The City of Unley is committed to pursuing, supporting and creating an environment that will sustain both current and future generations.

Sustainable Unley

Council’s direction and priorities in implementing greening goals which are identified in the Community Plan 2033 can be found in the Environmental Sustainability Strategy.

The Strategy is divided into five themes:
  • Green Unley | Improving and maintaining Unley’s Urban Forest

    The City of Unley is an urban environment noted for its tree-lined streets, parks and private gardens. The protection of Unley’s trees and street trees is particularly important to mitigating the impacts of climate, the urban heat island effect and a range of other benefits. This work is guided in detail by the City of Unley Tree Strategy.
    There is also an excellent opportunity for more verges to be planted. Most are currently dolomite which is not water permeable. If these are replaced with loam and low plantings or with lawn maintained by residents, it will help improve soil moisture, reflected heat and add to the cool, green feel of the City. 

    Ongoing work in parks, reserves, residential gardens and the encouragement of local food production is still underway.

    Key initiatives that fall under this theme include:

    • Trees
    • Habitat boxes
    • Verge gardening by residents
    • Biodiversity native plantings
    • Maintenance of parks and open space
    • Encouragement of private plantings
    • Food security including encouraging local food production
    • Community gardens at Fern Avenue, the Goody Patch and Morrie Harrell Reserve.
  • Waterwise Unley | Efficient, effective and sustainable water management

    The City of Unley is committed to having water sensitive urban design as a feature and reducing its dependency on River Murray water, while also maintaining its parks, reserves and street trees. Rain gardens and other Water Sensitive Urban Design measures are important to both conserve water and improve water quality by reducing stormwater pollution.

    There has been excellent progress in recent years to waterproof the City, by providing recycled water options to most of its parks and reserves through the Glenelg to Adelaide Parklands Recycled Water Project (GAP) and Managed Aquifer Recharge schemes (MAR).

    There are a range of waterwise actions you can take such as installing rainwater tanks, selecting water wise plants, mulch and wicking beds, and taking shorter showers.

    Key initiatives that fall under this theme include:

    • Water Sensitive Urban Design (for example, diversions for watering street trees, rain gardens and permeable paving)
    • Continue expansion of MAR and GAP networks and the use of their recycled water
    • Reducing water use, planting water wise plants, capture and reuse of water
    • Waterproofing parks and gardens.
  • Resilient Unley | Increasing resilience for changes in climate

    The City of Unley has partnered with the other Eastern Region Alliance (ERA) Councils and Adelaide City Council to develop Resilient East, a Climate Change Adaptation Plan for the eastern region.

    The plan outlines key vulnerabilities to climate change across the eastern region and a range of adaptation decision making and planning options at a regional and individual Council level.

    For The City of Unley key vulnerabilities are anticipated from increased heatwave frequency and duration and more intense periods of rainfall. Resilient East provides a number of preferred options for the eastern region to increase our resilience to climate change.

    Key initiatives that fall under this theme include:


  • Resourceful Unley | Excellence in waste management through diversion, avoidance and re-use

    The City of Unley is committed to reducing waste, from both its own operations and the community, and to the management of waste in a sustainable manner. Council offers several options for recycling and waste disposal including kerbside collections, hard rubbish collections and a range of other services and education programs to support our community.

    This work is guided by the Waste Management Strategy 2013-2017 which includes activities to provide innovative and responsive waste management practices that promote recycling and reduce waste. It incorporates best management practices to manage the waste collected by Council.

    Key initiatives that fall under this theme include:

    • Domestic Waste – education, re-use, organics, hard rubbish
    • Commercial Waste – organics, recycle construction
    • Council leader in waste management – alternate recycling, operations, our usage.
  • Energywise Unley | Increasing the energy efficiency of the City.

    Our modern Australian lifestyle is very energy intensive. We have become high electricity users. Our homes, which are now larger, commonly contain air-conditioning and many electrical appliances which rely heavily on fossil fuels that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Electricity prices have increased over the last few years, resulting in increased operation expenses.

