Sustainable Parks and Reserves

What is Council doing in our reserves and sportsgrounds that supports sustainable principles?

Council’s Sustainability Charter and Parks Plans of Management commit us to integrating these principles into Open Space decision making processes, design, planning, management and maintenance practices.

We are following the directions of the charter and plans in the following practical ways:

Reuse / Recycle

  • A soil conditioner made from 100% recycled organic materials is used in our garden beds. The benefits of using this product include increased water holding capacity of the soil, which reduces watering requirements.
  • When mowing, grass clippings are left on the surface where they break down providing nutrition for the grass. Mowers with mulching cutting decks assist with this.
  • Branches pruned during street tree maintenance are chipped, resulting in mulch which is then used on garden beds in parks and landscaped traffic islands. The volume of mulch produced is large enough that it is not necessary to purchase mulch from other sources.
  • Use of recycling bins at busy events such as the Bicentennial Netball Courts Saturday competition days.
  • Existing materials are reused or recycled material is used when possible for landscape improvement work e.g:
    • Stone in the existing pathways in Cleland Park was used as inlays in new paths that were part of park improvement works.
    • Recycled and plantation grown timber is used whenever it is available eg. Park benches
    • Rubber softfall surfaces in playgrounds are confined to high wear zones to minimise the heat island effect and reduce landfill when renewal works are carried out.
    • Crushed sandstone from other works was used for informal pathways and as a weed controlling “cap” in Bicentennial Reserve.
    • Bricks were retained after demolition of two houses on the site of Whitton Park, then used for the brickwork in terraces, steps and paths in the park.
    • The exercise station equipment at Sutherland Park is made from recycled plastics.


  • The “Capillary Irrigation Sub-Surface System” in the Garden of Remembrance saves water by reducing evaporation, minimising drainage losses and improving overall irrigation performance, compared to other forms of irrigation.
  • Water crystals, wetting agents and mulch are all used when planting in dry areas to minimise watering requirements.
  • One of the main criteria considered when choosing plant species is drought tolerance. Plants are also chosen for their longevity, and when possible, planting is done in autumn to reduce the input of resources such as water required for the establishment phase.
  • Water bills are monitored for changes in water use so that eg possible leaks can be investigated.
  • The “Cloudmaster” watering and lighting control system has been installed. The computer/remote controlled system helps conserve water and electricity by enabling irrigation and floodlighting at our sportsgrounds to be programmed more accurately.
  • An underground water storage tank has been installed at Chatswood Rotary War Memorial Athletic Field. The Lane Cove Tunnel intersects the passage of groundwater which used to be collected, treated to a very high water quality standard and then discharged into Lane Cove River. The treated water is now captured and transferred to the tank to be used for irrigating the field. As part of a future project, the stored water will be connected to the amenities blocks.
  • Two dams have been built at Northbridge Golf Course to supply water for the course.

Weed Control

  • Where weeds have grown in pockets of soil that has accumulated amongst rocky surfaces, control is achieved by scraping the soil away from the rock rather than by using herbicides.
  • A plan to use treatments other than herbicides has been formulated for other patchy areas of weeds eg weedy gaps between roadways and fences in laneways can be planted, turfed, covered with bitumen or mulched.
  • Mulch and weedmat is used to prevent weed growth. The weedmat used is made from recycled textiles.
  • Competition from weeds is reduced by choosing thick growing strappy leafed plants, and by using a planting distance that results in complete ground cover.


Sixteen 6m high solar powered lights were installed at Naremburn Park in 2009 which define the park boundaries, and also follow the path of the circuit track providing unobtrusive illumination for walkers. A solar collector at the top of each light charges a battery providing approximately 12 hours of lighting, and a sensor switches the lights on and off according to the ambient light levels.

Several solar bollard lights have been installed at Kenneth Slessor Park in 2016 to highlight the footpath


We now use some sustainable horticultural practices in Council’s rose gardens, such as the use of organic fertilisers and mulches, using pruning techniques which reduce the likelihood of disease and the use of predatory wasps and bicarbonate of soda/organic oils (biodegradable products) for pest and disease control (there is evidence of the presence of the wasp in the Garden of Remembrance).


One of the principles of the Sustainability Charter is that sustainability is more likely to be achieved if local communities work together, and if there are connections within the community. Council’s Parkcare, Bushcare, Streetcare and free Guided Bushwalks programmes encourage these connections.

Designs for new parks and landscape upgrades are based on responses received following community consultation, and parks provide important social and recreational opportunities. Park upgrades include creation of “conversation areas” and meeting areas as well as installation of BBQs, seating and pathways with the aim of bringing neighbourhoods together.

Playgrounds provide a chance for children to meet other children and for carers to socialise. They are a place where parent’s groups can meet, families and friends can celebrate birthdays, and Council community events can be held. There are parents who played in Willoughby’s playgrounds as children, who now supervise their own children in the same parks. These public spaces are especially important as areas of medium to high density housing are increasing.