Living Connections

Birds and person holding living connections plant kit

Join Living Connections to create a cool green garden that both you and local wildlife can enjoy.

What you need to know

Living Connections is a free Council program to help you make the most of your outdoor space. It's open to all residents in the Waverley Local Government Area (LGA) with a garden, courtyard or suitable balcony. Help us establish 1000 habitat gardens by 2030 and reconnect important habitat.

Participants receive:

  • Free native plants (ground covers & shrubs)
  • Resources on habitat gardening
  • Living Connections fence sign to help spread the word
  • You may also be able to receive a garden visit from a horticulturist, depending on the size of your garden
  • Networking and support through the Living Connections Facebook group.

Participants will be asked to:

  • Keep an eye out for wildlife in your garden, particularly Superb fairy-wrens, New Holland honeyeaters, Blue tongue lizards and micro bats
  • Collect your new seedlings from one of our plant collections days
  • Care for your new plants using instructions provided; and
  • Keep your cats inside or in an enclosure to protect native wildlife.

How to join

  1. Read the Habitat Gardening Guide
  2. Apply here

Do you live in a habitat corridor?

Waverley habitat corridors are extremely fragmented, making it hard for wildlife to move around to feed and reproduce and presents barriers for plant pollination, germination and dispersal. Our small birds like the Superb fairy-wren and the New Holland honeyeater are confined to the coastal reserves. Private gardens play an important role in reconnecting habit and creating a healthy thriving neighbourhood.

Check if you live in a habitat corridor here. Click ‘Biodiversity Habitat Corridor’ on the right-hand menu.

About Living Connections

Since 2019, Council’s Living Connections program, with original assistance from the NSW Environmental Trust, has worked together with 340 private gardens, three schools, Council reserves and community gardens. This program has successfully supported links across the Bronte and Tamarama habitat corridors through the creation of small bird habitat and biodiversity friendly gardens.

Previous program participants have reported increased knowledge about identifying small birds and their habitat, as well as an increase in insects and small animals visiting their gardens. Over time, as the new plants mature, we hope to track an increase in key local species such as the Superb Fairy Wrens and New Holland Honeyeaters.

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

Tips for a healthy habitat garden


Frequently Asked Questions

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.

Is the plant list for Living Connections available?

There is a species list suitable for the Waverley area at the back of the Waverley Habitat Gardening Guide. The plants used for the program are drawn from this list but do not include all of them.

In addition to plants, the structure of the vegetation in a garden is extremely important in supporting wildlife, as is ensuring sufficient food resources, such as water and insects.

If you wish to support small birds in your garden, we also recommend you avoid using pesticides, including ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ bug and insect sprays, as insects are the food source of these birds.

How do I know if I live in a habitat corridor?

Properties that fall into one of our designated biodiversity habitat corridors may be able to receive a visit from a horticulturist and receive extra native seedlings.

Check the Waverley map here to view the location of the corridors.

How can I network with other habitat gardeners in the area?

Join the Living Connections Facebook group here - This group is for Living Connections participants and other locals who are interested in joining a network of community members to share ideas and insights, ask questions and learn more about gardening for wildlife.

Can I create a Living Connections Garden on my verge?

Yes, if it is suitable. Please read the Verge Garden Guidelines here, complete the self-assessment checklist and submit it to Council. You will need to apply for the Living Connections program separately.

Are foxes a problem?

Reports of fox activity in Waverley LGA have been increasing over recent years.  Fox dens have been found in parks and animals seen in backyards and streets. Sighting ‘hotspots’ have been around Tamarama and Bronte, but animals have also been seen in Bondi and Vaucluse.

Fox control is difficult in areas with high human populations, as control methods such as baits and traps cannot be used in public places. Council has undertaken den fumigations in recent years, with some success.  If an active den is discovered you can report it to Council here for investigation.

To deter foxes on private property don’t leave pet food outside, and secure the lid on your compost and other waste bins

Fox sightings can be reported to FoxScan.

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 team selected the plants based on:

  • The growing conditions in the Waverley area
  • Food and shelter that the plants provide for 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? Where can I get more information about creating habitat in my garden?

Need more information?

Vicky Bachelard

Subscribe to our Environment E-news

Get the latest news and tips on creating an environmentally friendly community, plus free workshops and events. Read our latest blogs here.

Subscribe now