Well then, any suggestions about plants ....?

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deju's picture
Well then, any suggestions about plants ....?

I have a regular sized surburban backyard in Sydney's inner west. We've recently had some camphor laurels removed (with all the required permissions etc) but now have a very bare back fence area. I want to plant natives that will be attractive to birds and will also grow to a mid size height to screen out the rear neighbour's shed and home office which is right up against their side of the back fence. Any suggestions for this location of Sydney?

(I am a bit of a novice gardener and a procrastinator who obsesses over wanting to make sure I don't plant the wrong thing, or plant plants that will not take etc, etc.)

onesimus's picture

My personal choice would be for grevilleas. For the right one for your situation you might need to ask someone at a local nursery. They should be able to advise on something of a suitable size for screening.

There is a huge variety of these plants available ranging over many different sizes. I planted several different ones in my backyard but have found that not all are suitable for where I live. We get heavy frosts a few times a year and that is sufficient to wipe out some of my favourites.
We've only been here for two years after moving from Sydney, so it's been a costly learning process.

Most importantly is to keep them clear of fertilizers - unless it's designated for native plants. Grevilleas along with related natives are soon killed by too much phosporous from normal fertilizers.

Grevilleas are a good food source for honey eaters such as Wattle birds - but these can drive smaller birds from their territory. Some of the denser more prickly-leaved varieties might be more friendly towards smaller native birds.

The most regular visitors to our grevilleas are Red Wattle birds and White Plumed Honeyeaters, but so far most of our plants are still quite new and are only recently beginning to bud.

I'm trying to plant a variety of natives in the garden along with a selection of exotics. Unfortunately a large Cootamundra Wattle bit the dust last year leaving a sizable gap that will take years to fill.

Green's picture

The grevilleas are a great idea, but also think about bottlebrushes too.
Of course talking to your local nursery person will be a great help as they can point you in the right direction as to the type of plant that is right for your location(indigenous to your area). You also need to know how much sunlight that area of your yard gets per day, the direction (nth, sth) that garden faces, maybe even the soil type you have(clay, sandy, etc).
I too have a normal sized block, in suburbia, and have planted lillypillies all around my block - mostly for privacy - and the birds love them.
I also have bottlebrush, grevillea and one teatree. These I have planted not just for food but also shelter for the birds, as they grow nice and thick.
Don't forget pruning is good for plants, so don't be afraid to do this. It helps the plant to thicken, helping the birds to 'hide' should the need arise.
Hope this makes some kind of sense and helps too.
Cheers from Green:-)

magpie's picture

Flower Power have a great outdoor section and they have trees and plants seperated by the height they will grow to, designated by a stick that represents the height. Its a nice way to choose plants that will grow to your desired height.

poephila's picture

I'd start here ...


... if I were you. Years of trying to do this has led me to some conclusions about bird friendly gardening:

1. Use local natives where possible, but add as much diversity in terms of structure, colour, density and feed types (flowers, insects, fruit, seeds). Go beyond what was once there only to comply with this. You can get additional information from Doug Benson at the Royal Botanic Gardens. He has reconstructed the Sydney bushland communities prior to flattening and clearing, is a nice (but busy) bloke and really knows his stuff. He and others have also produced lots of books on the subject that are easy to get into.

2. Don't get sucked into red. Like many birds we mammals just adore that colour. I inherited a garden with rows of red bottlebrushes. I didn't want to pull them out but every year as the little birds (finches, wrens, small honeyeaters, thornbills, etc.) are in the middle of breeding the bastards flower and with the big birds come along. The currawongs have already been hunting for nestlings, but the red flowers bring heaps of red wattlebirds and sometimes noisy miners (they are here but not in too large numbers). The little fellers really disappear at that time. So I have now planted heaps of white, cream and yellow as well, with smaller pink grevilleas that are less likely to get the big boys trying to take over.

3. Use local nursery expertise. NOT the ones that only sell foreign plants, and certainly not the generics. Use local native nurseries if possible but contact the Australian Plants Society or equivalent (using the above url to start with if you like).

