Thinking of planting out your garden?

Here are some things you should know...

Our gardens are a vital part of our lifestyle.  They contribute to our well-being by providing aesthetically pleasing and functional environments for our families. A garden can add to your life by attracting birds and other animals. Plants can screen unattractive views and give privacy.  Trees can provide shade and cool our homes.

Traditionally, Darwin gardens have consumed vast amounts of water to maintain exotic palms, shrubs, ground covers and specifically lawns. There are ways however, that you can still have an aesthetically pleasing garden and use less water.  You just need to follow a set of basic principles:

  • select water wise plants,
  • reduce lawn areas,
  • mulch garden beds, and
  •  adopt water wise watering practices.

These points all help to reduce the overall water demand of the garden. There are both native and exotic species that can be used to provide virtually any style of garden that is desired and still be water efficient.

Remember that no garden is maintenance free

All gardens require some level of regular maintenance and watering.  Once plants are established many can survive on little or reduced amounts of watering.  Initially however all plants require regular watering to become established. Make sure you schedule your irrigation to regularly water new plants, but don’t forget that you can scale this back once your plant or tree is established.


Plants and lawns that are planted into well prepared soil will be hardier and perform better than plants planted in poor quality compacted soils.  Most soils in Darwin are shallow and lack organic matter.  Some ideas to help your soil are:

  • Organic matter in the form of compost or aged animal manure can be dug into your soil to improve its nutrition and water holding capacity.
  • Dig gypsum and blood and bone in to your soil to prepare your soil ready for your new garden. 

Remember that when choosing large trees you need to consider the behaviour of their root systems.  Do they need deep soil so that they are stable in high winds?  Many areas in the Darwin region have only 0.5 to 1.5 metres of soil sitting on top of rock.  This means that trees that require deep root systems become unstable as the root system fans out once they hit rock, rather than reach deep down into the soil becoming an anchor for the heavy height of the tree.  This can cause the tree to become a dangerous hazard during a cyclone or monsoon storm. 

Choose a water smart garden

A water smart garden offers many benefits such as;

  1. Reduced maintenance (less lawn to water and mow).  You may even decide to eliminate lawn altogether and this will mean no regular lawn mowing or watering. Water smart gardens usually don't have many high maintenance palms that regularly drop leaves that need collecting and disposing of.
  2. Cost savings as water and energy bills are reduced. You can reduce the heat around your home by planting trees, shrubs and ground covers as they will provide direct shade to your home.   Furthermore, when water evaporates leaf surfaces further cooling will occur.  
  3. Habitat creation for native birds and animals. Planting native plants is a great way to assist with biodiversity as they can create an ecosystem to provide habitat and food for local birds and other animals.

Plus, you can be satisfied that you are helping Darwin save water, a precious resource that we all need to look after.

Don't forget site services

Prior to commencing any planting, you need to consider the location of your site services (such as electricity, water sewerage, communication cables and drainage) by arranging a Dial Before You Dig service.

And don’t forget your solar panels.  Consider where they are located and avoid shading them with tall trees and palms.  It’s a good idea however to shade air conditioning units as it helps them operate more efficiently.