The Advantages of Trees

The Advantages of Trees

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Most of us would see trees as purely cosmetic, put here to make the place look pretty… but they are so much more than that. They are a vital part of the ecosystem. All trees are a major source of the air we breathe, they help control and stabilize the world’s climate and they provide food and shelter for millions of species.

There are many benefits in having them in our own gardens.
Read more

Reducing the heat with vegetation

Reducing the heat with vegetation

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

As the temperature begins to rise and water conservation continues to impact on gardeners, people are watering less and are looking to find alternatives for vegetation. But by using some simple planting techniques you can help to decrease the heat around your home and in turn reduce energy consumption.

In response to global warming and water restrictions across the country, politicians are suggesting quick fix strategies to combat climate change. The latest suggestion to come out of Western Australia is that we need to get rid of lawns because they are impractical. But as members of the gardening and landscape industry what we really need is long-term solutions.

Read more

Why your garden matters!

Why your garden matters!

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Every garden is its own (or is a unique but connected) ecosystem containing an extraordinary array of living organisms including plants, fungi, bacteria, microbes, insects and animals that all impact on the health and resilience of the living network. We are each the stewards of our gardens, the actions that we take can positively or negatively impact on this ecosystem.
Read more

What is Urban Ecology? – A few thoughts from BAAG’s CEO

What is Urban Ecology? – A few thoughts from BAAG’s CEO


I have been lucky to have been able to spend much of my working life surrounded by plants; studying and working in the natural environment, in local gardens and in garden centres. Like many of us, I love the opportunity to get out of the city and into the wilderness, regrettably these days it doesn’t happen quite as often as I would like. Fortunately Melbourne has been gifted with an amazing combination of parks and reserves that provide us relief from our increasingly busy lives and a sanctuary for many native species that share our city and surrounds.
Read more

Plant Tiles

Plant Tiles

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Plant tiles create stunning, alternative lawns and outdoor solutions instantly at half the cost of using traditional pots! Each tile covers the same area as ten traditional 100mm pots. As the plants grow, the roots bind the media together so that the Plant Tiles can be removed from the tray then laid on the area you have prepared. If required, simply cut to shape with scissors, then butt together and water in for complete coverage. Achieve full, green coverage instantly.
Read more

Fruit Tree Espaliering

Fruit Tree Espaliering

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Espaliering is a fantastic way to grow trees (including fruit trees) in smaller spaces. It does require regular work and is definitely not recommended for the lazy gardener or those scared of secateurs, however the effort is well worth it.

Espaliering trees is a way of making them two-dimensional rather than three. It is all about maintaining the height and width of a plant while reducing the depth and is a great way of maximizing the productivity of a warm sunny spot along a wall or a fence. Effectively, it means you can grow what is normally a big tree (or two) in a much smaller space. We have quite a few examples for you to look at in our Edible Alley (located in our driveway) and all the pics on this page are
from that garden (except the large picture above, that one is outside our classroom doors in the nursery). Have a look next time you come down.
Read more

Drought Tolerant Produce Plants

Drought Tolerant Produce Plants

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

With Melbourne’s potential for very hot periods during summer, for exposed positions we need to think about heat tolerant produce plants. Even though there are many garden plants that burn and suffer through the heat without protection, there are also those that just seem to soak it all in and actively grow. For the home gardener, fostering happy plants can involve many different factors including good plant selection, appropriate planting time and soil preparation. One might argue then that for tricky spots, such as the hot and dry ones, good plant selection is the most important. It can be difficult however, to know from the myriad possible plant choices which ones are then most appropriate for those conditions. On top of all that, if you are like myself and want every plant in the garden to be edible, medicinal or useful in some way, the planting palate can become even more limited, but then the results of careful selection are very rewarding.
Read more

Cacti & Succulents

Cacti & Succulents

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Unbelievably ‘on trend’ at the moment – succulents are the botanical star of social media. More photogenic than George Clooney, they cover just about every look from cute and country rustic (think Hens and Chickens (Echeveria) tumbling out of an old boot) to chic and architectural. Add in the ease of growing and caring for succulents and their meteoric rise in popularity makes more sense. Minimal water and maintenance, plenty of sun and generally good drainage, these are very simple plants to grow. Neglect works for succulents. Some have beautiful flowers which is an added bonus, but their true strength is in their fleshy leaves.

Check the slideshow below for some of the great cacti and succulents we have snapped at BAAG.

Read more

Camellias

Camellia (Photograph by Bulleen Art & Garden)

Camellias are one of the most enduring and versatile evergreen garden plants.  Their garden value is further enhanced due to their winter flowering season when most other plants are either in decline or dormant.  Many cultivars make wonderful potted specimens. They are equally at home as feature specimens, hedging or screening and background shrubs.  There are even dwarf cultivars available.

Read more

Duo or Multi Fruit Tree Planting

Duo or Multi Fruit Tree Planting

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Duo or multi planting is our preferred option (rather than double or multi grafting) when two or more trees are wanted in a small space. The resulting multi trunked, single canopy tree, is easy to manage and prune. You can radically increase the number and variety of fruit trees in your back-yard orchard with duo or multi planting. This allows you to enjoy a wider range of fruit over a much longer period.
Read more

Indigenous Gardens

Indigenous Gardens

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

We sometimes speak to customers who are a little confused about what exactly an indigenous plant is. Yes, they are all Australian Natives, however the definition is a little more detailed. Specifically, indigenous plants are those that occur naturally in your local area. Obviously this term will refer to different plants according to where you live.
Read more

Bulbs & Perennials

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

There are many beautiful plants that may be grown from bulbs, tubers, corms or roots. Many are suitable to grow in pots or small spaces and produce prolifically in the first season. They provide seasonal colour and many are excellent cut flowers.

There are three main seasons for plants grown from bulbs, corms, roots or tubers. The flowering seasons are spring, summer and autumn. Spring flowering bulbs are planted in late summer to autumn (the end of February until the end of April), summer flowering bulbs and perennials are planted in winter (the end of May until August or September), and Autumn flowering bulbs should be planted with the summer bulbs and perennials.
Read more

Mosquito Repellent Plants

Mosquito Repellent Plants

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Perfection is sitting outside with the warm sun on my face, the company of friends and family, and food on the table. To keep this image of perfection firmly in place, I need to exclude the uninvited guest – the mosquito.

