How to convert a corner garden into a wildlife wonderland

21 August 2021

Blue tongue lizard

As valuable habitat for our native wildlife decreases, more and more of our native birds, mammals, reptiles, and frogs are moving into urban areas. The problem is very few of our urban areas provide a suitable habitat for wildlife.

The good news is there are simple things you can do to create a low-maintenance, wildlife-friendly oasis – and you don’t need a large space or budget to do it!

Attracting wildlife to your garden

One of the best ways to attract wildlife to your garden is to fill it with native plants. Native wildflowers are easy to grow and maintain and are often more resistant to pests than non-natives.

  • Flowering plants, such as callistemon, melaleucas, banksias, and grevilleas will all attract nectar and pollen-eating birds.
  • Native grasses, lomandras, casuarinas, and native figs may attract parrots, finches and other fruit and seed-eating species.

More common garden plants are also good to include in the mix to create a food market for local insects. Many insects are beneficial to the garden and will also provide a ready food source for other creatures such as lizards and birds.

Butterflies and bees love common garden plants like:

  • basil
  • rosemary
  • lavender.

Exotic citrus trees are good for Orchard Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars.

Creating a wildlife-friendly oasis

LavenderCreating a wildlife-friendly garden doesn’t have to be a costly exercise, says Brisbane resident, Barbara Elliot.

“I had an empty corner of my back garden that I was wanting to convert into a haven for butterflies, birds, and bees (and as many other little wildlife visitors as possible). My front garden had bottlebrush and other flowers that attract insects and pollinators. I was able to transfer some of these to my back garden and I purchased other plants at reduced prices from the nursery,” said Barbara.

“In total, my back corner garden transformation cost approximately $170 for the birdbath (the other birdbath was recycled), soil, and plants (bought at reduced prices). I used old logs from my front garden to support the raised garden bed area as well as an old garden bed kit from Aldi that had been left in the garage.”

Have a look at some of the wildlife Barbara’s corner garden conversion project has already attracted (pictured above and below)!

“I haven’t completely finished the area yet. I’m going to let it settle for a bit and then add some more native plants and grasses. But we’ve already had blue tongue lizards, lorikeets, galahs, butcherbirds, possums, and lots of butterflies visit,” said Barbara.

Read Barbara’s step-by-step guide to converting a corner garden area into a wildlife haven below.

Editor’s Note: Brisbane City Council’s Free Native Plants program offers a range of plants to enable the community to help grow Brisbane’s urban forest and support wildlife. Other councils offer similar programs.

Step-by-step guide to converting a corner garden into a wildlife wonderland

(by Barbara Elliot)

View images of steps and image credits at bottom of the article.


  • 4 bags of soil
  • Plants: Lavender, African daisy, wildfire bottlebrush, Bidens firelight (Note: these were the ones I used as I like them, and they were inexpensive. I will be adding some more natives soon. See list of some suggested natives above.)
  • Sheet of weed barrier fabric
  • Stones to place on the ground
  • Logs to create raised garden and garden bed kit (e.g. from Aldi)
  • Bricks
  • Two birdbaths

Step 1. Clear the area of debris, dead weeds, and make level. Note: you may need to use a spirit level to get it spot on.

Step 2. Build up the raised bed and lay logs behind it. Fill the bed with bricks to use for drainage then fill with soil (4 bags of soil).

Step 3. Lay a sheet of weed barrier fabric on the ground and put stones on top to hold in place. Put birdbath on top of the fabric. Place a stone in the middle of your birdbath if it is quite deep, this will help any smaller birds that may get into difficulty.

Step 4. Put the second birdbath on the top area, making sure it is level. Put plants on top and around the outside. Add lots of stones on the ground to build into a rockery (great shelter for lizards).

Step 5. Water every day to help flourish. I water first thing in the morning as there’s no shade till very late in the day.

Other tips:
  • Instead of, or as well as, a birdbath, you may like to add a frog hotel or frog pond to provide additional habitat for frogs. (see links to these below)
  • Reptiles such as lizards will happily feed on insects in your garden. They will also eat many of the pests we don’t like. In fact, the blue tongue lizard will gladly eat all those annoying snails. So, forget the snail bait or you will kill those lovely lizards.

Related information

  • Use the Griffith University GroNative app to find local Southeast Queensland plants that caterpillars of local butterflies are able to eat.
  • iNaturalist: Become a citizen scientist, record your nature observations and share with other naturalists


Image credits: All images © Barbara Elliot. Click on images to enlarge.

  • Images from top: Blue-tongue lizard; Lavender.
  • Images below: Steps 1-4 – creating the new garden.

Corner garden transformation images

Garden conversion - Step 1

Step 1.

Garden conversion - Step 2

Step 2.

Garden conversion - Step 3

Step 3.

Garden conversion - Step 4

Step 4.


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This