Tips Archives - Kilby Park Tree Farm

Garden and Plant advice for living with Pesky Pets

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A wonderfully landscaped backyard is a beautiful sight to see.. until you have certain pets who enjoy adapting it for their OWN personal use, and leave destruction in their wake. Digging, trampling and urinating can cause all kinds of issues and spell disaster for plants trying to thrive. Below, we’ve gathered some tips and advice for common pesky pet problems:

1. The trail blazer.

Dogs especially enjoy forming their own paths through your backyard, which may result in worn down lawn and unattractive bare gaps in garden beds. The best way to get around this problem is to consider a garden layout with plants clumped together – Dogs are more likely to divert around clear obstacles, so shrubs and trees presented together are less likely to be knocked aside. Look for plants that are well established and roll out turf options – This isn’t the place for seedlings or smaller options that require softer handling! Establishing paths with pavers or gravel means your four legged friends may stick to the route you’ve established for everyone, rather than discover their own. Landscaping with multiple levels not only looks modern, but also works well to prevent pets from going where they shouldn’t.

2. The digger.

Digging is an instinct for dogs, and can be managed firstly with some behaviour changes. Make sure your pet has lots of toys and is not digging out of boredom. Bare soil and dirt areas are very attractive for diggers, so consider gravel or mulches to fill in gaps that may appeal. For those trickier diggers, why not create a positive place for digging, such as a designated corner of the yard, or even a shell filled with sand? Raised garden beds can help fend off the Digger and the Trail Blazer alike, especially if wired off for a few weeks.

3. The Lounger.

Cats and dogs will seek out cool shady spots for summer, and the perfect sun spot for the cooler months. If you wish to keep your pet out of your garden, make sure you are accommodating these needs accordingly – Look at raised beds with air flow for your dog, and designate it a shady area where they can relax during the heat with leafy deciduous trees. A dry spot with protection from the wind will help keep them cosy during the winter months, ideally a veranda or dog kennel.

Cats are usually less easy to tame in this regard, so ensure you are at least preventing any issues for them by avoiding plants like lilies and nightshade which are poisonous, and consider placing straw mulch in beds that are Cat Approved – the heat is very attractive for outdoor felines to curl up upon.

4. The Marker

Urinating can cause unsightly burns on grass and ironically, no tree likes to be marked either! Choosing coastal breeds like olive trees ensures a tree that adapts well to the habits of the frequent marker, though products on the market, such as Dog Rocks, can also be used to prevent burn marks by filtering out nasties in your dogs water bowl.


Pets and beautiful gardens need not be mutually exclusive – Time, practice, and the right plants and planting can all create a perfect environment for everybody to enjoy.

Trees for fence lines

What are the best trees to plant along a fence line?

By | Tips, Trees | No Comments

Where a tree emerges from the ground, the land owner is responsible for all actions of said tree. Fruit fall, slip hazards, root damage and damage caused by fallen branches become the responsibility of the owner. As you can imagine, choosing an appropriate tree is important from the very beginning.

Usually ‘fastigiate’ trees are better suited for boundary plantings. These trees have a very upright, narrow growth habit, which means less over hanging branches and less potential damage.

Most common tree species have a fastigiated hybrid, Betula p.‘Fastigiata’, Carpinus b. ‘Fastigiata’, Ginkgo b. ‘Fastigiata’, Quercus palustris ‘Green Pillar’, Acer p. ‘Crimson Sentry’. There is also an evergreen magnolia Magnolia g. ‘Alta’ which is also fastigiated.

Hedges are another good option, but the neighboring properties should be taken into consideration. Most hedges will need to be clipped between two and four times a year depending on species, so when planting a hedge, be aware of the ongoing requirements.

Trees are a beautiful part of any area and add value to property prices, but remember, light and views are not owned by anyone, so unless a tree is unsafe, or is causing damages to property, there is no legal reason to remove a neighbour’s tree.

Good luck and happy planting


2 simple ways to prevent aphid attacks (and what to do when they strike)

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Aphids! It that time of year again.

As soon as the weather starts to change and the humidity rises, Aphids start appearing.


These little sap sucking ladies descend from the atmosphere once they have seen a nice green patch to land. Roses, Helleborus, and our Viburnums are a favorite of these little pests. If you’ve got some beautiful rose buds appearing, aphids are almost inevitable.