I can slather on insecticide, have bottles ready for other people to use, or I can plan ahead, and create a mosquito free garden. They have lots of options, they don’t have to be in my garden, so I plan on making it as unattractive to them as I can, sort of a cultural desert for mozzies, no where to hang out, unattractive smells, nothing enticing.
Read more

Silk Tassel Bush (Garrya elliptica)

Silk Tassel Bush (Garrya elliptica)

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

In the depths of winter Garrya elliptica suddenly changes from a useful, but somewhat boring, grey-green evergreen shrub into a supremely elegant showstopper. Clever gardeners plant it where the long cascading tassels (catkins) are shown to advantage, sometimes against a wall, sometimes as a shrub along the front fence, always eye-catching. It flowers from mid-winter into spring, with the tassels gradually elongating and subtly changing. In some ways this is a showy plant, but the silvery grey coloured tassels, highlighted against the grey green glossy and slightly wavy foliage, give it an elegant subtlety which lends itself to many different styles of gardens. The leaves are glossy on top but soft and woolly underneath, a lovely contrast and another subtle touch.
Read more

Wicking Beds

Wicking Beds

Wicking Beds

Understanding Wicking Beds

For any gardeners who have used self-watering pots, you are already familiar with sub-irrigation systems. If you’ve ever sat a pot plant in a saucer of water on a hot summer day, that’s sub-irrigation, and that’s exactly how a wicking bed works, the only difference being that it can be scaled up to the size of a whole raised garden bed!

Wicking beds appear to be very promising, so you may be wondering why they aren’t more widespread, and why the sub-irrigation systems aren’t more universally adopted in the gardening world. The simple answer is that wicking beds and sub-irrigation systems are not a universal solution to all watering problems, and that different plants have different watering needs.

Wicking beds create very unique soil conditions because water wicks up from below the plant roots upwards to the top of the soil, and this system has very clear advantages and disadvantages, which we will examine below.
Read more

Raised Garden Beds

Raised Garden Beds

Galvanised Raised Garden Beds (Photograph by Bulleen Art & Garden)

Raised Garden Beds allow you to grow your own herbs and vegetables easily and comfortably. It doesn’t matter what your existing soil quality is like, you can now grow in quality, productive and water efficient soil and cut out most of the back-breaking digging.

The soil will never become compacted and your produce garden will produce healthier crops. You will also be conserving water and recycling organic household waste, not to mention the satisfaction of feeding your family from your own home produce. They are lightweight and easily moved around your garden when they are empty… perfect for renters who want to grow their own produce. Just empty them and take them with you when you move.

Read more

Selecting & Laying Turf or Lawn Seed

A small patch of green lawn in the front or back yard provides a versatile space that can be enjoyed year round, softens and reduces the impact of extreme weather while decreasing water runoff from hard surfaces into our rivers and creeks.

The choice of either seed or plugs depends on if you are rejuvenating or starting from scratch, the type of grass, your budget and time and effort that you would like to invest in creating your lawn. As a general rule seed can be used for rejuvenating or establishing a new lawn but do take a longer period to establish while are quicker to establish but more expensive.

Please note we no longer stock Instant Turf.

Read more

Green Roofs

Green Roofs

Green roofs are rooftops equipped to grow gardens. They can grow food, be a place to relax in, help control internal and external temperature, or any combination of these. An additional benefit is boosting the productivity of solar panels during the warmer months of the year.

Green roofs are growing in popularity, both internationally and in Australia. In Germany, gardens cover 15% of all rooftops, with over one billion square metres of green roof, and in France it was recently mandated that all new buildings must be covered with either gardens or solar panels. An inspiring step forward.
Read more

Heather’s Garden in Lower Templestowe

Heather’s Garden in Lower Templestowe

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

As a Horticulturalist, it is always a delight to visit the garden of a fellow plant lover. I recently had the pleasure of walking around, admiring and discussing plants with Heather, a long time Bulleen Art & Garden customer. Heather & her husband Mike live in Lower Templestowe, and their garden has been a labour of love for over twenty years. Heather and Mike are regular visitors to BAAG, and it was fantastic to get the opportunity to go and have a look at the garden where so many of our plants have ended up!
Read more

Planting Guide – the ‘how’ and ‘when’

Planting Guide – the ‘how’ and ‘when’

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden
When it comes to planting good timing helps, but life goes on if you miss it. There are quite a few good horticultural reasons for planting trees, shrubs and perennials in autumn or winter; however life has a habit of ruining all the best laid plans. Plants are unavailable, you simply don’t have time, holidays are scheduled to suit school dates etc. I am often asked in the nursery if it is OK to plant in summer. My answer is that we keep plants alive in the nursery; you can do so at home, it is simply a commitment you make. Sometimes the plant you want isn’t released for sale until the warmer months, so you may have little option.
Read more

Insect Repellent Plants

Insect Repellent Plants

Marigold Flowers (Photograph by Bulleen Art & Garden)

Natural Insect Repellents… Plants, recipes and ideas

I was amused, reading an article that stated “the success of insect repellent plants is part folklore, part experience and part wishful thinking.” I’d like to think that gardeners in earlier times used plants seriously for all sorts of purposes and that hundreds of years of experience has given truth to some of these uses. I also wish that as a society we could adapt natural methods of pest control. Too many toxic chemicals that poison our soils, our water, our wildlife, our plants and ourselves!

There is a vast array of information out there about using plants for medicinal remedies, as insect and disease repellents and for companion planting in the garden. I will give you a few ideas and some recipes to lead you down the garden path to more sustainable and friendly gardening.
Read more

Improving soil which has been under concrete

Improving soil which has been under concrete

A question which regularly gets asked at the nursery is “what do I do with my soil now I have removed the concrete?”

The issues that arise with soil under large areas of concrete include compaction, hydrophobic soil, lack of organic material and pH. Depending on the degree of compaction, you may need to hire equipment to do some of the initial breaking up of the soil. If it isn’t too bad, then a sturdy garden fork and muscles will do the trick.
Read more

Backyard Chooks

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden
Sceptics say that you can’t have a garden with chooks. They dig up plants, they make a mess of mulch, they leave droppings around, but this could be said of many pets. My experience is that a garden just isn’t one without them. To see them strutting around the lawn, or lying down and stretching out their wings to soak up the sunshine brings colour and movement to a backyard like nothing else. Even though many of the varieties don’t necessarily make cuddly pets, hens have a lot more to offer than just their good looks and amusing antics. They do know whose hand it is that feeds them.

Click the pic to book into our Backyard Chooks for Beginners class… or keep reading for more great chook info.
Read more

Choosing the right sleeper for the job

Choosing the right sleeper for the job

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

When you’re working with sleepers, it’s important to use the right ones for the right job. It doesn’t matter if you’re building a retaining wall or a vegie bed or a fence, or laying garden edging or playground borders – the key to doing the job properly is knowing which sleepers are best for the work at hand. To do the job right and to make sure that health and safety standards are met, it pays to do your research before you jump in.

