Creating diverse, attractive, low-maintenance landscapes

3 AUGUST 2019

Our team recently gave the Woody Meadows at Birrarung Marr and Capitol City Trail their second year of coppicing, to help create landscapes that look great, strengthen biodiversity and save time and money.

Cities around the world are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in urban green spaces. Urban greening has wide-ranging benefits for human health and well-being, local and regional biodiversity, pollution mitigation, and local urban microclimate.

Woody meadow at Birrarung Marr before coppicing.

However, maintaining vegetation in urban environments is expensive, which leads to overly simple plantings. Such plantings have limited visual appeal and physiological resilience to the wide range of growing conditions in urban environments.

We have recently developed a new approach to urban greening using Australian shrublands as a template. These “woody meadows” have high aesthetic appeal (e.g., year-round visual interest), and are coppiced every 2-4 years to create dense canopies which exclude weeds and have lots of flowers.

Photo of woody meadow at Birrarung Marr, Melbourne.
Woody meadow at Birrarung Marr after coppicing.

The overarching goal of this project is to create resilient, management-friendly woody meadows to enhance and expand urban green spaces. 

Coppicing involves cutting back small tree and shrub plantings to 20cm above the soil surface. We have done this at 6 months and 2 years after planting.

Monitoring how plants respond to coppicing will enable our researchers to determine the best maintenance regime for woody meadows.

This project is a collaboration with University of Sheffield, England, and City of Melbourne.

Find out more about the Woody Meadows Project.