Attacking the new soft shoots, Aphids can either; stunt and deform the new growth, and/or infect the host plant with a number of viruses that can potentially kill the plant. Some Ant Species also farm the Aphids for their sweet excretion, spreading them all over the plant making the problem even worse.

But there are a few simple ways you can prevent aphids from attacking.

1. Set up white shade cloth to protect your plants or garden.
White shade cloth has been known to prevent aphid infestations. The colour confuses the aphids, and they have trouble identifying and then targeting plants from the air.

2. Use brightly coloured mulch
This follows the same line of thought as the white shade cloth. With brightly colored mulch, the aphids won’t be able to tell if it’s a delicious rose bud or mulch on the ground.

But sometimes if worst comes to worst, death is the only way.

Quickly spray the plant with a targeted insecticide as soon as you start to see them. There are ‘Eco’ friendly pesticides that you can use, but here at Kilby we use chemical pesticides, as they are fast acting and keep our plants and trees in the best condition possible.

What methods do you use?

Happy hunting.


Top 10 Trees with colourful Autumn foliage

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1. Acer ‘Autumn Blaze’

Autumn Blaze

It’s all in the name. This beautiful medium – large tree (up to 13m) will reward you with some stunning red uniform foliage during Autumn.

2. Parrotia persica

Parrotia persica

A flaking bark tree with a beautiful bronze to dark green foliage in Autumn. You’ll get the full spectrum with this 7m tree – Yellow, reds, oranges, burgandy. Beautiful!

3. Cercis ‘Forest Pansy’

Ceris Forest Pansy

A smaller 5m tree, with intense yellow and orange autumn colours. Perfect for smaller landscapes.

4. Acer ‘Bloodgood’


This tree (up to 4m) looks great in roomy spaces, with a purple foliage all year round, changing to flame red in Autumn.

5. Acer Osakazuki

Acer Osakazuki

This beautiful Japanese Maple is considered the best of the maples! It will grow quickly when young, and will eventually reach around 5m high. A vibrant and deep red foliage appears in Autumn.

6. Sapium sebiferum

Sapium Sebiferum

This hardy tree is made for Melbourne. Grows up to 8m high with a yellow, red and maroon foliage in Autumn.

7. Pyrus calleryana


We’re talking the whole family. No matter which you choose from the Pyrus family, you’ll have beautiful Autumn colours to match.

8. Pistacia chinensis


A spectacular Autumn tree. If you’re looking for a bright orange foliage, this is your guy. Will grow up to 8m.

9. Robinia frisia

Robina Frisia

This gorgeous golden-green tree really starts to shine in Autumn and the leaves become a bright yellow gold. Will grow up to 9m.

10. Acer japonicum vitafolium

Acer Japonicum

A vine leaf maple with a spectrum of autumn colours. It’s a beautiful, rounded open tree which works well in sheltered positions. A stunner for the courtyard.

If you want anymore advice on Autumn trees, please give us a ring on 9859 9190.

You can also grab our April price list here.

Kilby Park Tree Farm Alex in the Bamboo

What is the best time to plant bamboo?

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Hey guys, it’s Alex here. A few weeks ago we shared the differences between 6 types of Bamboo, and since then I’ve had quite a few people ask me; when is the best time to plant bamboo? Like all things plant related questions, it depends..If the bamboo is going from a pot to the ground, then autumn and spring are the best, but if you’re able to keep the plants well watered, bamboo can also be planted in the middle of summer.


Lifting and transplanting bamboo from one place in the garden to another is very different. Late autumn, winter and very early spring are good times, it’s not too hot and the plants will suffer the least amount of shock. It is also the time to divide the clumps if you need to.

Site preparation is important, good drainage is essential and make sure that there is lots of composted organic matter in the hole and in the mix that will go back in the hole.  If the organic matter that you are putting in the hole is not properly broken down it will cause more harm than good – so your plant must be COMPOSTED. When planting, make sure the soil around the root ball is firmly compacted. Then give the plant a good watering to remove any air spaces around the roots. Water about twice a week for about two months with a diluted soil conditioner such as a seaweed tonic. This will encourage new root growth and help minimise transplanting shock

It may take a full 12-18 months for your bamboo to bounce back, but just be patient and soon you’ll start so see new fat buds.

