll in publicly-accessible green spaces. 

Take the time to explore these successful greening projects blossoming right across the city.

Melbourne Skyfarm, Docklands

From a rooftop car park to an urban farm oasis, the City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest Fund is helping support greening projects in the heart of the city.

Melbourne Skyfarm is set to become a sustainable city oasis in the Seafarer’s precinct overlooking the Yarra River to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. While not open to the public until early next year, Melbourne Skyfarm has marked the completion of the first stage of works including the urban greening and urban farming component.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the City of Melbourne committed $300,000 in matched funding through the Urban Forest Fund to support the delivery of the urban farm.

‘We are incredibly excited that Skyfarm has finally come together to create a green oasis in the heart of our city. We’re extremely proud of what has been delivered,’ the Lord Mayor said.

‘It has never been more important for us to invest in sustainable greening projects which engage our community, show innovative thinking and showcase how we can all work together to create an environmentally friendly and greener future for our city.’

When fully complete, Melbourne Skyfarm will be open to the public to tour the working farm, visit the rooftop orchard and herb gardens, or purchase plants from the nursery. There are also plans for a sustainable cafe and an environmental education area.

Haines Street Apartments, North Melbourne

In Haines Street, North Melbourne plants and garden beds are now well established, softening the hard edges of an apartment complex car park.

‘They’re doing well and we will do a lot more planting after winter,’ said Ying-Lan Dann, a resident and one of the keen gardeners behind the project.

The City of Melbourne contributed $66,000 to the project which has transformed the car park area of a medium-density housing complex, which is publicly-accessible, into a safe, active communal space for both residents and the public to enjoy.

‘The neighbours love it and one of the key criteria was that if we got the greenery we’d get people downstairs more and we’re finding that’s happening. Particularly during COVID while we’ve been in lockdown,’ Ying-Lan said.

‘We are planning working bees so everyone can get involved in gardening and getting the vegies in for spring.’

Now residents look out onto fruiting trees and herb beds, native flowering ground covers and vertical gardens complemented by rainwater tanks, compost bins and seating areas for relaxation.

The green areas slow traffic and welcome pedestrians in an area that’s walking distance to North Melbourne Primary School, Gardiner Reserve and Lady Huntingfield Children’s Centre.

The major improvements are welcomed by Ying-Lan and the other Haines Street Apartments residents.

‘It’s an asphalt carpark fundamentally, so all these little dark nooks have now been activated. We’ve got bicycle parking, compost, garden beds where there was nothing before, just broken asphalt, so this project shows the potential for making these places much greener,’ Ying-Lan said.

Tribeca Apartments, East Melbourne

At Tribeca Apartments, building manager Garrad Flint said ‘we’ve had nothing but great feedback from our residents’ about the new greening project.

The City of Melbourne contributed $100,000 towards the project which has seen lush mature trees, including lemon myrtle and small-leafed fig, now line a narrow paved laneway, and the plaza area adorned with curving garden beds planted with a range of subtropical plants. Succulents and ground covers thrive.

‘It’s a publicly accessible plaza with cafes, restaurants and a supermarket, as well as a crossing point between Victoria Parade’s greenery and Albert Street’s parks,’ Garrad said.

‘We also get a lot of foot traffic from people visiting the nearby hospitals or staying in the local short-stay apartments.’

Once lockdown restrictions lift, social life will be encouraged by the garden beds nestling next to the dining areas.

‘Before lockdown the plaza cafes, restaurants and bars were open to a nice but dated area,’ Garrad said.

‘Now customers, visitors and residents get to walk out into and enjoy a lush green area. It’s a real upgrade to their living area.’

The cool green oasis adds to the character of the area, with a historical red brick and bluestone brewery lending atmosphere to this pleasant precinct.

Printmakers Lane, Southbank

The hot, dry Mediterranean climate was the inspiration for cooling vines in a laneway on the University of Melbourne’s Southbank campus.

‘Historically it is quite a harsh laneway,’ project manager Sebastian Di Girolamo said.

‘It has metal cladding so we did some testing and over summer it’s a hot area. The asphalt paving had a lot of services running through it and was cut up like a dog’s breakfast with an uneven surface.

‘So we came up with the idea of a design from Italy, Greece and Spain, hotter climates, where they use vines to create shade and make laneways cooler.

‘It’s not a fruiting vine, it’s more ornamental. The contractors ran a cable up the wall from the plant to create a structure for the canopy to grow on.

‘The vines will cross over to the other buildings overhead. The idea is once the plants are blooming and leafy they’ll create a shade canopy over the laneway.

‘We’re expecting within the first 24 months of planting that we should have vines growing over the canopy. Already they’re latching on and starting to shoot.’

The City of Melbourne contributed $100,000 to the greening project which will transform the Printmakers Laneway into a shady green space that can be enjoyed by students and members of the public.

What is the Urban Forest Fund? 

The Urban Forest Fund supports a wide range of projects, including gardens, tree planting, biodiversity projects, green roofs and vertical greening in the city.

Grant applications are assessed by a panel of greening experts and community members who prioritise projects that will provide the most benefit to the community and environment.  

For more information on current projects, including images of many of the above works, visit Urban Forest Fund.

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