    By combining reduction of energy usage with uptake of renewable sources, we can make a big difference in reducing electricity consumption, reduce carbon footprint, contribute to climate change mitigation and reduce risk against future electricity price rises.

    Key initiatives that fall under this theme include:

    • Renewable energy (solar, wind, battery storage)
    • LED lighting
    • Improving energy efficiency of buildings (eg insulation, management systems, heating/cooling upgrades).

    For lots of ways to reduce your energy bills at home or in your small business, visit the Energy Smart Saver website.


  • Other Resources


Before European settlement, the Kaurna people depended on the Willa willa—the winding creeks lined with Red Gum—for their food, shelter and water. Today many creeks have been altered through engineering to control the flooding of nearby homes. Approximately 90% of our creeks run through private property and there is an opportunity for land owners to improve their stretch of creek to create habitat for local wildlife and improve water quality.
  • Patawalonga Catchment
    The Patawalonga Creek was once connected to the Torrens River and Port River through the reed bed system bounded on the west by a wall of sand dunes and to the east wetlands. Over time there have been many structural modifications resulting in a greatly altered ecosystem and landscape prone to flooding and pollution problems.

    The Patawalonga Catchment covers 235 square km and takes in parts of the City of Adelaide, the eastern, western and southern suburbs and a portion of the southern Adelaide Hills. There are six sub catchments or surface drainage systems; two in the City of Unley being Brown Hill Creek and Keswick Creek.
  • Brown Hill Creek Catchment
    Brown Hill Creek drains an area approximately 36 square km. The creek rises near Stirling in steep country which, although not urbanised, has been largely cleared. The rural catchment contains Brown Hill Creek Recreation Park. Within the urban area, the catchment is defined by council drainage systems. In Unley, Brown Hill Creek has retained a natural flow path and has a number of linear parks along its banks and for significant lengths is in private property.
  • Keswick Creek Catchment
    Keswick Creek drains approximately 31 square km and has two main tributaries, Glen Osmond and Parklands Creeks, both of which contain some rural catchment. The catchment of Glen Osmond Creek includes a significant part of the South Eastern Freeway while the Parklands Creek drains part of the southern section of the City of Adelaide.

    In Unley, Glen Osmond and Parklands Creek are both highly engineered and in many reaches have been confined to concrete culverts for flood mitigation purposes.
  • Property Owner's Guide to Managing Healthy Urban Creeks
    In South Australia, we all have a duty of care to our environment. If you are fortunate enough to have a creek running through your property, it’s up to you to help look after it. A Property Owner's Guide to Managing Healthy Urban Creeks is available free from the Council. Phone 8372 5111 for a copy or download it Below.

    The City of Unley has undertaken revegetation of creek-lines in Ridge Park, Forestville Reserve and Glen Osmond Creek.
    Property owners guide to managing healthy urban creeks


Residents are encouraged to consider planting species that are native to Unley in their gardens to help preserve wildlife and rebuild important natural relationships that existed in the bush land of the original Black Forest.

  • The Black Forest
    Locally, Indigenous plants are easy to establish as they have already adapted to the local soil, rainfall and temperature. They are also easy to maintain as they require little pruning or fertilising. Importantly, local Indigenous plants require very little watering once established.

    The area extended from the eastern foothill suburbs of Burnside, Erindale, Beaumont, Glen Osmond, south-west through to Urrbrae, Malvern, Mitcham, Unley, Goodwood, Wayville, South Adelaide, Black Forest, Hyde Park, Clarence Park, Plympton, Edwardstown, St Marys and the River Sturt near Marion.

    The name 'Black Forest' is reputed to have been given as a result of the dark coloured tree bark and thick dark green foliage.

    The Urban Forest Biodiversity Program reports that grazing, agriculture, horticulture, residential development and industry have progressively all but replaced the unique flora and fauna of the Adelaide Plains. Less than 2% of the original habitat is left intact and remaining native plants and animals are finding it increasingly difficult to survive.