4. Design your garden first in terms of structure. Include watering points or bird baths that cats find hard to ambush birds if at all possible. Keep them filled and clean. A really great thing to have is a fern house or shade house made with reo walls and translucent or shade cloth roofing. But make sure to plant the walls heavily with dense but fine vines (not things that turn into great lianas like Wonga Vines). I recommend Muehlenbeckia axillaris and similar species for this. The little birds in particular will love to build their nests there and you can close the gate on it to keep the cats out and the birds safe. We have several species of vines growing along our verandahs but the Muehlenbeckia has bred me 2 clutches of spinebills and one of scrubwrens so far this season, and it is only 18 months old.

5. Never get sucked into big trees in small spaces, especially if they look tiny in their little tubes. It costs big bucks to fix those mistakes, especially if a nasty neighbour wants to take legal action or quietly poison them at night. The average backyard will usually take two or three at most. Some smaller shrubs can also be difficult, particularly she-oaks, bottlebrushes and paperbarks near pipes. Just keep them over 2 metres away. Moreton Bay Figs and Red Cedars are big no-nos for most backyards (and white cedars can kill the neighbour's chooks and toddlers with poisonous berries).

6. If you can, include feathery-leaved wattles like silver wattle and black wattle. They grow fast and are a goldmine for insect-eating birds. Sure they only live about 10 years before slowly falling to bits, but they're well worth it for the birds.

7. I reckon the following are also musts: banksias (at least 2 species flowering at different times), grevilleas (preferably dense shrubs) and a couple of prickly-leaved plants for cover. Not a must but a really good find has been Angophora hispida, the Dwarf Apple. It tolerates just about anything and produces clouds of honey-scented white flowers around Christmas (often a pretty dead time for flowers out here) that sucks in the most beautiful beetles and all sorts of beneficial insects, quickly followed by opportunistic birds.

8. Use hedges wherever you can. Most native shrubs love pruning (as Green wrote),particularly tip-pruning and readily take to

Greetings from the northern Southern Tablelands of NSW

spiney's picture

All I can add to the replies above is to agree with Poephila and say don't get too sucked in to filling your garden with large flowered hybrid grevilleas. They tend to attract the large more aggressive honeyeaters such as the wattlebirds at the expense of smaller birds. I've found the best plants for attracting a large range of honeyeaters to be Correas and Eremophilas. Plants such as Angophora, Leptospermum, Kunzea, Bursaria, Scaevola and Xerochrysum attract loads of good insects and don't forget that even honeyeaters need to eat tons of insects to get the protein they require so insect attracting plants are vital. Some of the best seed producing plants include Acacia pycnantha, Acacia implexa, Acacia dealbata, Acacia mearnsii, Themeda triandra, Microlaena stipoides and the Allocasuarinas. Nearly all of the above plants will also bring butterflies into your garden in droves which is a fantastic bonus in my garden!! Good Luck!!

fantail's picture

I have put up lists of native species of plants that should attract certain groups of birds. Try to choose those which are found in your area. Some good books or information from local councils to what is growing in your area will be of great help. The net has some great resources too.

Try to think of upper/middle and lower storey plants as some birds like to be in different spots. Shrubbery gives them shelter and a safe spot to nest in. Someone mentioned the importance of prickly shrubs...


Butterfly Attracting Plants

Butterflies seek nectar as a food source and generally like brights flowers (white, yellow, purple, red). They seek mineralised water from river banks, mud puddles, decomposing faecal matter from birds and other animals. As mentioned in a previous post, bird baths are good and so is a frog friendly garden.

This list shows the plant groups from which you can choose different varieties to give you the enjoyment of a garden full of Butterflies. Try to choose local natives-


fantail's picture

See list of plants in thread titled in Bird Friendly Gardening called - New Bird Friendly Garden - Blog

bobkerry's picture

Well I think you can also search about this from different sites realted to plants and i am sure you will get good guidlines from there and informations too......

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