Home' Homes : Homes 2011 Contents 108 Scoop Publishing | WA’s Best Homes & Design 2011/12
While native gardens are all the go because
of their low water use, it’s not just a matter
of grabbing a bunch of native plants and
sticking them in the ground. It’s important
to buy them from local sources so they haven’t
racked up carbon miles and choose plants
suitable for your type of soil.
But native gardens aren’t the only sustainable
option and in some cases, edible plants can be a
better use of garden space.
While it’s not realistic to think we can all
become self-sustaining, the more we grow in
our yards the more we take the pressure off the
And what about introducing some chooks?
They’re the cornerstone of recycling and
self-sufficiency in the backyard.
It’s a great cycle. You eat the vegetables,
give the leftovers to the chickens, the manure
from the chook pen goes into compost and the
compost goes back into the vegie garden.
But whatever you’re planting, the key to
success and sustainability is the soil, which
needs to be rich in organic matter to retain
moisture for plants. Soil improvers, soil wetting
agents and mulches can be added to increase
water and nutrient-holding capabilities.
And when choosing materials for your outdoor
space, look for local or recycled products.
Locally sourced materials not only have low
carbon miles, they also look authentic in our
environment. For example, limestone looks and
feels right in Fremantle, while laterite looks and
feels right in the Perth Hills.
The right angle
Correct orientation for passive solar design helps keep
the temperature comfortable with minimal heating or
cooling. This means lower energy bills.
Ideally, the home should face north, with most
windows positioned to collect the low-angled winter
sun and keep out the high-angled summer sun. In
particular, living areas should be facing north, resulting
in solar gain in winter.
Doors and windows should be placed to
capture cooling breezes in summer. Correct orientation
is most easily achieved when the block faces north-
south, but with extra design work, it can be achieved on
“Native gardens aren’t
the only sustainable
option and in some
cases, edible plants can
be a better use of garden
space. Introduce some
chickens – they’re the
cornerstone of recycling”
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