    Individual trees from the original Black Forest still exist within the City of Unley but only one remaining strand of grey-box woodland can be found in Heywood Park at Northgate Street, Unley Park.

    Information for this article has been sourced from a book by local Millswood resident, Darrell Kraehenbuehl 'Pre-European Vegetation of Adelaide: A Survey from the Gawler River to Hallett Cove' (1996).


    Adelaide Gardens Planting Guide
  • Clarence Park Biodiversity Garden
    Clarence Park Community Centre and Biodiversity Garden
    72-74 East Ave, Black Forest

    Although not a replica of the original Black Forest, the Clarence Park Biodiversity Garden is a demonstration garden featuring local native Indigenous plants that would have been found in the original Black Forest. A variety of 30-40 plants of different size, colour and movement have been chosen that can be planted in most home gardens.

    As only 2% of original vegetation remains on the Adelaide Plains, this garden is of significant importance and acts as a genetic material repository for local Indigenous plants.

    Other environmental features of the garden include a 900 litre rainwater tank which captures water from the roof of the Clarence Park Community Centre with overflow running into the garden and aquifer system. The tank's water is used to flush toilets which are gravity fed. Use of the tank has the potential to save approximately 28% (22kL) of mains water per year.

    Water saving devices at the Clarence Park Community Centre include a AAA tap aerator which has reduced tap flow to 9L per minute, Aqualoc tap washers which have reduced tap flow to 6L a minute and a timing device for the kitchen water heater which only heats when there is a demand for the water.

    The Clarence Park Community Centre also has three solar (photovoltaic) cells that were installed and funded by the City of Unley and the Australian Greenhouse Office. The 1440 watt grid connected system provides enough electricity to power the house next door with 2500 kWh per year, an estimated saving of $300 per year and two tonnes per year of carbon dioxide. Over the Christmas break when the centre is closed, the electricity meter turns anticlockwise or backwards where electricity is put back into the national electricity grid system.
  • Windsor Street Linear Reserve

    Windsor Street, Malvern

    Many of the plants and trees at the Windsor Street Linear Reserve have been grown from collected seed and cuttings, which has enabled them to be replaced in areas where they would naturally have been found.

    Of the estimated 725 species of plants originally found in the City of Unley, 140 are now extinct and 393 are rare or threatened. The Windsor Street Linear Reserve provides an opportunity to assist in addressing the loss of these plants.

    Plants at the Windsor Street Linear Reserve include:

    • Austral Trefoil (Lotus australis)
    • Button Everlasting (Helichrysum scopiodes)
    • Common Vanilla-lily (Arthropodium strictum)
    • Elegant Spear Grass (Austrostipa elegantissima)
    • Finger Rush (Juncus subsecundus)
    • Goodenia (Goodenia amplexans)
    • Grey Box (Eucalyptus microcarpa)
    • Hop-bush Wattle (Acacia dodonaifolia)
    • Knobby Club Rush (Isolepsis nodosa)
    • Native Buttercup (Ranunculus lappaceus)
    • Native Lilac (Hardenbergia violacea)
    • Pale Rush (Juncus pallidus)
    • Round leafed wattle (Acacia acinacae)
    • Running Postman (Kennedia prostrata)
    • Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis)
    • Tall Blue Bell (Wahlenbergia stricta).

Greening Verges

Council encourages residents to take ownership of their verge areas and boundary strips as this enhances our streetscapes and the kerb appeal of residences throughout the City.

In addition to extra greenery, landscaping a verge contributes in many positive ways to your street by:

  • Providing a healthier environment for street trees
  • Softening the effect of hard surfaces such as roads and footpaths
  • Improving air quality
  • Working at natural air conditioners through moisture in leaves
  • Reducing stormwater run-off and
  • Providing habitat for small creatures like bees and butterflies.
  • First Steps to Greening Your Verge
    • Read our Verges Planting Guide for ideas and suggestions on planting your verge.
    • If you currently have dolomite that needs to be removed and replaced with soil, decide if you plan to complete this work yourself, engage a landscape contractor or have City of Unley complete the work for a fee subject to a quote.
    • Prior to starting any works, complete an Alter a Public Road Application Form and tick the create nature strip box.