Luckily, we’ve done that bit for you. Read on for more info on the different kinds of sleepers we stock here are at BAAG, as well as explanations of which job each type is suitable for.
Read more

Nectarine – Nectazee Standard

Nectarine - Nectazee Standard

Of the fruit trees growing at BAAG, one that stands out as a great plant selection is the Nectazee standard at the front entrance (our north eastern parterre bed). Nectazee standards are part of the Fleming’s Trixzie miniature fruit tree range which is made up of Nectazee Nectarines, Pixzee Peaches, White and Black Cherree Cherries and Pixzee Pears. Like most other dwarf fruit trees, barring dwarf pomegranates which are ornamental anyway, these produce full sized fruit on miniature sized trees.

Read more

Ornamental Edible Gardens


Since Ancient Times, Edible Gardening and producing food was motivated by survival. The Egyptians, the Persians and the Romans developed ‘Paradise Gardens’ that became increasingly elaborate, intermingling ornamental and edible plants. In Medieval Times, Christian Monastery Gardens used function in geometric patterns to enclose herb, fruit and vegetable gardens. Most of the peasant population also cultivated edible garden plots by their home or in community gardens, essential for their daily sustenance. During the Renaissance ‘Paradise Gardens’ were elaborate with fantastic gardens of clipped hedges, mazes and exotic plants, including fruits and vegetables carefully and often expensively sourced from all over the world.

Read more

Bonsai

Bonsai

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

The art of Bonsai can be traced back as far as the 6th Century AD. Far more than simply miniaturisation, a Bonsai should capture a moment in nature. Requiring skill, effort and an appreciation of the subtleties of each tree, the results can be truly breathtaking . It may seem daunting when you first start reading about it, but providing you remember to carry out the routine maintenance it really is quite straight forward.

Read more

Lawn Alternatives

Lawn Alternatives

Vast expanses of patchy, dead and weed infested lawn areas taking up space in your backyard? Are you a slave to the drone of a lawnmower on your day off? Instead you could be out in your garden enjoying your own private space, a space tailored to your needs and aesthetic style. Escape the mundane uniformity of an artificial, vegetative mat and enjoy some of the visual and aromatic delights the natural world has on offer. You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to finding an alternative for all that dull lawn.

Read more

Trees for Small Gardens

Trees for Small Gardens

Espaliered Trees

Espaliering is a form of pruning and training trees as a flat two dimensional specimen. This is usually done against a wall but may also be used to provide a free standing green wall. There are many different shapes that the espalier may take. Traditional espaliers usually have lateral branches trained horizontally at regular spacing. However other shapes may be used including fan, palmette and cordon shapes. Espaliering displays the flowers and fruits very attractively and creates an elegant, compact tree, which is perfectly suited to small gardens.

 
Flowering Cherries, Crab Apples, Cercis, Laburnum, Crepe Myrtle and Prunus all make stunning espaliers. The fruit trees most suited to this style of training are Apples and Pears. However, other fruit trees such as Plums, Cherries, Peaches, Nectarines, Almonds, Apricots and fruiting vines can also be espaliered in more simple designs. Espaliered trees create a compact, elegant tree whose flowers and fruit are attractively displayed, and spraying and picking fruit is easier and less time-consuming. Fruit is usually produced earlier on espaliered trees. Netting to protect ripening fruit is also easier on a smaller, more compact tree.

 

Requirements

A constructed support such as trellis or horizontal wires upon a fence is needed to support the tree. Strong posts are required at the ends to hold up the trellis or on which to train wires. Wires must be under tension and need to be thick enough to train the growing stems to. The wires should be spaced 50 to 75 cm apart and space the trees at two to 4 m apart depending on the size of the tree.

 

Method

Select young trees with evenly spaced branches. Chose the lateral branches to be retained and prune off all other laterals near the trunk. Tie the laterals down to the wires (for a traditional espalier), or onto bamboo canes, which should then be tied into position on the wires (for fan shaped espaliers). Use flexible ties which should be checked regularly for damage to the stems. Prune the tips of the laterals back to the desired length, to a bud. Vertical, inward-facing and weak growth should be removed.

 

Espaliered trees have the same growing requirements as other fruit and deciduous trees, so remember that
adequate watering in summer and providing the right soil conditions are essential to maintaining a healthy
espaliered tree. Espaliering is a high maintenance technique. Constant pruning and tying in are needed to create the right shape to start with. When the desired shape and size are reached, this must be maintained with regular pruning. Early summer pruning is important to control vigour and prevent shading of the lower limbs.

 

Winter pruning

Winter pruning is also required, and it is also the time to redefine the shape and size of the espalier.

 

Pleaching Fruit and Deciduous Trees

Pleaching is a very old technique used with many fruit and ornamental deciduous trees to form a free-standing ‘hedge-on-stilts’. The training is similar to forming an espalier – trees are planted in a line at approximately 2.5m apart, lower branches are removed and lateral branches of adjacent trees are trained to ‘Knit together’ to form a tall hedge. This is very useful to create privacy along a narrow driveway.

 

Duo and trio fruit trees

This refers to planting two or more trees into the same hole. Commonly done when trees require cross pollinators and/or when space is tight.

Trees will grow on their own root system and with their own growth habit. An advantage is that the stronger growing tree will not dominate the weaker tree which is often a problem in multi grafted trees. A dwarfing effect and earlier fruit may be noticeable due to competition.

Plant the trees around 150mm – 300mm apart and at a very slight outward angle. Judicious pruning to remove some of the branches in the centre triangle (if three trees) or adjacent (if two trees) is ideal when planting. Prune as if one tree, so you have an open structure with tree branches not interfering with each other.

These multiple plantings allow you to fit in cross pollinators, to increase your range of species and lengthen harvest time.

 

Cordons

A cordon involves training a tree with a single stem. Cordons are planted on a slant and trained up wires at a 45 degree angle, then gradually trained along the top of the wire trellis. This form of training allows many different cultivars to be produced in a small space. It is suitable for many fruit tree cultivars as well as berries.

 

Ballerina Apples

The Ballerina Apple tree is a compact, columnar tree, which only grows 3.5m tall by 60cm wide. It is perfect for small spaces or growing in pots. This tree requires little or no pruning. Many fruiting apple cultivars are available as well as an ornamental Crab Apple. It produces a large crop of medium to large-sized excellent-flavoured fruit. Fruit matures in mid-late March. Ballerina Apples are partially self-fertile, although another Ballerina Apple, Jonathan, Granny Smith or Dayton planted nearby would be an advantage.

