Gardening is one of life’s simple pleasures. But for some 2 million Australians who suffer from hay fever or seasonal allergies, having a green thumb means suffering from symptoms like a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes.

Allergens, such as pollen and molds peak in the warm weather months, allergies shouldn’t keep you away from the pleasures of allergy-free gardening. Knowing what type of plants and trees are most likely to trigger allergies and planning gardening time strategically can help reduce sneezing and wheezing caused by seasonal allergies.

Some people may be irritated by flowers that release a strong scent, but that type of reaction is not related to pollen or seasonal allergies and is caused by a reaction to the oils the blossom contains.

Not withholding details like taste preferences sentimental values, I would like to give you some pointers when selecting plants for your garden. But the biggest thing you can do to help yourself enjoy the garden is to plant wisely.

The first pointer I would suggest is to cut down on the size of your lawn. It is your biggest enemy when it comes to pollen. Consider using other options such as groundcovers, hard surfacing, or large islands of mulch and pathways that reduce the amount of turf.

My second pointer is to switch to native plants where possible. They are low maintenance plants that are used to the hard conditions of Australian weather.

If you are a really sucker for colours and flowers, choose plants with big, showy flowers; the bigger the flower, the bigger the pollen. Big pollen doesn’t passes through our nasal passages as easily as fine pollen does. Good choices include many beloved spring bulbs.

My fourth pointer is to avoid plants with homely little flowers in brown and green. In the garden, homely plain flowers are bad news. These are wind-pollinated and are the main cause of your misery. If you’ve ever gone too long without mowing the lawn you’ll see what I mean. Grass has a flower. It looks like threads and dots in brownish green, well that’s plain misery. Keep that lawn mowed if you must keep it at all. And watch for weeds that have similar blooming types.

Enough with the negatives, below is a list of plants that are good for Asthmatics, these are usually insect-pollinated, or sterile and usually propagated by cuttings or grafting:

HERBS- Basil, Chives, Dill, Fennel, Horseradish, Marjoram, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme. AVOID Chamomile and Wormwood

GROUND COVERS-Canterbury Bells, Juniper, Kidney Weed, Native Violet, Pratia, Rosemary, Rose Baeckia, Snow in Summer, Tea tree, Thyme

GRASSES- Buffalo Grass, Greenless Couch Grass, Kangaroo Grass, Rice or Weeping Grass.

FLOWERS- Alyssum, Anemone, Banksia Rose, Begonia, Climbing Rose, Coleus, Columbine, Cornflower, Floss Flowers, Foxglove, Glossy Abelia, Impatiens, Larkspur, Lobelia, Nasturtium, Nemesia, Pansy, Petunia, Phiox, Rosemary, Snapdragon, Verbena, Viola, Bulbs (daffodil). AVOID-Asteraceae family of daisies including Chrysanthemum, Calendulas, Marigolds

CLIMBERS- Applyberry, Chilean Jasmine, Dusky Coral Pea, Ivy Leaf Geranium, Kiwi Fruit, Passionfruit, Star Jasmine, Trumpet Vine, Wonga Vine, Crimson Passionflower.

SHRUBS- Azalea, Banksia, Bottlebrush, California Lilac, Callistemon, Camellia, Cistus, Dog rose, Escallonia, Flax, Gardenia, Guinea Flower, Kunzea, Lavender, Leptopspermum, Melaleuca, Myrtle, Plumbago, Rosa Species, Rhododendron, Silky Tea Tree, Twiggy heath, Weigelia, Westringia, White Correa Yucca Salvia, Bracelet Honey Myrtle, Common White heath

TREES-Bay Laurel, Cabbage Palm, Lillypilly, Citrus species, Coastal Banksia, Orchid Tree, Flowering Crab Apple, Willow Myrtle Silky Oak, Male Gingko biloba, Old Man Banksia, Paperbark, Most Prunus species, Scribbly Gum, Tupelo, Silver Princess Gum, Peppermint Gum.

