Shelter for wildlife


Wildlife needs shelter to escape predators and raise young. Many different plants at varying heights creates shelter and nesting opportunities for lots of birds and animals. Frogs, lizards and bandicoots like to hide among low plants, rocks, logs and leaf litter.


Small birds take refuge in dense, prickly shrubbery, while possums, parrots, kookaburras, owls and gliders shelter and nest in taller shrubs and trees. One of the best ways you can protect local wildlife is to keep your cat indoors at night.

There are many ways to provide shelter for wildlife in your garden. The more you provide, the more that will come!

Look for this symbol Pot-plant for plants suited to pots and balconies.

Rock/Brush Piles


Rock or brush piles provide valuable hiding spots, nesting places and nesting materials for a wide range of ground-dwelling creatures, from geckos and skinks to bandicoots. They also attract insects which feed many birds, lizards and frogs. If you integrate a rock pile with a water feature you will be providing valuable habitat for water dragons, tortoises and native frogs.

Rocks for habitat


A beautiful pile of natural rocks and stones can look very stylish in an easy-care or native garden. Rocks and stones absorb the sun’s heat which helps lizards and frogs regulate their temperature. There’s nothing like watching a water-dragon lazing on a rock in your own backyard! But remember, never take rocks from natural bushland – they’re already providing important habitat there.

Helps: Insects, geckos, skinks and other lizards.

Brush and log piles


A brush or log pile is a deliberate collection of twigs, branches and logs which can be as big or small as you choose. The decomposing wood attracts insects, which in turn provide food for birds, frogs, reptiles and mammals. Hollow logs or pipes can also make cosy homes for lizards.

Brush piles can be blended with rocks, are cheap and easy to create, and are a great way to keep fallen debris from trees in the one spot.

Helps: Bandicoots, skinks, goannas, brush turkeys, frogs, birds and many more!
  • Tips:
  • Avoid using treated wood which can leach chemicals into the food chain
  • Consider adding some rocks at the base of the pile for additional shelter and nesting opportunities
  • Try growing a native creeper such as a purple coral pea or old man’s beard over your pile to add style and provide extra food and shelter for small birds
  • If you have a more formal garden you can add some decorative edging

Nest boxes


As a result of habitat loss, in particular the removal of large mature trees with hollows, many native birds and animals are in dire need of nesting sites. Why not help them out by installing a nest box or two? Remember to turf out any unwanted pest species if they start occupying a nest box.

Nest boxes for birds


It is such a joy to watch a pair of birds busily preparing a nesting box for their precious eggs, and then follow the small family’s progress as the chicks grow up and finally fly away from the nest.

Helps: Many different birds including parrots, ducks, owls, pardolates, tree-creepers and kookaburras!

If you want to make your own nest boxes, the Birds in Backyards website has some instructions.

Nest boxes for gliders and possums


Habitat loss and the removal of large mature trees with hollows has made life difficult for small mammals as well. You can help by installing a cosy home for them. And it’s a great way to stop them nesting in your roof.

Helps: All gliders and possums including sugar gliders, yellow bellied gliders, pygmy possums and ringtail possums.

Nest boxes for micro-bats


The Ku-ring-gai area is home to many different micro-bats which need roosting places for resting (both day and night), social interaction, breeding and protection from predators. Many of their natural roosting sites such as tree hollows, caves and tunnels no longer exist. You can help out these little guys!

Helps: The many micro-bats living in Ku-ring-gai such as the little forest bat, the chocolate wattled bat and the large-eared pied bat.

You can even make your own microbat box (PDF < 1 MB).

Bug hotels


Ladybirds, beetles and other bugs need homes too. Bug hotels make a delightful feature in your garden. They are great fun to make and a fabulous activity for kids.

Helps: Ladybirds, beetles, native bees and more.

Handy tips on how to make ladybug homes, wildlife towers, or bee resorts. You could create your own backyard bug city!

Shelter plants


Shrubs, ferns and trees provide shade, protection from predators, valuable nesting sites and nesting materials. An increase in the number of large aggressive birds like mynas and currawongs has meant smaller birds such as finches and wrens are disappearing and need lots of bushy plants to keep them safe.

Low shelter plants (< 2m)

Centella (Centella asiatica)



A delicate, spreading ground-cover that makes a great alternative to paving in shady areas.

Size: Up to 25cm
Position: Shade
Helps: Skinks like the three-toed skink and geckos such as the thick-tailed gecko.