 

Dwarf Fruit Trees Cultivars of Apples, Nectarines, Peaches and Pomegranates are grafted or bred to produce smaller trees that produce abundant crops of normal-sized fruits. The trees reach approximately 2 x 2 m. These are ideal for container growing or planted in small gardens. Varieties available are Granny Smith, Jonathan, Golden Delicious, Gala and Red Delicious, Nectarine, Peaches (grown primarily for their ornamental value) and Pomegranates.

 

Standard Forms

Many citrus, roses, hedging and flowering shrubs can be bought or trained as standard forms. The plant is pruned to form a ‘ball on a stick’, displaying flowers, fruit or foliage on a formal plant. Standard Cumquats, Roses and English Box or Lilly Pilly standards can look stunning in small gardens or pots where a formal style or feature is desired.

Trees in Pots

Many fruit trees and deciduous ornamentals can be grown in containers on balconies or in small gardens. This is very useful for people without gardens. A container that holds a large amount of potting mix is necessary. A half wine-barrel with holes drilled is ideal. If the pot is smaller, the tree may need re-potting every 2-3 years and will not produce as much fruit. It is important to use a good quality potting mix and to give the tree a deep, regular soaking, with extra water on hot days. The tree will not grow as large in a pot.

Weeping Fruit & Ornamental Trees

Many deciduous ornamentals, such as Weeping Cherries, Birches, Mulberries or Maples are excellent container grown plants. The same principles apply as above. The plant can be brought out for display when it is at its best or can be under planted with bulbs, ground covers or annuals during the dormant stage.

 

Rosemary

Rosemary

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Rosemary is the perfect way to start off your herb garden. They are dead easy to grow providing you follow a few simple guidelines. Not only are they one of the most versatile herbs for cooking, they are also a beautiful ornamental plant that will bring colour and fragrance to your garden. The botanical name, Rosmarinus officinalis, means ‘dew of the sea’, very appropriate given how often rosemary is used in Mediterranean cooking.
Read more

Perfumed Gardens

Rose 'Neptune'

There are many plants to choose from to add fragrance to your garden. Some have fragrant flowers, others aromatic foliage, or both. Fragrance adds an important dimension to the garden and should not be overlooked when selecting plants for your garden.

Designing a perfumed garden

Planning is the key to success when planting a perfumed garden. Planting too many strongly scented plants close together and all flowering at the same time would be overwhelming, so it is important to know when each plant will be in flower. It may be wise to intersperse strongly scented plants with non – scented plants, or select plants so that the flowering season is staggered all year round.

Positioning plants

When planning the garden, position the most strongly scented plants so that the scent may be enjoyed. For example, plant near entrances, windows and around outdoor entertaining areas. Placing scented plants in pots is an easy way to shift plants in flower to these areas. Some flowers smell strongest at night, so these are best planted near windows or doors, where the fragrance may be enjoyed.

Intensity of Perfume

Some plants may have a pleasant, but more subtle fragrance. These should be planted together en masse to gain the benefit of their perfume. However, strongly perfumed plants are best planted singly, for example many of the Jasmines. Keep in mind that some strongly scented plants may smell good to some people and not to others.

Foliage fragrance tends to be subtler than many of the scented flowers. Usually, foliage gives off scent when crushed or brushed against. Edging paths with fragrant foliage plants is an ideal way to take advantage of this.

Many herbs have strongly aromatic foliage, which may be picked and dried to bring the fragrance inside the house. Pruning therefore has an added advantage of providing material for cooking and other crafts.

Some Planting Ideas

A Fragrant Rose Garden

Plant

Colour

Habit

Design Use / Fragrance

Rose ‘Lamarque’

White

Climber

On Walls

Rosa ‘Crepuscule’

Orange

Climber

On walls, over pergolas

Rosa ‘Dublin Bay’

Red

Climber

Over arches, pillars

Rosa ‘Freesia’

Yellow

Floribunda

Bush Rose

Rosa ‘Charles de Gaulle’

Mauve

Hybrid Tea

Bush Rose

Rosa ‘Fiona’s Wish’

Pink

Hybrid Tea

Bush Rose

Rosa ‘Abraham Darby’

Apricot

David Austin

Bush Rose

Lavender

Purple / Mauve

Small Shrub

Interspersed with bush roses

Heliotrope

Purple

Small Shrub

Interspersed with bush roses, Vanilla scented flowers

Mintia (Hesperozygis)

Pink / Blue / Purple

Small Shrub

As a border or edging plant, Mint foliage fragrance

Philadelphus mexicanus

Colour and Fragrance All Year

Plant

Season

Habit

Chimonanthus praecox

Winter

Medium Shrub, flowers on bare stems

Philadelphus mexicanus

Spring

Medium Shrub

Murraya paniculata

Summer

Medium Shrub

Choisya ternata

Summer

Medium Shrub

Chocolate Cosmos

Summer

Perennial

Prostanthera ovalifolia, or P. rotundifolia

All year

Medium Shrub

Sweet Pea

Spring

Annual

Osmanthus ‘Heaven Scent’

Early Spring

Medium Shrub

Jasminum spp.

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Climber

Jonquil

Spring

Bulb

Tuberose

Summer

Bulb

Hyacinth

Spring

Bulb

Boronia

Late Winter, Spring

Small Shrub

Oriental Lilium

Summer

Bulb

A Perfumed Shade Garden

Plant

Habit

Position

Season

Daphne odora

Small Shrub

Plant in different areas to take advantage of the winter fragrance

Winter

Bouvardia humboltii

Small Shrub

Best in pots to take advantage of the fragrance

Summer

Gardenias

Small to medium shrubs

May be used as a hedge, massed, or in pots. Light Shade only.

Summer

Lily of the Valley

Perennial

Plant under trees

Summer

Trachelospermum jasminoides

Climber

Walls and pergolas

Summer, Autumn

Luculia gratissima, or L. grandiflora

Large Shrub

Background shrub

Winter

Cyclamen

Bulb

Adds a splash or colour to the garden, or in pots

Autumn, Winter

Saracocca confusa

Small Shrub

Excellent hedging plant

Spring

Hedychium gardnerianum

Perennial

Background planting, or in narrow beds where height is required

Summer

Viola odorata

Groundcover

Excellent groundcover under trees

Spring, Summer, Autumn

A fragrant kitchen garden

Plant

Habit

Use

Citrus

Small Tree

Culinary

Pineapple Sage

Perennial

Culinary, Fragrance

Rosemary

Small Shrub

Culinary, hedging

Thyme

Groundcover

Culinary, Fragrance

Bergamot

Perennial

Fragrance, Flavouring

Scented Pelargoniums

Perennial

Fragrance, Companion Planting

Sage officionalis

Small Shrub

Fragrant foliage, Culinary

Mint

Groundcover

Fragrant foliage, Culinary

Oregano

Groundcover

Culinary

Using Colour in your Garden

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

With a little planning and preparation it is easy to achieve a garden with colour and interest all year round.