PLANTS TO AVOID- Clematis, Common Ivy, English Ivy, Some Grevilleas, Poinsettia, Polyanthus, Primrose, Primula, Rhus tree, Alder, Ash, Birch, Cypress, Elm, Hazel, Liquidambar, Maple, Mulberry, Olive, Orchid Tree, Privet, Walnut, White Cedar, Willow, She-Oak (Male only)

Remember that good control of your asthma and allergies at all times will lessen the impact of any exposures. The above is only indicative and you should check with your doctor that you are receiveing optimal preventative management for your hayfever.

Posted in Asthma, Complying development, DA issues, Development Control Plan, Development application, Gardening Tips, Hayfever, Landscape Architecture, Landscape Design, Local Environmental Plan, Pest Control, Swimming pool, common gardening problems, disease | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Landscape Architects in Sydney: Local Environmental Plan

Local environmental plans (LEPs) guide planning decisions for local government areas. Through zoning and development controls, they allow councils and other consent authorities to manage the ways in which land is used. LEPs are the primary planning tool to shape the future of communities.

On 31 March 2006, the NSW Government gazetted a standard instrument for preparing new LEPs, also known the LEP template. Local plans across NSW will now use the same planning language, making it easier for communities to understand what is proposed for their local area. Councils are able to include localised planning objectives and provisions specific to their area, as well as determine zoning, additional land uses, heritage items, and development standards such as height and minimum lot sizes.

The primary objective of the amending order is to improve the efficiency of delivery of standard LEPs and it aims to:
• clarify the intention of zones through new and amended directions, objectives, mandatory land uses, and the renaming of the RU4 zone
• update clauses to conform with changes in legislation including the Heritage Act, and State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs) made subsequent to the SI order and
• ensure existing land use terms do not overlap across definitions and the relationship between definitions is clearer, through the inclusion of new terms, amendments to existing terms, and cross referencing the group term/sub-term relationships

The new planning framework aims to enable more streamlined development assessment processes, facilitate higher quality urban environment and desired development outcomes, and provide guidance towards a more sustainable future.

As Landscape Architects, we ought to make it a mission statement to contribute for the best in order to achieve great things in the landscape architecture, not just locally in Sydney, but Australia and eventually be a model for worldwide urban planning. In our demise to create landscape designs for new development, we ought to be strict on ourselves to bring out the best in others. Melbourne has always been talked about as the creative/artistic/innovative city in Australia over the past decade but if we start now Sydney we can make a difference. So come on Architects and Landscape Architects let’s make a difference.

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Gardening Tips: Part 6 Pest Control

There are several pest/disease which can affect plants – most are not of any great concern. The best way to fight pest/diseases is to grow hardy and pest-resistant plants.

For Australian natives:

  • avoid high phosphorus fertilisers,
  • be careful not to damage the main tap-root when initially planted,
  • maintain good drainage and
  • mulch regularly
  • minimise water loss especially during hot weather

Plants should be checked for signs of pest and disease every fortnight during the establishment period and every three months after. Most plants suffer occasional damage from infestation or predation, and while some forms of damage are minimal and easily treated other may necessitate the removal of part or all of the affected plant.

The most common problems are caterpillars, scale, aphids, borers, thrip, leaf minor, wasp galls, root rot, rust, powdery mildew, damping off, slugs and snails

Pests can be separated into 2 main categories-borers and chewing grubs.

The most physically damaging predators are the borers which are the larvae of beetles or moths. They bore into the stems or branches of a wide range o trees and shrubs which can severely weaken the stem if the borer tunnels down the centre of the stem. A badly affected section will need to be cut off or the plant should be replaced.

Infestations usually occur during summer and autumn.

There are many sucking, chewing and infecting insects, depending on the type of predator; there are many commercially available products such as white oil that will treat a wide range of these. If found on a plant, a sample should be taken to a nursery for identification to ensure signs are evident, a sample of the plant and surrounding soil should be tested to determine if there is disease or non-visible signs of infestation.

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Gardening Tips: Part 5 Pruning

This week’s topic is about pruning. To start off on the right foot let’s define the difference between pruning and trimming. Pruning is a training method – cutting a plant to make it grow in a desired direction and/or shape.

