Living Connections

Living connections... Creating gardens for life


If you live in Tamarama or Bronte and have a patch of green to call your own, then join this free Council program and turn your garden into a natural oasis for you and small wildlife.

Our habitat corridors are extremely fragmented making it hard for wildlife to move around to feed and reproduce. Our small birds like the Superb fairy-wren and the New Holland honeyeater are now confined to the coastal reserves and rarely seen in our gardens. Private gardens hold the key for reconnecting habitat and creating a healthy thriving neighbourhood.

  • Receive customised expert advice and free plants
  • Learn how to create a garden sanctuary for small birds
  • Contribute to a healthy green neighbourhood where birds can thrive.

To join email Vicky Bachelard 

*Currently only for Tamarama and Bronte area

Read more about some of Living Connection Participants and their gardens.

Tips for a small, bird-friendly garden.

Want to know more? Check out the frequently asked questions


Why is this program just for Bronte and Tamarama?

The aim of this program is to link our fragmented habitat corridors so that animals can move more freely and have access to shelter and food. If we use the funds currently available for this project and spread it across the whole of the Waverley Council area, the pockets of garden habitat would still be fragmented and would not provide the level of connectivity needed. By focusing on a smaller area we are more likely to have success in connecting the habitat to allow wildlife to move more freely. Along the cliff edge vegetation in Bronte and Tamarama supports small birds, but we need to spread the vegetation to allow the birds to move through the landscape to Centennial Park. If their populations remain just on the cliff edges they are in danger of local extinction.

Will it ever be available in other areas?

This project is externally funded by the Environmental Trust. We hope to make it available to other areas in coming years, but it is dependent on available funding.

What about apartments?

Apartment gardens will be assessed on their suitability for Living Connection on an individual basis

Help creating bird friendly gardens

If you are not in Bronte or Tamarama or your garden doesn’t qualify, don’t worry, there is plenty of help out there for you to transform your garden.

Installing your new plants

In your info pack there was a sheet on how to plant, in addition to those instructions try the following.

  • Dig the hole to the appropriate size and then fill the hole with water a couple of times allowing the water to soak away each time before filling with water again. You can pop the plant in the hole (in the container) when filling the hole with water. You will notice small bubbles appear from the top of the container and this tells you the water is filling all available air pockets in the soil around the plant roots and is getting a good soaking.
  • Once you’re happy the hole and plant have received a good soaking, remove the plant from the container, place in the hole upright and backfill the hole with the soil you removed – always try to keep the soil you’re removing right next to the hole to make this easier.
  • Push down on the soil you’re backfilling firmly until your fingers can no longer easily push down & disappear. This ensures you condense the soil in the hole, filling the air pockets so the plant roots won’t dry out. Try not to push down on the soil immediately around the plants stem (on the soil which came out of the container), only the backfill soil-sand. This ensures you’re taking the best care of the young fragile roots.

Watering your new plants

Your new plants will need to be watered regularly until they are well established and can fend for themselves. In dry weather we recommend a good water - so the water sinks down to the roots not just wetting the top soil - every 2-3 days. After the first month you can move to weekly watering for a few weeks then as needed.

Care and soil quality

The plants selected for your garden have adapted to the sandy, loam soils typical of the eastern suburbs area over thousands of years, but will grow in most soil types. Best growth and flowering are in well drained soils with a good quality mulch, and regular watering (in dry periods).

Why are my plants so small?

We choose tube stock or small pots for this program for two reasons. Younger plants adapt better and grow quicker in their new environment than plants that have lived in a pot for longer. They are cheaper than buying more mature plants, meaning we can provide you with more plants.

How long will my plants take to grow?

This is very dependent on the plant and the conditions – sun, water and soil - but they will generally take up to a year establish into healthy young plants and several more years to reach their full potential.

What if my plants die?

Don’t worry! It happens to all of us. Did you follow the planting and care instruction? Plants can be sensitive and sometimes they die for no known reason. Gardening is a bit of an experiment and sometimes we just need to trial different plants in a spot to see what works.

Can we provide you with more plants if the first ones die? That depends. Please email us to discuss:

How were my plants chosen?

Waverley Council’s Urban Ecology manager selected the plants based on:

  • The growing conditions in the Waverley area
  • Food and shelter that the plants provide small birds
  • Suitability for gardens (not too spiky if kids around, no sharp grass seeds to get in dog paws)
  • Ease of maintenance
  • Availability at the nursery

Where can I buy more plants?

We recommend you go to Randwick Nursery. They have a good selection of locally native plants at a reasonable price. They are very knowledgeable and if you tell them what you are trying to do they can make recommendations from the plants they have in stock.

Where can I get more information about creating habitat in my garden?

Need more information?

Vicky Bachelard


This project has been assisted by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust.

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