Design Techniques with Colour


There are many techniques to successfully combine colours in the garden, and some of these can be better understood by using a colour wheel. Colours next to each other on the colour wheel are known as complementary colours, whereas those opposite each other on the colour wheel are contrasting colours. If you are unsure of what colour combinations will work, use either complementary (adjacent) or contrasting (opposite) combinations of colour for guaranteed success.

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

However, if you are more adventurous you can use just about any combination of colour. Combining ‘clashing’ colours may also work as long as they are the same depth of colour. For example, combine all pastel shades together (Mauve, Lemon, Pale Pink), or all use all bright shades (Deep Blue, Canary Yellow and Hot Pink). Alternatively, white and silver or grey may be used to dilute stronger ‘clashing’ colours.

Different colours will add a sense of depth to the garden by receding into the background or jumping into the foreground. As a general rule, pale hues and shades of blue will recede, whereas bright hues and shades of yellow will appear closer. Shades of red will tend to occupy the middle ground, but will appear closer if of brighter intensity and towards the yellow spectrum, or further away if of pale intensity and towards the blue spectrum.

Hot and cool is another way to describe colour, with red, orange and yellow the hot colours and blue, purple and green the cool colours. White tends to be a cool colour, and is particularly effective when used in shady areas. Black tends to disappear in the garden, therefore if using black foliage or flowers for colour, combine with white, silver or pastel shades as a contrast.

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Flower colour

Usually, we think of flowers to provide colour and interest in the garden throughout the year. Most plants flower for a short time during the year, a show that can last for a few weeks to an entire season. Some plants may be pruned to encourage a repeat performance to extend the show. Therefore, when planning planting schemes it is good to know when the main flowering season of a plant is.

Foliage colour

Colour highlights in the garden may also be provided by foliage colours other than green. There are many evergreen and deciduous plants with interesting foliage colours such as lime, gold, yellow, cream, white, silver, grey, blue, pink, burgundy, russet, red and orange.

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Many plants have a combination of colours on the foliage known as variegation. The forms of variegation of many plants is huge, with striped, blotched, spotted, margined, and even chequered patterns. Variegation is usually green and gold, cream or white, but some variegation is a combination of other colours. Foliage colour may also be seasonal, particularly in deciduous plants (think of the beautiful Autumn colour of many deciduous trees), but also in evergreen plants (for example the new red growth of Photinia).

Fruit, berries, seed pods and bark may also provide colour at various times during the year.

Using a Combination of Plants

(Annuals / Perennials / Bulbs / Shrubs / Trees / Climbers)
When planning for colour in your garden, it is important to remember that all levels from the ground up may provide colour throughout the year. Therefore using a combination of plants from groundcovers to trees can really pack a colourful punch in a limited space. Using large blocks or rows of plants requires a larger space to have the same impact.

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Soil and Maintenance

It is essential to provide a healthy soil environment to ensure the success of your colour display. Use composts and manures to add to the existing soil, mulch thickly, fertilise using organic fertilisers, and water when needed. Regular maintenance of the soil environment is beneficial. Top dress planted areas with compost and manure on a regular basis.

Pruning and re – planting areas will also prolong the display, add to your compost supplies and provide propagation material for future displays. Collecting seed, dividing plants and taking cuttings is a good way to renew the display and will keep the display looking fresh.

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Seasons

Separate areas of the garden can be planted for a simultaneous and spectacular display at one particular time of the year. Alternatively garden beds can be planted so that there is always something in colour all throughout the year, using a clever mix of plants.

The following are some lists of plants for the Melbourne area, which add colour to the various seasons, in different positions in the garden. However, there are many more plants you can use to create your own display.

Hot Colours for Shady Areas

Plant Flowering Season Nursery Section / Habit
Canna Lilies Summer Perennial Rhizome
Clivea Spring Perennial Lily
Bromeliads Summer Perennial Bromeliad
New Guinea Impatiens Summer Annual
Camellia japonica cvs. Winter Medium to Tall Shrub
Cordyline All year Perennial, Shrub
Coleus Summer Annual
Rhododendron Autumn, Spring Small to Large Shrub
Mollis Azalea Spring Medium Shrub
Fuchsia Spring, Summer, Autumn Small Shrub
Cyclamen Autumn, Winter Bulb, Corm
Primula acaulis Winter Annual
Begonia Tuberous and Cane Summer Annual, Perennial
Aucuba japonica All year Medium Shrub
Abutilon X hybrida Spring, Summer, Autumn Medium Shrub
Correa N Autumn, Spring Small Shrub

Cool Colours for Shady Areas

Plant Flowering Season Nursery Section / Habit
Hydrangea Summer Small to Medium Shrub
Azalea Spring Small Shrub
Cineraria Winter Annual
Daphne Winter Small Shrub
Viola and Pansy Autumn, Winter, Spring Annual, Perennial Groundcover
Impatiens Summer Annual
Liriope muscari Autumn Perennial Grass
Pieris Spring Medium Shrub
Plectranthus ecklonii Autumn Perennial
Anemone X hybrida Autumn Perennial
Ajuga Autumn Perennial Groundcover
Camellia sasanqua cvs. Autumn, Winter Medium to Tall Shrub
Helleborus orientalis Winter Perennial
Philotheca myoporoides N Spring Small to Medium Shrub
Aquilegia Spring, Summer Annual
Brachyscome multifida N Spring, Summer, Autumn Perennial Groundcover
Lilies Oriental Summer Bulb