    Please note, even though verges are classified as part of a public road under the Local Government Act 1999, and as such are owned by Council, your property can benefit directly from improved kerb appeal in your street. 
  • Display Verges
    Our display verges at Edmund Avenue showcase a variety of plants and treatments that you could use to transform your verge into an attractive garden feature.

    Take a stroll down Edmund Avenue, Unley and be inspired by contemporary, cottage, natural and formal layout examples, including different path ideas. All meet the guidelines of safe plant choices and low plant heights to ensure good sight lines for road users.
  • Verges Planting Guide

    The Unley Verges Planting Guide provides planning advice, landscaping rules, garden design ideas and plant suggestions for greening your nature strip.

    Please read this guide carefully to make sure your project will not inadvertently harm street trees or other users of the area.


    Planting Guidelines Summary

    • Plantings are to be kept lower than 600mm in height to ensure adequate vision for vehicles entering and leaving driveways.
    • Inform Council if you are planning on installing irrigation to the verge. The pipework will need to go under the footpath and Council will need to be aware in advance.
    • Locate underground services like pipes and cables before undertaking any type of works involving digging in the ground. Contact Dial before You Dig on 1100 before you start.
    • During landscaping works, special consideration should be given to preserving the vital root system of any trees within the verge.
    • Keep tools and other items off the road and footpath to prevent passers-by from tripping on them. The area must be kept safe at all times.
    • To prevent stormwater pollution, materials such as soil or mulch must be swept up from hard surfaces such as the footpath and gutter.
    • After planting it will be your responsibility to care for your new verge garden. Keep them watered, free from weeds and pruned if they start spreading too high or onto the footpath.


  • Greening Verges Incentive Program

    Applications are now closed for the 2019 Greening Verges Incentive Program.

    Thanks to all who have applied. Each applicant will be contacted regarding their status.

Local Environmental Groups

The following groups share information and resources to encourage sustainable contributions to our local environment.

Native Plants

The following information on plants native to Unley will assist you in planning your own native garden.

We also recommend the Plant Selector Plus website, an online tool provided by the Botanic Gardens which help you chose the right plants based on your postcode. You can refine your search based on type, flower colour and size of plant, including trees.

