Planting and pest control go hand in hand (1)

Planting and pest control go hand in hand, so Barnaby gets stuck in!

What’s over your back fence? Is there a little spot nearby that could do with a little bit of love?

A hop, skip and a jump from the Philps family home is a small, special place where a little bit of love has made a whole lot of difference.

A little creek which forms part of Masterton’s storm water network, runs beneath a small white bridge alongside “The Crossing” between Cole St and Essex St. Eels live here, and it was the eels which drew the Philps kids to this spot in the first place.

“The kids love coming down here to feed the eels,” says their dad, Adam. “But we wondered how they got on in times of low flow when the weeds built up and filled in the creek. We noticed that the weeds didn’t get so bad in the shaded areas and we wondered if we could address the problem by providing more shade.”

So in 2021, the family approached the owners of the Lyndale Resthome whose land borders the creek. They shared their idea of planting up the area with native plants that would keep the water shaded and cool as well as promote bird and insect life around the creek. Not only did the owners give them the go ahead, but they also gave them money to buy the plants for the project.

Odell Surgue,  MDC’s Parks and Reserves Advisor, helped them to choose the right plants for the spaces and the family got to work. Now native grasses hang over the edges of the creek, flaxes protect the wetter parts of the soil, and larger shrubs and trees like Ti Kouka stand on the higher ground. 

“The area’s not far away from being self sustaining,” Adam says, although pest trapping and some weeding will be ongoing. “The key has been to keep it small and manageable. It’s given us a sense of kaitiakitanga and we love sharing it with friends and relations. Because the eels have more places to hide, it adds to the excitement whenever they pop out of a new bit of habitat. It’s just one of the little things that makes it a magical place for kids to grow up in.”

Adam encourages other families to get involved in a small biodiversity project of their own if they have a little spot they know about like this one – “naturally beautiful but needing some attention.”

“I’d encourage anyone who sees an opportunity like this one, to give it a go,” he says. “You might be surprised by other people’s willingness to say yes!”

Nā Ali Mackisack, WaiP2K

Photos by Adam Philips