Landcare is a non-governmental community movement dedicated to preventing land degradation and achieving sustainable land management. It consists of a network of local volunteer groups of which there are over 1700 in New South Wales alone. Each group works to find local solutions to local problems such as salinity, soil degradation, animal pests, weeds, vegetation loss, waterside erosion, poor water quality, coastal degradation and urban land degradation. If you appreciate how lucky we are in the Helensburgh district to enjoy a relatively unspoiled bush environment you should also be aware that it is under serious threat. read more

Monday, 31 October 2022

Creating a Bush Friendly Backyard


Creating a Bush Friendly Backyard



Why a Bush Friendly Backyard!


Low impact on the environment – less water, fertiliser, pesticide, construction.

Provides a refuge for local wildlife for nesting, resting and feeding.

It can be low maintenance, freeing you up for other pursuits!

It is your contribution to protecting our biodiversity.

 1. What have you got?  Site analysis….


Sketch out what already exists in your garden using grid paper.

Identify aspect N/S, sun, shade, topography, soil type, rainfall, drainage, runoff, structures, vegetation, views, sight lines, neighbours-buildings/trees.

Establish what wildlife is using your garden, including resident, migratory, native and introduced species and their movements throughout the year.


2. What do you want?  Assess your needs


What you want and what you need can often be two different things!

Who uses the garden and who’ll be maintaining it!

Family use, extra living space, social, privacy.

High or low maintenance garden?

Type of garden – ornamental, structured, wild.

Attracting wildlife into your garden, providing a habitat link with bushland.


3. How to get it!  Planning & Design


Constraints – budget, space, time – if removing all vegetation at once some animals may die during removal or may not return – consider staged works making your plan flexible.


Access – pathways, tracks, driveways – straight or meandering.


Materials – consider infiltration, sourcing, availability; retain all natural features that exist in your garden.


Plants for your site – introduced, native and local species.

Plan to renovate your garden while maintaining habitat for existing wildlife.


Designing for wildlife – nesting, resting and feeding sites. Try to provide year round flowering & fruiting, safe havens of dense vegetation, dips, hollows, rocks & logs.

Tips for getting started


Every action has a reaction!



  • More than likely that overgrown unsightly corner in your backyard is home to a variety of local minibeasts. Observe your garden for at least a year before undertaking work.


  • Outsmart weeds – get to know your weeds, flowering and seeding times, fibrous or tap root, woody or herbaceous habit – then you can use the most effective method to control them.


  • Attracting wildlife – provide a range of habitats that attract a variety of wildlife, incorporate upperstorey, midstorey and groundcover vegetation layers into your garden. Plant clumps of dense shrubs and if you have room – plant trees to create aerial corridors.


  • Plant non-nectar, insect pollinated plants such as wattles, native peas and tea-trees to encourage smaller, insect eating birds.


  • Retain where possible all natural features – branches, twigs, mulch and rocks.


  • Compost all your weeds & trimmings under black plastic.


  • Find out about your local wildlife and the natural habitat of these species.


  • Plant or install alternative habitat. Wait for plantings to flower and fruit then gradually remove (over the years) the habitat unwanted by you. Observe how the tenants are responding.


  • Where territorial birds such as Currawongs & Noisy Miners are a problem, restrict the number of fruit bearing plants (berries such as Blueberry Ash) and heavy nectar bearers (hybrid Grevilleas).


  • Provide clean, constant water to increase bird species to your garden.


  • Nest boxes may attract possums and hollow nesting birds. Placing them up high and away from your home will limit nocturnal disturbances.


  • Try to be patient and remind yourself of the important role you are playing in maintaining Australia’s biodiversity.


  • And remember it may look like a mess but in essence it’s valuable wildlife habitat!




(Adapted from “Creating a Bush Friendly Backyard” Willoughby City Council) 

Monday, 6 December 2021

BE WEED WISE - Coolatai grass

 Coolatai grass, Hyparrhenia hirta


It is just over 12 months ago that I first became aware of Coolatai grass. My daughter asked me if the grass growing below the netball courts on the bike track was Coolatai grass. I took photos and asked the Illawarra District Weeds Authority for confirmation. Unfortunately, it was. I subsequently found out that it was already growing in the old rubbish tip area and the IDWA had been spraying it with herbicide once a year. In October last year, they included some of the bike track outbreak in their spraying visit. Unfortunately, once a year spraying is not going to remove it. The Helensburgh Off Road Cycle Club has had a few working bees to try to tackle the problem.