Trimming is imply removing excess growth and re-shaping an already existing structure. Pruning promotes strong new growth and helps a healthy and well shaped plant with a good crop of fruit and/or flowers. During the establishment period the way a plant is pruned can have an important impact on it ultimate form.

The right time to prune depends on the type of plant and the severity of the winter climate. Hardy deciduous plants are usually best pruned in winter. Spring flowering plants should be pruned soon after flowering rather than in winter which would remove flower buds. The following applies:

  • Spring flowering shrubs and trees-immediately after flowering
  • Berry ornamentals- after berries finish
  • Rhododendrons and azaleas- mid to late spring as flowering becomes less
  • Conifers- as new growth is lush
  • Hedges- several times per year when look untidy
  • Birches, walnuts and maples- late autumn or early winter
  • Deciduous fruit trees- June and July normally
  • Australian natives- tip prune all year, avoid peak flowering times.

Pruning, trimming and thinning can also be undertaken in summer when the effects of the shaping can readily be seen.

The following are general methods of pruning that should be undertaken for shrubs and small trees:

Completely remove any diseased, week or damaged wood

Remove suckers and any overly vigorous shoots

Locate the healthy main branches formed during last season’s growth

Cut back to healthy outward facing bud

Access the results and adjust accordingly

The extent of pruning required depends on the type of plant and the desire form. Some plants such as Boronias and Croweas and many others will only require regular tip pruning to encourage a dense, compact habit. Other plants such as Callistemons and Grevilleas require considerable cutting back

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Gardening Tips: Part 4 Fertilising

This week topic is Fertilising. I thought it would be great to talk about fertilising considering the season we’re in (spring) which is the perfect time to replenish and nourish your plants or veggie patch.

Regular fertilising is essential for healthy vigorous plants. It is best to apply mulch beyond the plants perimeters to encourage the roots to grow outwards. This should generally be undertaken at the start of each growing season in spring.

Australian native plants in general prefer low phorous levels. Blood and bone is commonly used in powdered form to provide the required nitrogen level to plants, often deplted overtime.

Fertilisers can also be applied in granular form or soluble form. The fertiliser needs to get down deep into the soil profile where the roots are and should be well wateredin or make a number of holes about one metre apart over the entire spread of roots. The holes should be about 50mm diameter and at least 500mm deep. Divide the allowance of fertiliser accordingly with the number of holes and pour the calculated amount. Finish off by watering thoroughly.

Like most plants Turf gets its nutrients from the soil and once used up the turf may suffer some malnutrition. Generally a dressing of lawn food should be undertaken in both November and April using a fertiliser such as Grass Master No. 17 Lawn food.

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Gardening Tips: Part 3 Mulching

Hi all,
I hope you are enjoying this series as much as I am. Any feedback, or questions are welcomed.
This week’s topic is about mulching.
Whilst un-mulched plant are not necessarily under more stress than mulched plants from a lack of water, the use of mulching materials over the topsoil will perform three very important functions:
• The soil surface does not dry out, thereby preventing the cracking effect that makes penetration into the soil profile very difficult, and
• Plants roots will operate in a more even temperature and damage to those close to the surface is avoided
• Will reduce the chance for weeds to grow
Mulch depths should be maintained at the specified depths during and beyond the establishment period. Mulches will breakdown over time and should therefore be replenished.
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Gardening Tips- Part 2 Weeding

For this week’s gardening tip the subject will be weeding.

Weeds compete with cultivated plants for nutrients, water, light and space. Weeds should be destroyed before they flower and disperse seeds which will lead to a greatly magnified problem. Weeds can be controlled in many ways. The most common methods are:

Hand removal or hoeing: if this method is employed the weeds toor system must be removed as the weed may re-grow.

Chemical control: Spraying weed killers can be classified into many different categories including pre-emergent, post-emergent, contact weed killers and systemic weed killers depending on the method and timing of the application.

Please use non-residual herbicide as they will not leave any harmful residue for other plants. If spraying nearby waterways, bioactive Roundup should be used as they are harmless to aquatic fauna.

