Putting Nature Into Nature Strips

Putting “nature” into nature strips - Irene's Story

I love a garden project! It was Autumn, time to plant. The ugly, weed infested nature strip outside our house, which held no natural appeal for humans or wildlife, provided me with “the” project and another opportunity to garden for wildlife.


This was typical of my strip before replanting, but also had lots of paspalum in the mix of compacted earth, prolific nut grass and abundant flat weeds.

My weedy and compacted strip

Weeds up close

Getting started

Microleana stipoides, Weeping Grass, and Danthonia sp., Wallaby grasses, are good native lawn alternatives and once established can be mowed as with any of the popular introduced lawn species. These lawns become drought tolerant once established and importantly provide habitat for wildlife.

However, I used Danthonia penicillata and Danthonia racemosa as they spread from my garden and seed into the Lilydale topping driveway. They were free, prolific seeders and must be tough to get a foot hold there. I divided the nature strip into two sections and established the lawn over two autumn/winter planting periods.

Preparation was zilch. I just dug out the weeds gradually, using a hand held pick, filling that spot with the recruited Wallaby grass seedlings as they became available, then lightly mulched around them. The spacing of grasses was dictated by the seedlings available to me. I interspersed Dichondra repens, Kidney Weed, between some of the grasses as it is thought it could provide a nurturing moist haven for any grass seed that fell and increase the chances of survival till germination.

As you can see in the picture typically the grasses available to me were very small but they coped well even in dry weather. As well, within 24 hours of one planting there was a deluge of rain – about 80ml in that event - and I ran out next morning expecting to have to retrieve the smaller grasses from the gutter, but no they stood their ground to that too.

Newly planted Wallaby Grass seedlings


I did not cut any grasses back in the first year until after they had set seed in the expectation that seedlings might emerge to fill in any gaps and even out the lawn. In nature some of these gaps would be occupied by wildflowers, lilies and orchids. Once the lawn is established mow prior to seed set if you want to prevent seeding into unwanted places.

However, my initial cut, using hand held grass clippers, was a light trim only to get rid of the dry seed stalks just prior to the hotter drier period in late summer. We generally maintain our lawn by mowing on a higher setting a couple of times a year as we love the green swathe and swaying seed heads.

Although the lawn does dry off in extended hot dry summer conditions it greens up almost overnight with just the lightest rainfall.

Natural gaps

Before infill planting

Bulbine Lily - Bulbine bulbosa

A wildflower that loves growing between the gaps.

Kidney Weed -Dichondra repens

Planted amongst grasses as “nursery” for seeds that fall.


The project was remarkably easy to achieve, with just some doable manual work over a couple of years that resulted in a flourishing drought tolerant and wildlife friendly nature strip.

Two years later

Allowing grass to seed before cutting

Welcome nature back to the nature strip.

Oh no surprise - I have now replaced the back “lawn” 

Happy gardening!

Written by Irene Kelly

October 2017