How to Re-wild your Suburban Garden

Mel’s Instagram page @rewildingsurbia is full of the most amazing photos and videos of native bees and other creatures that come to visit and live in her suburban garden in Lake Coogee in the south of Perth. Mel shares with her thousands of followers how she transformed her verge from mostly lawn to a thriving native garden paradise. 

Mel was in her veggie patch one day when she first spotted a native male Leioproctus bee roosting  and discovered females nesting in her veggie garden. This inspired her to dig up her front verge of grass and replant it with native species.  

Converting her 78 m2 verge from grass to natives was a slow process as the grass runners were still able to grow through the mulch that was laid after the grass was dug up. Mel ended up placing cardboard around her newly planted natives to shade out the runners. Once the native plants took over, it become a haven for many species, especially native bees including blue banded bees, leaf cutter bees, resin bees, reed bees, cuckoo bees and Lasioglossum species.

Mel in her transformed verge
The verge before the transformation

Mel’s front garden is a productive food forest inspired by her Italian heritage with many raised garden beds full of flowers and abundant vegetables, complete with worm farms, a large bee hotel and compost bins. In among the vegetables and fruit are companion plants such as native straw flowers, marigolds and sunflowers, all which attract a range of pollinators like butterflies, bees and ladybugs.

Raised vegetable garden beds
Habitat garden

In the back yard is a dedicated habitat garden featuring logs and more native plants, bee hotels and bare earth for burrowing insects as well as bird baths. Logs are great for all sorts of creatures like lizards as they provide shelter from the sun and predators. Mel also encourages cavity nesting native bees by drilling holes in these logs. Different species of bees like different sized holes so best to have a range of sizes (between 2 and 8mm) to accommodate different species. Larger insects and wasps will nest in larger holes if you prefer an insect hotel. Having a water source such as bird baths is important for insects and birds during the heat of summer. Small ponds with water plants will attract dragonflies and even frogs if you are lucky. The gardens have an amazing ecosystem now due to not using pesticides but letting natural predators such as wasps and spiders keep it in balance.

Blue banded bees roosting
Lasioglossum sp
Mel’s top tips to encourage bio-diversity into your backyard:

– Create natural habitats with logs, rocks and leaf litter

– Plant native plants to encourage native insects and animals

– To encourage native bees install a bee hotel and leave patches of bare sand (without manure, composts or mulch) for ground nesting bees

– Don’t be in a rush to remove unwanted insects and avoid using sprays and let natural predators come to your rescue

Resin bee creating a nest in a bamboo post

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Lisa Edwards

Founding Director

Lisa Bio

Our Founder

Lisa is an Environmental Scientist who has worked for 20 years primarily managing Threatened Species and Communities in Western Australia. She has also helped manage the planting of 4.2 million trees in WA’s Wheatbelt to help tackle salinity, biodiversity loss and climate change. 

Her time at Western Power gave her a thorough understanding of our amazing biodiversity and urban ecology and it also inspired her to find ways to support what we have and help halt the decline.

Lisa started WA Loves Nature, a not for profit organisation, with Leanne Salter Jones, so that they could showcase our amazing urban biodiversity and inspire and educate people on ways to support it. To achieve this they developed urban nature trails that show existing biodiversity as well as highlight it through the use of street art, murals and sculpture. The trails are bought to life with the WA Loves Nature’s App that features augmented reality, videos and sound.

Their mission is to have a nature trail in all West Australian metropolitan areas and country towns.

Lisa’s key skills include:

  • Urban ecology and its management
  • Threatened species management
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Community education
  • Communication