SUSTAINABLE  CANBERRA                                           australian institute of landscape architects   AILA®



Case-Study / Guidelines / Case-Studies


  • Locate well-being gardens within existing urban infrastructure (within the ACT government’s Canberra Spatial Plan 7.5km radius for urban intensification.) Aim to locate garden close to bus services to reduce car trips to the site. 
  • Minimise invasive noises into the site such as traffic either through physical structures such as walls or mounds or by masking the noise source.  Dense vegetation can physically mask noise source while adding the sound of moving water can also assist as well as creating an attractive focal point
  • Consult with the local community about their needs, desires and concerns of the proposed development.  Gain community input into the conceptual and master plans for the project.
  • Employ a multi-disciplinary team to oversee the project including landscape architects, horticulturalists, artists, planners and environmental educators.

Landscape Design

  • Aim to create a restful, contemplative environment that provides a sanctuary for users
  • Aim to provide a range of different sensory experiences within the landscape (engage all the senses: vision, smell, sound, touch)
  • Create a primary path to direct people through the site, but also a range of minor paths to provide different user experiences
  • Provide areas for seating, lying and reflection
  • Use plants that encourage native wildlife
  • The majority of plant material should be chosen for their green hues.  Choose plants with flowers in cooler colour spectrum eg blue, violet (violet is good for meditation) and avoid hot colours like red, orange and yellow which encourage activity

Water use

  • Aim to be sustainable in water use.  Where possible harvest water on site and minimise evaporation from water features
  • Maximise site permeability. This will assist the local catchment by reducing peak flows and nutrients entering local creeks and drains.

Landscape Materials

  • Incorporate sustainable landscape materials wherever possible.  This will reduce the ecological footprint of the project.

Site Ecology

  • If practical and if original soils have not been adversely affected aim to restore some of the existing ecology to the site – this will improve site biodiversity.  If possible link site to existing open spaces and reserves to create habitat corridors. 
  • Choose plants with multiple functions. For example, when choosing a species to create privacy, consider one with screening capabilities, produces edible fruits and is bird attracting.

Site Accessibility

  • Ensure site is accessible for wheelchair users and for strollers


  • Incorporate environmental art 

Planning for climate change

  • Ensure the garden will be shaded by appropriately selected trees (considering their final height, longevity, weed potential and whether deciduous or exotic) and the majority of plants need to be able to cope with a hotter and drier climate. 
  • Consider creating a suitable ‘mini-oasis’ area which can provide relief for visitors during very hot weather
  • Provide bike parking to encourage cycling and reduce car dependency.
  • Relegate cars to the edge of the development and link residences with wide landscaped paths. 

Case Studies

Chinese Garden of Friendship, Sydney

Case-Study / Guidelines / Case-Studies

Sustainable Canberra



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