Good luck and happy planting!


Thanks to Trove Interiors for this image

What colour range of Lagerstroemias (Crepe Myrtles) do we grow? And 6 shots that will inspire you to plant them.

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Hey guys, it’s Tanya here. I’m often asked about the colour range of the Lagerstroemias (Crepe Myrtles) that we grow. They’re one of the world’s best flowering trees AND so I’m not surprised by how popular they are. They offer great flowers in Summer, beautiful coloured foliage in Autumn and as the tree ages, their trunks will reveal beautiful satin smooth bark in Winter months.

If you’re visiting Kilby Park in the next month your so, you’ll be hit with a dazzling display of the Lag. Tuscarora as you drive in. The intense blooms have been described as ‘Dark Coral’ or even ‘Watermelon Pink’ – but I’m calling them a bright cerise pink that reminds me of the old Lag. Indica rubra of that I grew up with.

It’s been such a strong grower in the summer heat, and the bees are loving it too.

Beyond that, we also grow..

Sioux – Mid bright pink
Lipan – Lavender mauve
Tonto – Bright purple / red and of course the..
Natchez – Pure white

With so many options to choose from, Crepe Myrtles are a great addition to any garden or design. Here are six shots that have inspired us.


If you want to know anymore about our Crepe Myrtles, please give us a ring on 9859 9190.

You can also grab our April price list here.

Top 7 Plants that Did Well during Summer (and the heat waves.)

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While it’s no surprise that summer is hot, it really took us by surprise just how hot it was in January. That extreme heat wave, plus the high temps on other days made keeping our plants at the top of their game quite challenging. But interestingly the effect the heat had on our plants was pretty varied.

On the really hot days, we were so glad that we spent the time planning and installing a premium irrigation system. All plants need water to survive, but in extreme heat they might need to be watered up to three times a day. When you’re installing plants during summer, it’s important to keep them well hydrated.

Here are our top 7 plants that have done well this summer at Kilby Park.


1. Gardenias florida : Florists gardenia
Gardenias thrive in warm weather. They’re heat loving plants! They’re a native shrub from Asia, and they they prefer a spot in the garden that won’t get too much frost. During the heat wave, we gave them a good dose of water, and they rewarded us with an exquisite burst of sweet fragrance.


2. Murrayas paniculata : Orange jessamine
The Murrayas are a perfect hedge plant and they love hanging out in the sun – a great plant for Summer. In Spring and late Summer, Murrayas will produce beautiful creamy white flowers which smell like orange blossoms.


3. Buxus sempervirens : English box
This is another great hedging plant that is often used in formal gardens. They can be easily be clipped into formal topiary shaped spheres, cones or blocks for feature specimens.


4. Lorepetalum chinensis ‘China Pink’ : Pink fringe flower
We were surprised by how well our Lorepetalums did this summer. They’ve just exploded with colour! They’ve got a deep burgundy foliage provides a striking contrast in the garden when planted adjacent to lush green foliage – and they work especially well in cluster plantings. We’ve got some sitting out the front of our office. Just beautiful.


5. Cycad revoluta : Sago Palm
These slow growing plants have surprised us this summer. We knew that they loved bright light, but they’ve flourished in the heat. These architectural prehistoric plants can be used en masse in large beds or as a striking feature in urns or pots.


6. Ficus hillii : Hills Fig
This versatile tree has done really well through the summer. It’s very hardy and has easily survived the dryness and heat of the sun. These are slightly darker green and a bit more open and weeping than the Ficus Flash.

7. Ficus hillii ‘Flash’ : Flash fig
Our Ficus Flash’s can’t seem to get out the door fast enough. We’ve almost sold out and we’re on the hunt for more. Their bright green foliage is loving the sun and they are going to be perfect for beautiful screens or tall hedges.

All of these have done really well in the extreme heat – largely because they were kept very well watered. In general, these plants will do well in heat, provided they are watered well and the extreme heat doesn’t last any longer than 3 – 4 weeks.

It seems like the heat is off for now, but knowing Melbourne, it won’t be long before it’s back. If you want to know anymore about great plants for summer, please give us a ring on 9859 9190.

You can also grab our February price list here.