  • Arthropodium strictum (Common Vanilla Lily)
    “Arthropodium strictum“
    An attractive herbaceous plant that has delicate pink to purple flowers and an edible tuber. They grow to 1m high and prefer full sun and provide fields of colour in spring.
  • Austrodanthonia Species (Leafy Wallaby-grass)
    “Austrodanthonia Species“
    A hardy plant that was once widespread across the Adelaide Plains. All Austrodanthonias are small to medium tussock plants with some flower stems reaching 1m high. The flower heads are green and white and as they mature they turn golden brown and fluffy. Wallaby grass readily reproduces by seed.
  • Austrostipa curticoma (Short-crest Spear-grass)
    “Austrostipa curticoma“
    A delicate ornamental grass for any feature location in your garden. Growing to approximately 1m high, this grass prefers a full sun position but will grow in light shade.
  • Austrostipa elegantisima (Feather Speargrass)
    “Austrostipa elegantisima“
    A delicate ornamental grass for any feature location in your garden. Growing to approximately 1m high this grass prefers a full sun position but will grow in light shade.
  • Billardiera cymosa (Sweet Apple Berry)
    “Billardiera cymosa“
    A non-aggressive climbing plant with blue to white flowers in spring. Growing to approximately 60cm high without support this evergreen plant will grow in light shade or full sun.
  • Bracteantha bracteata (Golden Everlasting)
    “Bracteantha bracteata“
    An attractive plant that grows to half a metre high This herbaceous plant requires full sun where it will produce distinctive yellow flowers in spring. The seeds are dispersed by small birds, insects and ants.
  • Bulbine bulbosa (Bulbine Lily)
    “Bulbine bulbosa“
    An attractive herbaceous plant with yellow star shaped flowers growing to approximately 30cm tall. Preferring either full sun or light dappled shade the Bulbine-lily is a very ornamental plant for your garden.
  • Callitris gracilis (syn. Callitris preissii) (Southern Cypress Pine)
    “Callitris gracilis“
    A medium size conifer like evergreen tree growing to approximately 5-12m high. The Southern Cypress Pine is conical in shape and grows to approximately 3-4m. It is ideal for use as an ornamental specimen tree and its timber was valued for its straight trunk and termite resistant wood. Several species of parrot seek the maturing fruits.
  • Chrysocephalum apiculatum (Common Everlasting)
    “Chrysocephalum apiculatum“
    An evergreen plant standing approximately half a metre tall. The small yellow flowers are supported by attractive soft silvery foliage. The Common Everlasting prefers full sun. Seeds of this plant are dispersed by ants and other insects.
  • Chrysocephalum semipapposum (Clustered Everlasting)
    “Chrysocephalum semipapposum“
    A small herb to 60cm high with fine soft grey blue leaves. Preferring a full sun position the Clustered Everlasting is a spectacular foliage plant bearing cluster of enduring yellow flowers. Larvae of the Painted lady butterfly use this plant as food.
  • Cullen australasicum (Tall Scurf-pea)
    “ Cullen australasicum“
    Found growing from the coast to the Adelaide Hills. Preferring full sun this plant grows to 1.5m high is a food source for the larvae of several native butterflies such as the Chequered Swallow Tail. The Tall Scurf-pea responds well to pruning which enhances the display of brilliant purple flowers.
  • Dianella brevicaulis (Short-stem Flax-lily)
    “Dianella brevicaulis“
    A highly attractive clumping plant to half a metre high. The delicate flowers are light blue and yellow. This evergreen plant prefers a sunny location but will grow in light shade.
  • Dianella longifolia var. grandis (Pale Flax-lily)
    “ADianella longifolia“
    A highly attractive clumping plant to 50cm high. This evergreen plant prefers a sunny location but will grow in light shade. The delicate flowers are light blue and yellow.
  • Disphyma crassifolium ssp. clavellatum (Round-leaf Pigface)
    “Disphyma crassifolium“
    A dense ground cover plant with succulent fleshy foliage. Preferring a full sun position this plant bears large highly ornamental pink flowers in spring and summer and spreads to approximately 1m.
  • Enneapogon nigricans (Black-head Grass)
    “Enneapogon nigricans“
    A small grass growing to approximately 50cm high. This ornamental grass produces masses of black heads in spring.
  • Eutaxia diffusa (Large-leaf Eutaxia)
    “Eutaxia diffusa“
    A small shrub growing to less than 1m high. Preferring full sun this plant bears masses of attractive bright clear yellow pea flowers in winter and spring. Once widespread across the Adelaide Plains the remaining plants are a food source for the larvae of the Common Grass Blue and Fringed Heath Blue butterflies.
  • Goodenia albiflora (White Goodenia)
    “Goodenia albiflora“
    A perennial low growing spreading plant bearing white flowers for most of the year. It is an ideal ground cover plant for a sunny to part shade position in your garden.
