So you’re keen to help nature adapt by trialling Climate Future Plots methods in your own backyard? Pull on your lab coat and follow these steps.

Banner image: Planting a verge in a Perth suburb. Photo: Jesse Collins 

1. Define your goal for your plantings

With the space you have available, do you want to prioritise planting to provide habitat for certain types of bird, animal or insect species? Or do you want the plants to fit a certain function, such as screening a view, throwing shade, creating groundcover, or adding flowers or leaves of a certain colour?

2. Look up your area’s climate projections

Under our changing climate, what will growing conditions be like in your area in 2030, 2050, or even 2090? You can use the Climate Analogues Explorer to find areas where the current climate is more like the projected future climate of your location. For example, in 2050, Melbourne’s climate might be more like Wagga Wagga’s is now, while Hobart’s weather in 2050 might be more like Melbourne’s now.

3. Define the site location

This might mean defining where you are going to plant (verge, backyard, side access?), but it also means thinking about what other remnant vegetation is nearby; for example, are you near a river corridor or a park? What’s planted on the nature strip or in neighbouring backyards? Tip: Using the satellite view on Google Maps can help you get the big picture of where your backyard fits in the broader landscape.

4. Choose the plant species you will use

Have a look at the plant species that are native to your area… and then see if any of those species also grow in your future climate projection locations. The Atlas of Living Australia is a good place to start. You might need to do a bit of research to find out which plants match best with your goals for the planting, your area’s climate projection, and the site location.

5. Choose the provenances you will use

This will be the trickiest step. See if your local nursery or local plant sellers have the species that you’re looking for, and then ask if they ever grow seedlings using seeds from other locations (specifically, from your area’s climate projections). It’s also worth trying to source seeds or seedlings directly from native nurseries in your climate projected areas – being mindful of area quarantines and border restrictions.

Talk to your local native plant nursery about your backyard experiment. Photo: Jesse Collins.

6. Design and implement the site layout

Have some fun thinking about how you might set out the plants. Be mindful of how big they may grow, the direction your site faces, how much watering they’ll need to get established, and sun/shading effects. Our verge garden workbook has some helpful pointers when it comes to design. Then get planting!

7. Monitor the site and manage your data

If you plant two of the same species but from different nurseries or areas, for example, make sure you tag them so you can tell them apart. Check in on the plants and see how they handle extremes like heatwaves, frosts, lots of rain etc. You might also like to keep a regular record (e.g. once a month) of bird species or other wildlife you observe. You can use the plant data to make decisions about what kinds of plants grow well in your location and where to source them from in the future for a thriving backyard.

8. Hit the big leagues

If you’re enjoying this backyard experiment but want to be involved in something bigger, why not find a local conservation group, get involved, and raise the idea of setting up a bigger Climate Future Plot?

Stay in touch!

We’d love to hear how your backyard experiment is going, please reach out to let us know. And if you’re keen to hear more news from Greening Australia, you can subscribe for updates via our monthly newsletter.

10 more ideas of things we can all do to help nature adapt