Coolatai grass is a long-lived perennial that produces short rhizomes that form dense grass tussocks and grow to 1.5 m. Being drought tolerant, it has the ability to rapidly respond to rain, producing new culms from the tussock base and flowering in a matter of weeks. It is well adapted to fire, with tussocks surviving hot burns.


I believe it has been spread into Helensburgh by trucks and machinery. As well as the old tip and the bike track, I have this year noticed it growing along the roadside in Walker Street, opposite Cemetery Road. Unfortunately, it was disturbed during the 2021 re-surfacing of the top part of Walker Street, and there is every chance that it will continue to spread along Walker Street.


If you see Coolatai grass growing on your property, please remove it before it flowers and sets seed. You could also report it to David Pomery at dpomery@isjo.org.au


For more information: https://weeds.dpi.nsw.gov.au/Weeds/Details/179




Tuesday, 20 July 2021

BE WEEDWISE - Canna lily

Canna lily (Canna indica, Canna x generalis)


Canna lily is native to tropical America. It is considered an environmental weed in many areas of eastern and south-eastern Australia. It is also a problem on many Pacific islands, New Zealand and southern USA. It forms large dense clumps, particularly along waterways, and replaces native aquatic and wetland species.

It is a large, long-lived, herbaceous plant growing up to 2 m tall and spreading laterally by means of fleshy underground stems (i.e. rhizomes). Canna lily can flower from spring to autumn. Flowers are orange, yellow or red.

Dispersal: Seed and rhizomes spread by water, humans, contaminated soil (earthmoving equipment, car tyres etc) and garden refuse dumping.

Control option: Dig out clumps ensuring all the rhizomes are removed. If you wish to grow this plant in your garden, please remove spent flowers before seeds form and do not dump seeds or rhizomes in local bushland.


Grow Me Instead

Gymea lily - Doryanthes excelsa. A local native plant which thrives in poor sandy soils and full sun or partial shade. The red trumpet-like flowers are borne in a terminal head 300 mm in diameter on a leafy flowering stem 2–4 m high.

Swamp lily - Crinum pedunculatumThis Australian native plant has rosettes of broad leaves and clusters of white, highly fragrant, flowers on 1m stems. Suits any soil, full sun or dappled shade and is mildly frost tolerant, it also grows well near ponds.

Day lilies - Hemerocallis species and hybrids. Day lilies have generous clumps of strappy leaves, and tall flower stems with double or single flowers in a wide range of colours.









Tuesday, 20 April 2021

BE WEED WISE, Mother of millions

Mother of millions, Bryophyllum delagoense

Mother-of-millions is native to Madagascar. It is an erect, smooth, fleshy succulent plant growing to 1 m or more in height. Its mottled leaves are cylindrical and have a few small 'teeth' near their tips. Tiny plantlets are produced at the tips of its leaves. The drooping bell-shaped flowers (2-4 cm long) are usually red or reddish-pink in colour. These flowers are borne in dense clusters at the top of the stems. The fruits contain many seeds.

Bryophyllum delagoense

Mother-of-millions is commonly spread by gardeners and in garden waste. The plantlets at the end of the leaves drop readily, develop roots and establish quickly to form a new colony. Broken leaf parts can also take root and give rise to new plants. The tiny seeds are probably wind and water dispersed. 

Hand remove plants carefully, loosening the soil with a knife or trowel. Ensure all pieces are removed and disposed of in your FOGO bin.

For additional information, see NSW WeedWise


Grow Me Instead

Leek lily (Bulbine bulbosa): An Australian native plant, leek lily is an attractive species with fragrant yellow flowers, suited to rockeries and cottage gardens.

Blue Mexican hen and chicks (Echeveria glauca): A hardy, low growing Echeveria with orange/yellow flowers.

Mexican firecracker (Echeveria setosa): A lovely clump forming evergreen ground cover succulent with spoon shaped leaves covered in soft grey hairs to 10cm tall. It produces yellow-orange flowers through the summer months.

