Nature is open for business

Image of bee on flower

Photo credit: Ian Moodie

We are all changing the way we live our lives at the moment but one thing that doesn’t change is our connection to nature. In fact with many of us at home during this challenging time, we have a chance to spend more time in our gardens, slow down and take time to notice the amazing nature and wildlife around us.

There are lots of ways for you to be involved with nature while you are at home. Although we can’t hold our Council community planting and family nature events, we have thought about ways for you to still be involved in habitat improvement and nature activities from home.

We hope these lead to many hours of enjoyment as you get to know more about our natural world in the urban environment. 

Quick links:

Native bees and seeds kits

Please note: There is no stock left of the bee house kits or the seeds kits at this time. We will update this page should more become available. 

Join with many other households for our big seed raising and bee house making projects and together we can make a real difference to the lives of our native Australian bees and other local wildlife.

Seeds to habitat kit program

Would you like to be part of a big local native seed growing program? We are making up seed growing kits so everyone can be involved in growing our next generation of local native (indigenous) plants. Some very special seeds have been collected from our Monash bushland reserves and we would like your help to grow them into seedlings. Once ready, these seedlings can be either planted in your own garden or in one of our reserves as part of a big communal planting day (once we are safe to get together again).

The kit will be delivered to your door for free and will contain two packs of special indigenous plant seeds, a seed raising pot, potting mix, and pots to replant once the seeds are ready for a bigger pot. You can order both this and the bee house kit together if you choose. Instructions will be included.

Bee house kit program

There are about 1,700 different types of native Australian bees, many of which are struggling to survive in our urban environment. You can help by making a native bee house with our free bee house kit. All you need is a clean tin can and we supply you with the rest to make your very own bee house. We will also give you everything you need to make a seed bomb to grow flowers in your garden that the bees will love. Instructions will be included.

The kit will be delivered free to your door. You can order both this and the seed to habitat kit together if you choose.

Find information about Australian Native bees and how to identify them here: 

Identify and record your wildlife observations

There many great apps which make identifying wildlife really easy. You can see what you can find in your own garden or when you are out in the local area during your exercise break. Have a go with these ones, you’ll be an expert before you know it!

  • Melbourne Water frog census: Record a frog call and add it to data collection for frog research. It has frog call recordings for easy identification.
  • Birdlife Australia Aussie Birdcount: Walks you through how to identify every bird you see.
  • iNaturalist: Take a photo of any plant or animal and the program and other experts make suggestions for what species they think it is.
  • Museums Victoria Fauna App: Combines animal descriptions with photos, as well as animal calls, distribution maps, conservation status, butterfly flight times, frog calling times and depth information for marine species.

Compost and worm farms with free delivery to your door

Now is a great time to start up or renew a compost or worm farm. Composting your fruit and veggie scraps is an easy and effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save landfill and produce beautiful compost for your veggie garden.

Council offers great subsidised compost bins and worm farms (at 70% off) through the Circular Food program, with free delivery to your door.

Get yours now: Circular Food website

Gardens for Wildlife Program

The Monash Gardens for Wildlife booklet is a useful booklet for those wishing to find out what they can do in their own garden to encourage wildlife. There are many examples of local native plants to support the original vegetation in the Monash area.

Download the booklet here: Gardens for Wildlife booklet

Here are some habitat features you could add to your own garden:

Bird bath

On hot days birds will be looking for water sources to keep them hydrated. It’s super easy to set one or two up, just a shallow dish in the shade will do. If you have a deeper bowl, place some rocks or sticks in it so smaller birds can safely find their way out.

Birds especially like elevated baths, preferably next to a bush where little birds can feel safe from predators. You could even try hanging one from a branch. Then sit back and enjoy the splash and colour as grateful birds visit your pop-up water source.

More information: The secret world of bird baths

Frog pond

There are 16 frog species in Victoria and many are under threat due to loss of wetlands. You can help frogs survive in the urban environment by building them a pond in a shady/sunny part of your garden.

You can easily buy a pre-made pond and set it up in just one day. Frogs eat insects like mozzies, so they are great friends to have in your garden on summer nights, and you can enjoy their calls through the day and night.

More information: Frog ponds

Native bee house

Australia has over 1,700 different types of native bees looking for places to live! They are small, cute and help pollinate our Australian plants.

As we have lost a lot of our plants and bushland in our city, native bees don’t have anywhere to live. You can help by hanging a bee hotel in your garden. They are fun and easy to make and you’ll enjoy seeing bees using their new digs.   

Watch these Gardening Australia videos for tips: 

How to make a bee hotel suitable for a range of different native bees

Make a native bee hotel and attract native bees into your garden

Create a skink lounge

Lizards, skinks and geckos are fantastic animals to attract to your garden. They are fun to watch and love to eat insect pests. Sadly, urban lizard populations are on the decline due to the loss of lizard-friendly habitats.

Creating a lizard lounge in your garden will help encourage and protect these gentle, valuable creatures. 

All you need is a small area with some rocks so they can warm their bellies in the sun, some bits of wood stacked around the rocks, and nearby grasses and shrubs for them to hide in.

Read this handy factsheet for how to set one up: Lizard Lounge factsheet 

Nest boxes

Lots of Australian birds and other native wildlife require nesting hollows to live in. Hollows usually only form once a tree is older than 100 years. As we have lost a lot of our big old trees in our urban environment there is a huge shortage of hollows for animals to live in. You can help by providing a nest box in your tree which is especially designed for different animals, for example sugar gliders, microbats, or parrots.

You can make your own or buy one pre-made.

More information on types of nestboxes and where to locate them on a tree: Nest boxes

If you'd like to buy a nest box you can search online for providers who make a range of boxes for different species.

To build your own, go to the Wires website or the Birds in Backyards website

Vegetable gardening

Now is a great time to start a vegetable patch in your garden or even on your balcony.

There is heaps of information at these links to help you get started:

Keeping chickens

Chickens can be great fun to have in your garden. They eat pest insects, create manure to add to your compost, lay yummy eggs, and eat lots of your kitchen food scraps helping to reduce landfill.

You need to think about adequate housing, nesting, and fencing, ensure they have enough space for the number and breed of chickens, access to clean food and water. Council Local Law allows you to have up to five poultry birds (no roosters).

Find out more here: How to keep backyard chickens healthy and happy

To ensure you are keeping your chickens and your family safe, please see more information here: Keeping backyard chickens

Other activities and competitions

Wild by Nature Film Competition

We want to hear why you love nature! Submit a film that highlights the amazing local nature we have in Victoria, or explores why nature is so good for us and what we can do to care for it. Three age categories with prizes up to $3,000 cash.

Submissions close Sunday 31 May 2020. 

Find out more: Wild by Nature competition

What's in Your Backyard Photo Competition

Grab a camera and snap photos of the plants and animals in your backyard. Can you find lizards, insects, bees and butterflies? Are you growing a yummy vegetable or herb garden in your backyard? What about a favourite tree that provides habitat for native birds? Do you have beautiful flowers that bees like to visit?

Take a photo, tell us what's in your backyard and why it’s important to you.

Submissions close Friday 1 May 2020. 

Find out more: What's in your backyard?

Other activities you can do at home with your family

Download this CERES booklet to find out what other activities you can do at home with your family: 10 sustainability activities you can do at home

Participate in the Birds in Backyards Autumn survey. Includes some great resources to keep the kids busy. Find out more here: Birding at Home

More information

For more information, contact our Sustainable Monash team at: sustainability@monash.vic.gov.au

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Last updated: 07 July 2020