Don’s Expert Answers: Looking for suggestions. See comments below.

Question From: 
Megan in  Brookfield ,  Melbourne VIC


Nature of problem: 
Looking for suggestions. See comments below.


Type of Plant (if known): 
Flowering gum/grevillea/bottle brush.


Symptoms of Plant Illness (please try NOT to diagnose your problems yourself): 


Soil Type (e.g. sandy, clay or loam) OR Potting Mix Type: 
Clay but will be bringing in a little bit of organic mix.


How often do you water the plant:
Will water as often as needed.


How many hours of sunlight does the plant get each day:
Area is west facing so, most of the day.


What type of plant is it:


How long since you planted it:


Have you fertilised? If so, with what and when:


Is the plant indoors or outdoors: 


Is the plant in a pot or in the ground: 


What other treatments have you given the plant: 

Upload photo if available: 

Other Comments: 
Looking for best tree/shrub to plant in front of my house for shade/screen. Area is west facing. Concerned about roots and their effect on my slab & concrete path. Thinking of a flowering gum, bottle brush, or grevillea. Would be planting two or three across the front approx 1.5m from house/0.5m from concrete path. Will be filling the rest of the front bed with natives.
I am open to other suggestions of plants. Looking for native and bird attracting.


Answer: Hi Megan,  That is not really a soil, it is a sub-soil scaped up during land levelling. Nonetheless, it is still a good starting point. You would need to add equal parts of river sand and compost to a depth of 30cm and then dig it all over to create a functional soil. If this creates too much soil, use some around the back. BUT do remember that raised garden beds are ALWAYS the best way to grow plants. It is essential to do this soil improvement now before the area is full of sick & dying plants. Of the plants that you mentioned, botle brushes are the best for long term shade or screening. Grevilleas and kangaroo paws are also great at attracting birds. Check with your local nursery to see what varieties they stock. In general, plants don’t damage well constructed house slabs or paths. Go to the Burkes Backyard website and search for “bird friendly garden” for more details.  Don