What’s the difference between the types of Bamboo?

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We often get asked about the types of bamboo we grow, and what they’re best used for. With six different types of bamboo to choose from – it can get pretty confusing! First things first – it’s best to choose a non invasive clumping bamboo (that’s what we grow).

Here’s the differences between them.

Oldhamii and Tigergrass at Kilby Park Tree Farm

Oldhamii is a very fast growing and hardy bamboo with large leaves.
Height : Up to 15m
Best for: Tall screens
Weather: Grows in both sun or shade.

Gracilis our most popular screening bamboo.
Height : Up to 6m in height
Best for: Screening
Features: Extremely vertical growth, very graceful and green
Grows: Grows in sun and part shade.

Timor Black
Timor black is a beautiful plant with dark culms, a rarity in the plant world.
Height : 10-15m in height
Best for: Unique screens
Features: Black and brown culms

Himalayan Weeping
Himalayan weeping looks nothing like a classic bamboo.
Height : Up to 3m in height
Best for: Growing in containers and planters
Features: Graceful pendulous clumps and fine sprays of long bright green leaves
Weather : Cold Tolerant

Nepalese Blue
A beautiful bamboo with a blue tinge.
Height : 3m – 5m in height
Best for: Smaller gardens and pots
Features: Delicate Arching poles
Weather : Great for houses that don’t get much sun

Tiger Grass
A fast growing, lush clumping grass that looks like small tropical bamboo.
Height : Up to 2.5m
Best for: Subtropical designs
Features: Fast growing and clumping
Weather : Dormant in winter and love water.

We’ve got all of these growing at the moment! If you’d like some, just check out our price list or give us a ring on (03) 9859 9190. 

Planting in warmer weather?

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Melbourne’s famously variable climate is never more obvious than in Spring. Cool and hot days can be sprinkled liberally through the month. As the weather warms up, plants will become more active, and their water needs increase considerably. Planting trees in Spring means that just as the tree is adjusting to a new environment just as it’s water needs are increasing.  Here are some things worth remembering:

1. Give the pot a good soaking before you plant. Not just a quick surface water, but a good, deep drink. If possible, plunge the pot into a bucket of water, and let it get completely saturated. This is important because, up until it is planted, the tree will have been surface watered only so the centre and lower part of the root ball may not be damp, and if it goes into the ground with dry soil around the roots subsequent surface watering might not reach these parts after planting.

2. Make sure that you water the hole before you plant the tree. A crucial step that is often overlooked is ensuring that the soil the tree is going into is at least as wet as the soil around the tree. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, the porosity of the soil in the ground is likely to be different from the soil in the pot. This means that when the pot soil touches the ground soil, the difference in porosity will mean that water will be drawn from the wetter soil to the drier soil. This also helps avoid another common problem, which is that the surface of the soil in the pot can be less permeable than the soil in the garden. This is caused by a build up of roots in the upper part of the pot. This can lead to water run-off when watered from above.

3. Scratching out roots is very important. There is a bit of an art to this, as usually the roots at the edge of the root-ball are the finer feeding roots, and are therefore most delicate and also most important to the tree. It’s important to free them up, so that they start growing outwards immediately, and that they are surrounded by fresh, moist soil. However, scratching out overly-aggressively can lead to a loss of important new roots. This is also a time to do some root pruning it required. Large roots at the edge of the root ball can be pruned back a little to encourage the growth of new, outward growing roots.

4. If planting into heavy or clay soils, make sure that the bottom of the hole is dug in such a way that the centre of the hole is the highest point at the bottom, with a slope away from the centre. This can then be leveled by filling the bottom of the hole using good quality mix. The reason for this is to avoid creating a ‘sump’, where water can collect and sit, rotting the roots. This sometimes happens when a hedge is put in, and a single trench is dug for the hedge. Because the water will travel horizontally in heavy soils, pools can form at the lowest point of the trench. This can mean that only one tree in a hedge dies, because it has been unfortunate enough to be sited at the point where the water collects.

5. Once planted, make sure that the gap between the hole is filled evenly with mix, and tamped-down gently to avoid any air-pockets forming. Then, its time to give the tree another good soaking, making sure that the entire area around the tree, including the root ball and the new soil, is well watered.