Native raspberry (Rubus parvifolius)


This rambling creeper has spiky stems that help keep away predators like cats and dogs. It is also a rich source of fruit and nectar. You can eat the berries too, but don’t expect them to taste as good as a traditional raspberry.

Size: Up to 1.5m spread
Position: Sun/semi-shade
Helps: Frogs, lizards and small mammals like our dusky antechinus.

Prickly Beard Heath (Leucopogon juniperinus)


This small shrub has spiky foliage and delicate, white tube-shaped flowers which are also a rich source of nectar.

Size: Up to 1m
Position: Sun/semi-shade
Helps: Small birds such as wrens and robins like the threatened hooded robin.

Prickly Rasp Fern (Doodia aspera)



This small fern is usually found clinging to rocks in shaded areas.

Size: Up to 50cm
Position: Shade
Helps: Frogs and ground-dwelling lizards and insects like the copper-tailed skink and the dainty tree frog.

Scurvy Weed (Commelina cyanea)



One of the most common ground-covers in the Sydney basin this plant has vibrant small blue-purple flowers in the warmer months and can grow just about anywhere.

Size: Up to 1.5m
Position: Semi-shade
Helps: Geckos like the stone gecko, skinks like White’s skink, frogs, native bees and more.

Medium shelter plants (2 - 8m)

Black-thorn (Bursaria spinosa)


An ideal habitat plant, this shrub is very spiky so make sure you keep it away from walkways. It’s the spikes that make it so useful for protecting small wrens, robins and other birds from predators. As a bonus, its rich nectar feeds small birds, bees, butterflies and moths.

Size: 3 - 4m
Position: Full sun/part-shade
Helps: Small birds like the superb fairy wren and the vulnerable scarlet robin, native butterflies and native bees.

Hakea (Hakea sp.)


Most hakeas are medium shrubs with prickly foliage offering protection and nesting sites for small birds. They are also a rich source of nectar.

Size: 2 - 3m
Position: Full sun/part-shade
Helps: Small birds like the red-capped robin, rufous whistler and grey fantail who find refuge and nesting materials while they search for insects.
Our picks:

Prickly Moses (Acacia ulicifolia)


This shrub is tolerant of most conditions (although prefers some sun), and its dense, prickly foliage is an ideal refuge for small birds. The soft powder-puff flowers are a rich source of nectar for birds, butterflies and bees and make a spectacular show.

Size: 3 - 4m
Position: Full sun/part-shade
Helps: Small birds like the crested shrike tit and grey fantail, native butterflies and bees.

Rough tree fern (Cyathea australis)



Tree ferns make a great habitat addition to any garden. Native bees nest in the broken trunks, fairy wrens, silver-eyes and other small birds find shelter in the fronds and gorge on the ants and insects seeking shelter in the trunk. Fallen fronds create useful habitat for lizards, insects and frogs.

Size: 2 - 8m
Position: Part-shade
Helps: Native bees, wrens, silver-eyes, other small birds, lizards and frogs such as the endangered green and golden bell frog.

Tick Bush (Kunzea ambigua)



The dense foliage of this shrub is great for keeping small birds safe from predators, and its profuse flower-heads produce a rich source of nectar for native bees, butterflies and nectar-loving birds. Once it’s established cut it back hard to keep it looking good.

Size: 2 - 4m
Position: Full sun/part-shade
Helps: Wrens, robins, small birds like the little the little friarbird and nectar lovers such as the eastern spinebill.

Tall shelter plants (> 8m)

Eucalyptus sp. (Eucalyptus sp.)


Gum trees provide shelter as well as seed, nectar and insects. In particular they provide important nesting sites for many birds of prey (including owls, tawny frog-mouths and kookaburras, plus possums, flying foxes and gliders. Their limbs make great roosting spots.

Size: 10 - 15m
Position: Full sun/part-shade
Helps: Many larger birds such as owls, tawny frog-mouths and currawongs, plus possums and gliders (such as the yellow bellied and sugar glider.
Our picks:

Prickly Paperbark (Melaleuca styphelioides)


The prickly paperbark provides shelter for a range of species from small wagtails, robins and wrens to the larger parrots and owls. And they have the added benefit of providing nesting materials and nectar.

Size: 10 - 15m
Position: Full sun/part shade
Helps: Small woodland birds like wrens, wagtails and robins benefit from the cover provided by its dense foliage, while its hollows create great nesting spots for owls such as the masked owl, possums such as the tiny Eastern pygmy possum and gliders.