Why use indigenous plants? Why is biodiversity important? Why a naturalistic planting style?


Well-maintained vegetation frames our course and creates a natural-looking environment. Indigenous plants enhance the natural feel and reduce water use.

Our planting principles are to:

  • use indigenous plants sourced as locally as possible
  • use a wide range of plants to create a biodiverse course
  • add pockets of indigenous vegetation where it doesn’t affect playability of the course
  • create textural and colour contrast
  • plant plants in a natural-looking arrangement
  • work with other golf courses to preserve Adelaide’s indigenous plants.

Why use indigenous plants?

Indigenous plants are adapted to local conditions. Using indigenous plants reduces costs and use of water, herbicides and fertilisers. Replacing our maintained rough with indigenous vegetation will lead to reduced water use, maintenance costs and chemical inputs.

Other than watering in their first year and watering during extreme weather events, indigenous plants will survive without irrigation. Weeds and invasive couch and kikuyu do not grow well in non-irrigated areas. Indigenous plants are adapted to our soil and do not require any fertilisers.

Growing indigenous plants preserves these plants and seedstock for future generations. Sharing seedstock and cuttings with other courses creates a plant (and habitat) ark.

Photo: Homalictus bee on Helichrysum bracteatum (Golden Everlasting)

Why is biodiversity important?

Biodiversity is the shortened version of “biological diversity”. It refers to the diversity of all living things. Audobon International is a non-government organisation which supports golf courses to enhance wildlife habitats around the world. Their document, A guide to environmental stewardship on the golf course, states:

Golf courses provide significant open spaces and opportunities to provide needed wildlife habitat in increasingly urbanized communities… non-play areas provide significant opportunities to enhance and protect wildlife and native habitats, provide corridors that link to other natural areas, filter pollutants, produce oxygen and stabilise soils.

Creating habitat on the course can attract predators to help with pests. For example, owls, and other birds of prey, catch rodents and microbats and frogs catch insects – this helps to reduce our pest control and pesticide costs.

Our large parcel of land gives us the opportunity to create a biodiversity hotspot. Adding canopy and more plantings to our course helps to reduce our heat load and will provide a cooler environment in a changing climate for our golfers.

Around the world, pollinators, like bees, are under threat – partly due to flowerless landscapes. One in every three mouthfuls of food we eat can be attributed to bees (and other pollinators). By creating a green space with flowering plants, we can provide much-needed nectar sources for bees, birds and butterflies.

Photo: Acacia pycnantha (Golden Wattle)

Photo: Common blue butterfly on Pelargonium australe (Native Pelargonium)

Photo: Black shouldered kite

Why a naturalistic planting style?

The land on which Glenelg Golf Club is situated is unique as it includes one of the lowest points and highest points on the Adelaide Plains. This means that our course would have included three types of vegetation associations: woodland, samphire and coastal (dunes). We are planting to suit our topography and our ecological vegetation class.

By planting in a drift planting formation – where plants are planted in three, fives, sevens, etc – we can create a natural-looking course and enhance the experience of playing golf in a natural environment. Mixing colours and textures of foliage when planting means that plants do not need to be in flower for contrast and interest to be created.

Self-seeding plants can fill an area organically and create a more naturalistic landscape. There are some plants that we use which are dune colonisers – they flower and self seed quickly. This adds to our natural landscape feel, however, sometimes these plants, due to aphid damage, or their short lifespan, may die quickly. We will treat these plants as annuals and remove them as soon as they start to senesce (deteriorate).

Photo: Blue banded bees

‘The course should have beautiful surroundings,
and all the artificial features should have so natural
an appearance that a stranger is unable to distinguish
them from nature.’

Dr Alister MacKenzie