Creating a wildlife habitat: planting

Time Allocation: 45 minutes*

Activity Level: Moderate


Planting is a great way to learn about the importance of native plants in creating habitats. Children will learn about the best location and conditions for native plants. The planting stage is where the children will be applying the information discovered in the research, vision and design activities already undertaken in this sequence. This will help establish a garden that will provide food and shelter for local native animals all year round.

*Time allocation will be dependent on site selection, travel time and that site preparation has been completed. Additional time may be spent in consultation with your local Landcare group, council, or native plant nursery.


  • First aid kit, sunscreen, protective footwear, allergy plans
  • Trowels or spades
  • Access to water
  • Watering cans or buckets
  • Prepared garden bed clear of weeds and with productive soil
  • Tube stock and large established plants – self grown or purchased along with labels and any growing information (watered overnight ready for planting)
  • Eucalyptus mulch
  • Gloves
  • Face mask
  • Printable Activity Sheet
  • Pencils
  • Clipboards (optional)
  • Camera/Device for taking photos (optional)
  • Instructions

    STEP 1


    Use your wildlife habitat design to determine your site selection and how many plants you will need.

    Walk around your site and mark out where you will plant the different types of native plants to create a multi-layered habitat. Consider and include:

    • access to water
    • maintenance access
    • the location of animal habitats like a lizard lounge, nest box or insect hotel
    • position spiky plants away from pathways
    • Read any labels – plants will get bigger as they grow, so don’t plant them close together.

    Plant during the cooler months when there is generally higher rainfall to reduce the need for watering.

    STEP 2


    Have your site prepared and plants ready before planting.

    Get the whole school involved in the site preparation.


    • Ask Junior Landcare students or the gardening club to help prepare the site.
    • Plan your school working bee around this project to get extra help preparing the site.
    • Ask for donations of plants and mulch from local nurseries, councils nurseries and families from the school.
    STEP 3


    Once the plants are in their correct positions, dig a hole that is slightly deeper and wider than the pot. Water the hole in preparation for planting.

    Make sure the hole is big enough to fit the plant and totally cover the roots. 

    Gently remove the plants from their pots ready for planting. It is best to have as little disturbance to the roots as possible. Keep the soil and plant intact by gently squeezing each side of the pot, then placing your hand flat over the soil with the stem between your fingers. This will provide the least amount of stress and disturbance to the plant during the process.

    When you backfill the soil, leave a shallow ‘well’ to help catch rainwater, so water will stay longer and reach down to the roots.

    Press the soil around the plant lightly, without packing it down to hard. Pressing too hard pushes out air which is needed by the roots.

    STEP 4

    Maintenance and upkeep

    Your plants are in the ground, what’s next?


    Placing thick (between 7 to 10 cm deep) Eucalyptus mulch layer around your plants will keep the soil moist and cool, control weed growth and help maintain micro-organisms in the soil.

    Mulch your native plants soon after you have planted and watered your plants in. Apply mulch as an evenly spread blanket on top of soil surface.

    Wear a mask when spreading mulch.

    Contact local councils or tree loppers about free eucalyptus mulch.


    Using the Planting Activity Sheet, create a roster to share plant caring activities with your Junior Landcare team.

    This can include watering, measuring growth, plant changes and checking mulch. You can also start making observations to see if any new native animals have arrived.

    The more involvement and ongoing maintenance, the better the growth of your plants.

    Extension Activity

    Ask the students to research the traditional uses of the native plants you have selected in your wildlife habitat.

    Ask your local Landcare group or local Traditional land owners to give a talk to your students about how to care for native plants.