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Landscape Architecture in Sydney

An attempt to define landscape architecture in Sydney in one hour seems almost impossible and would definitely encroach onto the realms of plagiarism. The definition of Landscape Architecture by Wikipedia is as such:

” Landscape architecture is the design of outdoor and public spaces to achieve environmental, socio-behavioral, and/or aesthetic outcomes. It involves the systematic investigation of existing social, ecological, and geological conditions and processes in the landscape, and the design of interventions that will produce the desired outcome.”

In order to achieve a better outcome, I will definite landscape architecture in the context of private outdoor design purely because of the context of the business which focuses on servicing clients for their development application. Designing for the sake of getting the application over line seems quite limited, but offers opportunities to express and push for a sustainable approach to design.

Often residential clients ask for “Contemporary style” which is often backed with comments like “maintenance-free”, fact that persuade me to believe that they are very much illusioned by the projected image of design homes that sets the scene for practical but not really helping at creating a sense of place; a maintenance-free garden which often projects a visual minimalist image.

As a Landscape Architect, I would seldom suggest a Minimalist approach. Minimalist design as its name suggests provide the bare minimum. Identifying their personal needs and projecting that in the design and creating opportunities for the clients to appropriating the space is most critical to achieving something sustainable, something that they would take ownership of.

At the end of the day, the garden is one of place at home where you retreat. Garden of fresh air or garden of peace it is the one place where you would seek refuge from the everyday buzz.

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Gardening Tips- Part 1 Watering

I am starting a series on gardening tips and maintenance schedule for Landscape. Over the next 4 weeks, I will be introducing several aspect of gardening that will hopefully shed some light on myths and mysteries. The topic of the day is Watering.

Watering will encourage the main roots of trees, shrubs and groundcovers to develop in the deeper, cooler soil layers rather than at the surface where temperature and moisture levels can fluctuate too severely. As well it will encourage the root system to radiate down and away from the soil surface so that eh plants function over a wider area and will become more stabilized.
Planted area
Initially plants should be watered more frequently but only for a short duration as the roots are quite close to the surface. The frequency of the watering should be gradually decreased with the duration increased to encourage maximum penetration of the roots into the deeper soil.
Turf area
Turf areas should be watered at least once a day within the first 3-4 weeks, and possibly twice a day if required during extreme temperatures. Watering should be for a long enough period to ensure good soaking of the turf. After the first initial weeks of watering the roots will begin to extend into the topsoil layer below the turf, gradually reduce the frequency and increase the duration of watering to encourage the roots to grow into the topsoil. Once established, apply approximately 5-10 litres per week to lawn areas.

I hope this has helped you and you will tune in next week for an insight on Weeding.


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Landscape compliance and Swimming pool

Building a house can be quite tricky especially if one does not have any experience in construction; it gets even more complicated when you want a pool in your backyard and can’t get your Council to approve your Development Application (DA). The good news is that there are professionals who are there to help. Every council has their own sets of rules and restrictions also known as Development Control Plan (DCP).

DCP specific aim is to provide comprehensive guidelines for different types of development in addition to the provisions of the legal planning instrument (SEPP, REP or LEP).

DCPs are important in the planning system because they provide a flexible means of identifying additional development controls and standards for addressing development issues without the need for a formal statutory plan.

However sometimes council can be difficult to deal with when it comes to compliance. So here’s a tip if you want to put a pool in your backyard but you don’t have enough land space after providing the sufficient landscape percentage requirement. I have found that some Councils*:

At DA stage, do not include the pool in your DA plans, leave it as a grassed area and make sure that the area where you want to put your pool is free from stormwater pipes or underground Stormwater tanks.

Once your DA has been approved, proceed with building as per the plan. Once your plans are certified and issues to you, put in a complying development for the swimming pool and Voìla! Because the complying development does not require any landscape plan, the construction of the pool is independently dealt with

In case you have already consulted with your pool specialist and finalised the plan, here is also a solution for you:

The area of the pool can be deducted from the total area and hence giving you a smaller land area hence a smaller landscape area compliance.

* You should make sure that your Landscape Architect checks this fact with your Council

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