Hot Colours for Sunny Areas

Plant Flowering Season Nursery Section / Habit
Hibiscus Summer Medium Shrub
Bougainvillea Summer Climber
Roses Spring, Summer, Autumn Shrub, Climber
Portulaca Summer Annual
Anigozanthos cvs. N Summer Perennial Strap Leaf
Phormium All Year Perennial Strap Leaf
Daffodils Spring Bulb
Grevillea spp. N All Year Small to Tall Shrubs
Ranunculus Spring Bulb
Euryops pectinatus Winter Medium Shrub
Geraniums Summer Perennial
Callistemon spp. Autumn, Spring Small Shrubs to Small Trees
Acacia spp. N Winter, Spring Medium Shrubs to Small Trees
Citrus All Year Evergreen Tree
Sedum spectabile Autumn Perennial Succulent
Chanomeles japonica Winter Medium Shrub
Lagerstroemia (Crepe Myrtle) Autumn Deciduous Tree
Chrysocephalum sp. N Spring, Summer, Autumn Perennial Groundcover
Robinia Sunburst Spring, Summer, Autumn Deciduous Tree
Verbena Summer, Autumn Annual, Perennial Groundcover

Cool Colours for Sunny Areas

Plant Flowering Season Nursery Section / Habit
Plumbago auriculata Summer, Autumn Medium Shrub
Magnolia Deciduous Spring Tall Shrub, Small Deciduous Tree
Hardenbergia violacea N Winter Climber
Prunus spp. Spring Deciduous Tree
Petunias Summer Annual
Tulips Spring Bulb
Chamelaucium uncinatum N Winter, Spring Medium Shrub
Bearded Iris Spring, Early Summer Perennial Rhizome
Federation Daisies Spring, Summer, Autumn Small Shrub
Cosmos Summer Annual
Alogyne heuglii N Spring, Summer, Autumn Medium Shrub
Alyssum Summer Annual
Primula malacoides Winter Annual
Salvias Summer, Autumn Perennial
Lavendar cvs. Summer, Autumn Small Shrub
Eremophila nivea N Winter, Spring Medium Shrub
Choisya ternata Summer Medium Shrub
Limonium perezii Summer Perennial
Erysimum Winter Joy Winter, Spring Perennial, Small Shrub

Lawn Alternative Planting Options

Lawn Alternative Planting Options

Lawn alternatives are a group of plant species far more suited to our growing conditions than traditional lawns. They can be used as a beautiful and practical substitute for your open spaces. So why not plant species that require little to know additional irrigation, look great, and are better for the environment. Who wants to spend their free time mowing? Here are some great lawn replacement ideas to get you thinking…

Read more

Screening Ideas

As time goes on, land and space is becoming more valuable. House blocks are reducing in size and buildings are taking up more and more of the average backyard. Not only are the buildings getting closer, but more and more of them are going up, adding a second story is becoming more common. Most people do not want to be reminded of the increasing proximity of their neighbours. They want to screen them out.

Choosing a Suitable Screen

There are many options when creating a screen, but before you rush out and get the first thing you can think of, there are a few questions you should ask yourself.

How high do I need the screen to be?
How dense do I need the screen to be?
Do I want the screen to cast shade all year round?
How many hours of sun does the area get during the day?
What are the growing conditions like?
How quickly do I need the screen?

Your answers to these questions will help to narrow your choices.

Shrubs and Trees

Many species of trees, shrubs and climbers make excellent screens. Usually mass plantings of the same species are used, although screens may use a mix of different plants.

Light

Consider how much light you want to screen out or if you want to let the light through in winter. Then consider if you want an evergreen or a deciduous screen. At this point you should consider how dark an area is during the winter months if you use a dense evergreen screen.

There are many different foliage types and growth habits.

Foliage types

Large leaves + long internodes = intermediate screen eg. Pyrus Capital
Small leaves + long internode spaces = sparse screen eg. Michelia Scented Pearl
Large Leaves + short internode spaces = dense screen eg. Viburnum odoratissimum
Small leaves + short internode spaces = dense screen eg. Pittosporum Screen Master
* An internode is the length of stem between the leaves or buds.

Growth habit may include the following;

Fastigiate (Upright branching, narrow) eg. Pencil Pine
Upright, eg. Callistemon Kings Park Special
Spreading or broad, eg. Fejoa sellowiana
Open, eg. Alogyne heuglii (Native Hibiscus)
Weeping, eg. Agonis flexuosa.

Pruning may be used to increase the density of many screening plants, and is recommended in the management of screens, particularly fast growing species.

Height

It is important to determine the height that the screen needs to be to block out a view, to avoid planting inappropriately large plants in a confined space. To work out the height that the screen needs to be, follow the diagram below. This illustrates that if the building next door is 6m high, you do not necessarily need a screen that is 6m high.

Spacing

The width of the screen may also be an issue, especially as many screens are between houses, fences and pathways. Always try to make any garden beds on fence lines as wide as possible, as this will give you more choice when it comes to selecting suitable screening plants. Plants that get much wider than you allow for will mean a lot of trimming during the year. Please take into consideration the fact that healthy plants need a substantial root system to grow. If the space is very narrow, climbers or non – living screens may be more suitable than trees or shrubs.

Climbers

There are many climbers suitable for using as a screen. Many of these will need support such as lattice or wire to cling on to as they climb. The strength and size of the support required depends on the growth habit of the climber, with vigorous climbers requiring more solid support. It is important to choose a climber that is a suitable mature size for the space allocated. There are some climbers that are self – clinging and will attach themselves to brick or timber surfaces. These can usually be clipped back to the fence or wall, which is useful in confined spaces.

Walls and Man Made Screens

There are many materials that may be used to create a screen of different sizes. Obviously most councils will have restrictions on the size and sometimes the materials used to create a screen or wall, so it best to check before you start construction.

There are many already constructed roll out products available, including brush, bamboo, fern, tea tree and willow. Also sheets of timber lattice and fence extensions may be used.

If you are feeling creative, the sky is the limit as to the materials you can use. Even using old branches or try combining some recycled materials for a truly individual screen.

Decorative or artistic screens can be used to combine both the sculptural element with a practical purpose. These sorts of screens make excellent dividers in a garden and can be used to screen off compost and rubbish bins, clothes lines and sheds.


Hedging

Hedges are usually a more formal type of screen or living wall. Hedges are usually of one type of plant, clipped into a shape, usually square, but other shapes may also be used.

There are many plants suitable for choosing to make into a hedge. Generally, they should have a short internode space, as these will give a more solid hedge when pruned and maintained regularly.

The spacing of plants within a hedge is very close, so that the branches when fully grown, ‘knit together’ to form a continuous line. First determine the width of the individual plant at maturity. Then plant out half to one third less than this distance apart, to achieve the correct spacing.

Because the spacing for the plants is so close, there will be much root competition for the available nutrients and water. Therefore, hedges require regular fertilising and watering, as well as adequate preparation of the planting site from the start. Work the entire soil area where the hedge will be, breaking up the soil and adding organic matter if appropriate. After planting remember to mulch well and keep the area well watered during establishment of the hedge. Generally, the closer the plants, there will be more root competition and the hedge tends to be shorter.