  • Goodenia amplexans (Clasping Goodenia)
    “Goodenia amplexans“
    An evergreen shrub growing to approximately 1m high. The Clasping Goodenia prefers full sun and bears highly attractive yellow flowers in spring.
  • Helichrysum scorpioides (Button Everlasting)
    “Helichrysum scorpioides“
    A small plant to half a metre high. Preferring full sun this herbaceous plant bears masses of yellow 'button' flowers in spring that can be cut for a dried floral arrangement.
  • Hibbertia sericea (Silky Guinea Flower)
    “Hibbertia sericea“
    An evergreen small ground cover plant growing to 30cm high and 1m wide. The Silky Guinea flower bears bright yellow flowers and prefers full sun but will grow in light dappled shade.
  • Juncus pallidus (Pale Rush)
    “Juncus pallidus“
    An evergreen clumping plant that grows to approximately 1.5-2m high. Pale Rush prefers a moist site with full sun. Stems are limey green and flower spikes are borne at the tip of the stems. This easy to grow plant can be used to help restore creek lines, screening or can be used as a focal point in the garden.
  • Juncus subsecundus (Finger Rush)
    “Juncus subsecundus“
    An evergreen attractive sedge with blue green stems and leaves. Growing to approximately 1m in height Finger Rush is an ideal plant for growing in wet or boggy sites and forms a dense mass when planted in groups. Alternatively, this plant can be grown in dry conditions where it still performs equally well.
  • Kennedia prostrata (Scarlet Runner)
    “Arthropodium strictum“
    A hardy evergreen ground cover plant that spreads to approximately 2m. Preferring full sun to part shade masses of red flowers are borne in spring and intermittently at other times of the year. Nodules on the roots of these plants convert atmospheric nitrogen into nitrogenous compounds.
  • Linum marginale (Native Flax)
    “ Linum marginale“
    An erect plant with small blue flowers supported by slender stems to approximately 50cm high. Flowering in spring these perennial plants prefer full sun.
  • Lotus australis (Austral Trefoil)
    “Lotus australis“
    An evergreen medium shrub to 1m high. Preferring a location with full sun this plant provides masses of highly ornamental white to pink flowers in spring. The Austral Trefoil is an important plant for biological diversity as it supports a wide range of insects and birds.
  • Pultenaea largiflorens (Twiggy Bush pea)
    “Pultenaea largiflorens“
    An evergreen shrub that grows to 1.5m high. The Twiggy Bush-pea bears masses of yellow pea shaped flowers in late winter to early spring. Preferring a position with full sun and well drained soil this plant is a food source for larvae of the Fringed Blue butterfly. Seeds are dispersed by ants.
  • Ranunculus lappaceus (Native Butter Cup)
    “Ranunculus lappaceus“
    A highly attractive herbaceous plant that grows to approximately 50cm tall. Preferring full sun to shade these plant bear yellow shiny flowers in spring and easily reproduce to make an attractive feature in the garden.
  • Rubus parvifolius (Native Raspberry)
    “Rubus parvifolius“
    An evergreen non aggressive scrambling plant. Similar to blackberry but not as aggressive, the Native Raspberry has small bright pink flowers and red fruits. This plant responds well to pruning which encourages increased flowering.
  • Scaevola albida (Pale Fan Flower)
    “Scaevola albida“
    A showy perennial ground cover plant bearing white flowers October to January and intermittently at other times. Spreading to 1m in width this plant prefers full sun to light shade.
  • Senecio quadridentatus (Pale Groundsel)
    “Senecio quadridentatus“
    An erect perennial plant to approximately 1m high. In summer small yellow flowers are borne in clusters on the end of straggling stems. Pale Groundsel can be grown in full sun or in light shade. This plant can be pruned to promote denser growth and a greater flush of flowers.
  • Themeda triandra (Kangaroo Grass)
    “Themeda triandra“
    An ornamental grass that is sought after by grazing native animals. Growing to 1.5m high they prefer full sun and are often found growing on mass providing a striking contrast to other plants.
  • Velleia paradoxa (Spur Velleia)
    “Velleia paradoxa“
    A small plant growing to approximately 20cm high. This herbaceous plant prefers an open full sun position and bears attractive yellow flowers in spring and summer.
  • Vittadinia species (New Holland Daisy)
    “Vittadinia species“
    A small short lived herb growing to less then 40cm high. Preferring full sun the New Holland Daisy bears daisy like flowers that are approximately 1cm across and purple blue in colour. The Native Brachycome is a similar species, which is very rare in Adelaide.
  • Wahlenbergia stricta (Tall Bluebell)
    “Wahlenbergia stricta“
    A semi herbaceous plant that bears striking blue flowers in Spring. Standing approximately 30cm tall, the plants grow in groups and provide a brilliant floral display.