Monday, 5 April 2021

BE WEED WISE Dietes, Butterfly iris

 Dietes spp., butterfly iris, or just dietes

Dietes is in the Iris family. It is native to eastern and southern Africa. Dietes has recently been appearing in bushland in south-eastern Australia. Unfortunately, it still seems to be commonly planted by Local Government Councils and in other public plantings.

Plants consist of clumps of erect sword-shaped leaves, with short-lived, iris-like flowers that are white, yellow and mauve. The flowers are followed by green, three-celled capsule containing numerous hard angular seeds.

Dietes is spread by seed via water, humans, contaminated soil (earthmoving equipment, car tyres, etc) and garden refuse dumping.

Please remove spent flowers to stop seeds developing. Remove any seed-heads, and place any seed-heads or plant roots/rhizomes in your green waste (FOGO) bin, or if you don't have a FOGO (Food Organics Green Organics) bin, place them in your rubbish bin.


Grow Me Instead

Grass flag (Libertia paniculata

Australian native which forms a grass like clump with masses of white flowers in spring, for moist, semi-shaded positions.

Blue flax lily (Dianella spp.) 

Flax lily is native to Australia and many of the garden cultivars stem from four of the native strains. The richly-hued blue flowers with delicate yellow anthers perch like chandeliers on the end of wiry stems and contrast well with the long linear form of the leathery leaves.

Kangaroo paws (Anigozanthus species and varieties.)

Kangaroo paws originate in Western Australia. They have clumps of strappy leaves. The different varieties vary in colour, height and hardiness in our area.



BE WEED WISE, Blue periwinkle

Blue periwinkle, Vinca major

Blue periwinkle is an example of a garden plant that has ‘jumped the garden fence’. It is now considered an invasive species, not just in wetter areas of Australia, but in New Zealand and North America (USA and Canada).

It is a trailing herb with a woody crown and runners up to 1 m long. The stems sometimes develop roots where they come into contact with the soil, and creeping underground stems are also produced. It has blue to purple tubular flowers (3-6 cm across) which are usually borne singly in the upper leaf forks.

Blue periwinkle’s broad-leaved runners form a dense mat, shading out native plants and competing for moisture and nutrients. Its growth is particularly vigorous in riparian and other moist habitats.

It is spread into bushland mostly by dumping of garden waste, but can also spread by broken stem bits being washed into a new area. It occasionally spreads by seed.

Digging every little bit out is the most effective way of removing it. Follow up will be required for some time.


Grow Me Instead

 species, fan flower: An Australian native groundcover with prolific flowering of mauve, purple or white flowers.

Hardenbergia violacea, Native sarsaparilla: The pea shape flowers appear in winter and spring and are usually violet in colour.

Convolvulus sabatius
, Moroccan glory vine: An attractive evergreen perennial with a spreading prostrate habit with blue to violet flowers.

Saturday, 20 March 2021


 Moth vine, (Araujia sericifera)

Moth vine comes from South America. It has attractive white flowers which are followed by a fruit which is often mistaken for a choko. The fruit has pale, dull green skin which dries out and splits to reveal numerous seeds which are black with a tuft of white hairs 2-3 cm long. Moth vine is fairly common in gardens and neighbouring bushland and weedy areas around Helensburgh.
It is an invader of bushland as the seed is dispersed by wind and water. It climbs through vegetation and the heavy weight of fruiting vines can break limbs and bring down weaker shrubs and trees. Dense growth smothers smaller vegetation and impedes over-storey regeneration.

Where moth vine is climbing up through garden plants, it is best to remove any fruit and then cut the stem near the ground. Dig out the roots. Seedlings and small plants can be hand-pulled or dug out. 

Moth vine’s latex can be highly irritating and allergenic. Always wear gloves when handling plants and avoid getting latex in the eyes or mouth.


Grow Me Instead

Wonga wonga vine, Pandorea pandorana

This is a vigorous Australian native twining plant. One of the selected colour forms is ‘Snowbells’ which has pure white flowers.


Old man’s beard, Clematis aristata

A local native vine which flowers in spring, this species is most attractive with its masses of creamy white flowers.


Chinese star jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides

A hardy climber or ground cover plant with perfumed white flowers in spring. Apparently, its irritating, milky latex-like sap makes it resistant to the depredations of Australian possums.