The woody meadow pilot project

Researchers: Dr Audrey Gerber and Prof James Hitchmough (The University of Sheffield), Dr Claire FarrellA/Prof John Rayner, Leanne Hanrahan, Ahmed Ashraf

Funding: City of Melbourne

Woody Meadow Website: See plant lists, locations and more project details.

Background

The Woody Meadow Pilot Project is a unique research collaboration between the Universities of Sheffield and Melbourne and the City of Melbourne. The overarching goal of this project is to create resilient, management-friendly woody meadows to enhance and expand urban green spaces. The project is supported by the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria and the Trawalla Foundation.

After initial experiments at Royal Botanic Gardens in Cranbourne and the University of Melbourne’s Burnley campus, we have established new plots along Birrarung Marr and Capital City Trail. These test beds include almost four thousand plants from twenty-one different species. This is informed by research used to create the Olympic Park meadow in London, pioneered by Dr Audrey Gerber and Professor James Hitchmough at the University of Sheffield in England.

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. 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.

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

Outreach

Fact sheet

Woody Meadow Design

Contact

For more information please contact Dr Claire Farrell from the Green Infrastructure Research Group at c.farrell@unimelb.edu.au.