Pruning of your hedge will depend on the speed that the plants grow. Fast growing plants will require regular pruning at a shorter interval. Prune the hedge plants right from the start both top and sides, rather than leaving the hedge to get to the required height before pruning. This will maintain a dense hedge with growth to the ground. The hedge should be pruned so that it tapers towards the top of the hedge, allowing light to get to the bottom of the hedge and keeping the hedge dense to the ground.

Legal Considerations

It is understandable that you may want to block out the view of your neighbour, but before you rush out and get the biggest and fastest growing trees you can find, you should note that you do have certain legal responsibilities.

– The neighbour can trim the hedge or screen straight up from the fence or boundary line. They may also return the clippings to the owners’ side.

– The ownership of the plant is held by the person on who’s property the trunk is.

– If you ever have any doubts, it is always best to be on the safe side and contact your Local Council for further information.

Screening Plant Suggestions

Here are a few ideas for some screening plants for different areas.

Screening in a Shady Area

Plant

Screen Height

Spacing

Density

Years to maturity (approx)

Camellia sasanqua cvs.

2 to 5m

1 – 1.5m

Light to medium

5

Aucuba japonica

2 to 3m

1.2 – 1.5m

Dense

8

Japanese Maple

6m

2 – 3m

Light to medium

6

Grevillea longistyla

3 – 4m

1.2m

Medium

4

Nandina domestica

1.5 – 2m

0.6m

Medium to Dense

5

Down the Side of the House (Between a Wall and a Fence)

Plant

Screen Height

Spacing

Density

Years to maturity (approx)

Trachelospermum jasminoides

4 x 2m

1 – 2m

Dense

4

Cordyline stricta

1.8m

1m

Medium

5

Aphanopetalum resinofolium(Sun Vine)

4 x 4m

1 – 2m

Medium to Dense

4

Clumping Bamboo

1.5 – 6m

1.5m

Medium to Dense

8 – 10

Michelia ‘Scented Pearl’

2.5 – 3m

1.2 – 2m

Light to Medium

6

Screen in a Hurry

Plant

Screen Height

Spacing

Density

Years to maturity (approx)

Pittosporum ‘Screen Master’

3 – 5m

1.2 – 1.5m

Dense

4

Lily Pilly Spp.

2 – 10m

1 – 2m

Dense

5

Photinia glabra ‘Rubra’

4 – 5m

1.2 – 1.5m

Dense

4

Hardenbergia violacea

5m x 3m

1.5 – 2m

Medium to Dense

2

Passion Fruit

3m x 5m

2 – 3m

Dense

1

Grevillea Spp.

1.5 – 5m

1.2 – 2m

Medium

3

Leptospermum petersonii

5 – 7m

1.2 – 2m

Medium to Dense

5

Myrtus communis

3m

1 – 1.5m

Dense

4

Beside the Drive

Plant

Screen Height

Spacing

Density

Years to maturity (approx)

Pyrus Capital

8m

2 – 3m

Light to Medium

6

Juniperus Skyrocket

8m

0.5 – 1m

Medium to Dense

5

Ballerina Apples

6m

1m

Light to Medium

6

Syzygium australe ‘Hinterland Gold’

5m

0.75 – 1m

Dense

3

Callistemon ‘Western Glory’

3m

1.2 – 1.5m

Medium

4

Pittosporum ‘Green Pillar’

3m

1 – 1.2m

Dense

4

Rainwater

A rainwater conservation system involves collecting rainwater from the roof and storing it in a tank for later use as irrigation water. Recycling rainwater for use on garden beds is an excellent way of reducing household water that must otherwise be purchased from water companies. Considering that around 30% of household water goes on the garden, this is a great way of saving money whilst conserving the amount of water in our storage dams.

It used to be that only farmers had rainwater tanks. But now things have changed and the popularity of the humble rainwater tank has skyrocketed in recent years, following the introduction of water restrictions across the country. Perhaps the boom has peaked in some parts but as the threat of stage 4 restrictions loom for Melbourne, tanks look set to play a massive role in our gardens for a long while yet. So where do we start with tanks? There is so much info to digest. What type of tank should I get? How much water will I need? What pump is best for my situation? So lets start with the basics and talk about the pros and cons of installing a water tank.

Advantages

Rainwater can help to make you more self-sufficient. It provides a back-up supply in case of further water restrictions, water shortages, or water quality problems.

Rainwater can be cleaner than mains, bore or dam water because it lacks many of the nasty chemicals. However we advise against drinking urban tank water, particularly when the mains supply is so good.

Using tank water can save you big money on your water bills.

In fact you can reduce reticulated water use by 50 to 100 percent in urban areas. This is great for the environment because it helps to reduce the energy used for pumping water as well as infrastructure operating costs. It also lessens the need for new dam construction and protects remaining environmental flows in rivers.

Disadvantages

Initial Cost. Tanks are a fairly expensive item to buy especially when you take into consideration the preparation work and installation. However, think of a tank as a long-term investment that could see you save money in the long run.

Regular maintenance. It is a good idea to regularly check and clean the gutters to prevent leaf litter build up. This will save you problems in the future.

Using rainwater in the garden

Rainwater can be applied from the tank to the garden by any of the following methods:

  • Gravity-fed hose irrigation

  • With a watering can – most useful to water pots and containers

  • Pumped from the tank to sprinkler irrigation systems within the garden

Will a system work at my house?

The type of rainwater system you choose will be determined by your water use requirements, the space you have available for a tank, the collection area of your roof, and the cost of each system.

For a small or inner city garden where tank size is limited, a tank connected to a gravity-fed hose and supply for hand watering is most appropriate. The minimum tank size recommend for use with a pump-fed irrigation system is 2000 litres. Mains water can be linked into the system and accessed by an automated switch-over mechanism, as a backup water source if tank water runs out.

Choosing a tank

The type of tank you should get depends on a number of factors, namely how much room you have, what the water will be used for and how much you’re willing to spend. Bulleen Art & Garden has a large range of polyethylene tanks that come in a range of shapes and sizes. These plastic tanks respond well to bumps, are non-corrosive, and are usually the cheapest to buy. You can also purchase underground tanks, bladders that fit under houses, and concrete tanks.