6. If you are using a mulch, make sure it is damp when applied, and apply it to damp soil. Dried out mulch can wick moisture away from newly planted trees.

7. Monitor watering and weather until the trees settle in. When planting trees, the environment around the roots is radically altered. Where there was once an impervious barrier, there is now new soil. Moisture and gas levels will vary significantly, and for a tree putting on new growth, this potentially places extra strains on the trees just as it is entering its most active growth season.

A fruitful new trend

By | Clippings, Design Ideas, Tips | No Comments

Modern gardens are all about leisure, but the idea of a garden being a place of recreation for working people is a relatively new idea. In earlier times, only the wealthy could afford to have land filled with ornamental trees. For most a garden was a productive space, devoted to growing fruit, vegetables and herbs. Where flowers were grown they were usually cultivated for medicinal or utilitarian reasons. Even the wealthier families, who could afford pleasure gardens, had kitchen gardens to keep the house supplied with produce.

In the second half of the last century improvements in living standards, the wider availability of food, refrigeration and improved storage techniques and changing eating habits meant that fewer people were including productive areas in their gardens. It now seems that gardens are viewed very differently – rather than being an area of economic value, they are seen more as extensions of the living areas of the house.

Thankfully, we are started to see changes. More and more people are asking that a veggie garden be part of the new design. The dazzling array of produce available in our supermarkets has a hidden cost. Often food is transported long distances, and the resultant impact in terms of pollution is a factor that is troubling more and more people. The bounty in the supermarket is also made possible by the intensive use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Information about the chemical inputs into farming is not widely disseminated, and consumers can be troubled by the largely unknown health risks that combinations of these chemicals may have.  Growing food at home means that much more control can be exercised over the chemical input into the produce.

So how can we add productive elements to the garden? Firstly, we have to be honest about how much time we want to spend actually tending the garden. Growing palatable fruit and veggies takes a lot more time and effort than many people realise. A garden full of tasty veggies and fruit is not only appealing to us, but to a whole host of other animals. Birds, bats and possums can strip a laden fruit tree in the wink of an eye. Succulent salad leaves will stand no chance against a hungry hoard of slugs and snails, caterpillars and grubs. Most fruit and veggies wont crop well if subject to water stress, so irrigation is also a factor.

The easiest entry into food production are herbs, many of which, coming as they do from around the Mediterranean basin, are tough and adaptable. They can also be worked into ornamental gardens without much effort. Rosemary, particular prostrate, is a reliable performer as a ground cover. Care needs to be taken that it is trimmed regularly to avoid woodiness. Bay tree (Laurus nobilis) makes a handsome, if slow growing, hedge. Sage, like Rosemary, is a good choice as long as it is kept regularly trimmed. Low growers like Oregano and Thyme can also be used as groundcovers.

Other plants can be included into ornamental borders and will do double duty being attractive to the eye and useful in the kitchen. Italian and curly parsley can be clumped to provide a soft green foil for other plants. Trim the leaves as you need, and allow a few to go to seed, both because they have attractive flowers and it ensures a supply of seedlings. Coriander can be used in the same way, and even carrots and parsnips can be grown in borders. All part of the same family, they can be cropped as needed or left to flower and spread.  Swiss chard is an easily grown plant that can give a good display of deep green leaves. And don’t forget nasturtiums. Both the leaves and flowers are edible, they cope well with heat and neglect, and the spread rapidly through a garden, but are easily controlled. The various members of the onion family can also be planted amongst ornamentals, some having interesting flowers. Chives makes a great clump, a good alternative to small grasses.

If a dedicated vegetable plot is needed, care should be taken in the siting of the space. Almost all food crops need plenty of sun. Hygiene is also important, so plots should be site away from areas where dropped leaves build up, and where it is easy to erect barriers such a meshing for trees and to avoid possum damage. Container growing of vegetable crops is often a good idea in small spaces, or even in larger gardens where integration into the main garden isnt easy. Growing in containers means that optimal conditions can be created for growing different crops, and when the crops are not looking their best, they can be sited out of the way of important views of the garden.

We can only hope that an upsurge in interest in veggie garden might herald a new trend overall in gardens. Encouraging home owners back into their gardens, as a place where they actively take part in the nurturing and development of the garden ,rather than simply enjoying it passively, has got to be a good thing.