Gardening and growing food

Enjoy the many health and wellbeing benefits of gardening at home. Get the right advice to achieve success in growing your own food, selecting indigenous plant species that can thrive in our local climate, caring for your soil and much more.

Grow your own food

Growing your own food at home is a great way to boost your physical and mental wellbeing while reducing food miles and creating connections with your community.

My Smart Garden is a free sustainable gardening program to help you grow food and transform your outdoor space (gardens, balconies or pots) into a beautiful and functional garden.

Learn more about the My Smart Garden program.

Sustainable gardening tips

Whether you have a garden or a balcony, here are some of the different ways you can create a sustainable garden.

Choose climate-resilient plants

With Melbourne expected to experience hotter and drier summers with flash flooding, choose plants that can withstand extreme weather events.

Drought and heat tolerance

Many native Australian plants can be a great option for hot and dry conditions. You'll also be saving water and doing your bit for the environment. Plants with white, grey, bluish-grey or silver foliage or bark are, as a rule, very tolerant of heat and drought.

Flood tolerance

It’s a popular myth that native plants do not enjoy excessive water. However, there are thousands of native Australian plant species that have adapted to damp, boggy soils.

Shade provision

Paved spaces and mulched garden beds absorb and reflect heat, increasing temperatures around your house. Planting leafy shrubs and trees provides shade to keep your home cool and reduces water lost through evaporation.

Boost your soil health

Healthy soil means healthy plants. Whether you’re growing your own food or flowering garden beds, improving soil health will have a big impact on the quality of your plants.

Adding organic matter, like compost, natural wood mulch, leaves and manures, will improve water retention, attract worms, and boost nutrients and microbes.

To learn more about boosting soil health, join our free sustainable gardening program, My Smart Garden.

Care for pollinators and local wildlife

Creating a pollinator-friendly garden can be a fantastic way to support local biodiversity and see your local ecosystem in action.

With pollinator populations globally in decline, planting flowering natives, exotics and herbs is a great way to support them whilst adding colour to your garden.

You can also support and encourage local wildlife to your garden by:

  • Planting dense shrubs to create safe habitat for native birds to nest, forage and socialise.
  • Adding water sources like a bird bath or a small pond.
  • Using rocks or pavers to create a heated pad for skinks and other small reptiles.

Create a waterwise garden

Our changing climate means more water than ever is required in our gardens to combat the hotter, drier weather. Waterwise gardens are designed to use this most precious resource more efficiently.

Here’s how you can create your own at home:

  • Install a rainwater tank or downpipe diverter to use stormwater run-off to water your garden. It will also reduce the strain on the stormwater drainage system and the risk of localised flooding.
  • Greywater is water from your washing machine, shower or kitchen and can be put to use in your garden. It’s available year-round, the average home generates more than is needed to water the entire garden and it would otherwise be a waste item.
  • Adding organic matter to your soil increases its capacity to retain water, reduces the risk of flash flooding and filters stormwater prior to it entering our waterways. Using mulch on top of your soil prevents it from drying out and increases water retention.
  • You can also conserve water by choosing drought-tolerant plants, watering in the evening, avoiding over-watering, using drip irrigation and installing wicking beds.

Find out more about creating a waterwise garden with My Smart Garden.

Sustainable gardening resources

Looking for more? Here are some of our favourite resources to help you create your sustainable garden.

My Smart Garden

Visit the My Smart Garden website to browse a library of resources including recordings of past events.

Sustainable Gardening in Stonnington

Read our Sustainable Gardening in Stonnington(PDF, 8MB) guide for tips on how to create your own sustainable garden.

Which Plant Where

Visit Which Plant Where, a free resource created by universities which includes information on which horticultural species will survive and thrive in Australian urban landscapes now and into a climate-changed future. You can search at the local post-code level.

Sustainable Gardening Australia

Visit the Sustainable Gardening Australia website for inspiration on sustainable garden designs.

Stonnington Home Harvest

Check out our Stonnington Home Harvest(PDF, 6MB) booklet for advice on planning, planting and maintaining your home food garden.

Indigenous Plant Use

View the Indigenous Plant Use booklet created by Barkandji woman Zena Cumpston. The booklet includes information on indigenous plant species and their cultural, nutritional, technological and medicinal use. You'll also find plant labels that you can print and use in your own garden.

Native planting video

Hear from our very own horticultural team in this handy native planting video. You'll learn tips on how to care for native plants in your garden to support local pollinators and birds.