Melbourne averages approximately 50 mm of rainfall each month, on an average rainy day (4.5 mm of rainfall) a roof of 150m2 will catch 675 litres of water. In order to collect all of this water, your tank will have to be at least this big. During the wetter months of the year, you may not use your tank at all, in this instance the same size roof has the potential to catch more than 7,500 litres over the month.

Tip: To calculate the water that a tank is able to capture off your roof multiply the length by the width of the roof and then multiply this figure by the amount of rainfall over a particular time.

Roof area (m2) = roof length x width

Water captured (litres) = roof area x rainfall over time period

Size

There is no need to go overboard but ‘the bigger, the better’ when it comes to tanks. If your tank holds more water then you are likely to use less reticulated water. As a good rule, your tank should at least hold a 4 week supply of water. If you live in an area where rainfall is frequent then you can get by with a smaller tank. On the flip side, if it doesn’t rain much in your area then a bigger tank is the way to go. If the water is to be used for the garden you should have a minimum of at least 2000 litres. Any smaller than that and it isn’t really worth the effort.

Below is a guide to how far particular sized tanks will go when full.

1700 L rainwater tank

  • 120 metres of Gravity-fed dripline (8 litre per hour drippers) for 30 minutes

  • Hand-held garden hose

  • Pumped sprinkler system for 50 minutes

2250 L rainwater tank

  • 190 metres of Gravity-fed dripline (8 litre per hour drippers) for 30 minutes

  • Hand-held garden hose

  • Pumped sprinkler system for 65 minutes

4500 L rainwater tank

  • 350 metres of Gravity-fed dripline for (8 litre per hour drippers) for 30 minutes

  • Hand-held garden hose

  • Pumped sprinkler system for 130 minutes

For tanks that carry 10,000 litres or more we recommend that you seek the assistance of a qualified staff member or professional consultant to tailor a system to suit your water needs.

Lawn sprinklers can use at least 800 – 1200 litres of water in a week. It is not practical to use tank water to irrigate a lawn unless you have a large tank. Also lawns usually require watering during the driest part of the year when the tank is least likely to be full.

Other Considerations

  • Suitable site: aesthetic, space required, and access to supply from stormwater and overflow drainage point

  • Potential for gravity feed or the need for a pump

  • Installation requirements

  • Stable base

The range of tanks available is ever increasing, systems are available that can go underneath the house or decking, under the ground, become a wall or are ornamental in their own right. If you have looked at installing a tank in the past but found that nothing was suitable, you may find that today’s range might include something that is perfect for you.

Base Preparation

It is very important that the area where the tank is going to be located is level. In most cases it is advisable to lay sand, crushed rock or concrete down as a base. Depending on the company, some tank warranties may be voided if the tank base does not match the those outlined in the installation instructions. So make sure you check the instructions before you install the tank.

Installation

The final stage of actually installing the tank should be carried out by a licensed plumber. You may know what you’re doing, but some warranties may be void if the tank is not installed by a registered plumber, and proof of certification is needed when you apply for the government rebates.

Rebates

At the moment there are a few different rebates offered by the Government. The existing $150 rebate for tanks 600L or more not connected for indoor use still applies. For all of your tank inquiries contact BAAG. We have a huge range of tanks, pumps and fittings and will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding rainwater.

Consultants

Bulleen Art & Garden employ the services of experienced rainwater consultants who can advise you at your home on the installation and suitability of a rainwater system for your garden. Rainwater systems are very site dependent. Our consultant will leave you with knowledgeable advice, a rough plan, discount vouchers and relevant handouts. Please see the consultants section of the website for bookings and costs.

Tank Installation

Plumbing regulations state that drainage and water supply work must be carried out by a licensed plumber. This includes plumbing overflow back into the stormwater system. We can arrange for a plumber to install the tank for you, Click here for bookings.

Permeable Surfaces

When water hits a non-permeable surface it will follow gravity to the lowest point, normally a drain. The water then flows down through the storm water pipes into channels and rivers and streams. In heavy downpours the speed this may occur can be quite rapid causing flash flooding, erosion and great levels of damage. A wide variety of pollutants including oils, fertilisers, pesticides and detergents can be washed into the catchments causing a range of environmental problems. Commonly, toxic blooms arise in our rivers and streams after heavy rain events making them unsafe for the native fauna, pets and humans.

Permeable surfaces, as the name suggests allows water to permeate into the soil. The water filters through the substrate where it is retained in the local hydrological cycle. Plants that may be surrounded by paving and vegetation in the adjacent area can then harvest this water.

Many of the pollutants that normally end up in our catchments can be stopped within the confines of the area. On average the levels of pollutants retarded are:

  • 80% of sediment
  • 60% of phosphorus
  • 80% of nitrogen
  • 70% of heavy metals
  • 98% of oils and greases (when a sand layer is included)

This is achieved not only through mechanical filtration but also through biological processes via microbial decomposition.

The type of material used determines the overall affect of permeable surfaces on water quality. The table below demonstrates.

 

Material Water Quality Effectiveness Installation Cost Maintenance Cost
Conventional Asphalt / Concrete Low Medium Low
Brick (in a loose configuration) Medium High Medium
Natural Stone Medium High Medium
Gravel High Low Medium
Wood Mulch High Low Medium
Cobbles Medium Low Medium

 

Permeable surface options

When installing a permeable surface it is necessary to consider what the area will be used for and overall appearance.

In infrequently used areas, mulches are some of the best materials available. They come in a wide variety of colours and materials. Anything from barks to pebbles are commonly used. These products are normally inexpensive and do not require any special skills to install. Mulches in general are highly permeable but do require moderate levels of maintenance and topping up from time to time.

Crushed rocks and toppings are slightly less permeable than mulches but can be used for driveways and areas that require a slightly more durable surface. These materials do need to be packed down and require the use of a vibrating plate to ensure that a solid base is achieved. These types of surfaces also need to be topped up from time to time.

Permeable pavers are the latest in options when creating a porous surface. They allow water to pass through voids in the pavers and into the substrate below. These may be made from a range of materials including plastic, pebbles or concrete.

Grass pavers are part of the permeable paving range and allow grass to grow within gaps in the paver. The advantage of this type of paver they allow grass to grow in areas of higher traffic than normally possible. Grass pavers are normally made from plastic or concrete and are not visible once the grass has grown.

Concrete or pebble based permeable pavers look very similar to normal non-pervious pavers and can be used in many of the same applications as standard pavers. In most cases, both standard and pervious pavers will be used in the same area to reduce costs while achieving similar levels of filtration. Installation techniques for permeable pavers are very similar to that as traditional pavers, when preparing the substrate the only major difference is that fine free crushed rock should be used to allow for adequate drainage.