School as a Catchment


Located in Melbourne’s West, the Deer Park North Primary School (DPNPS) ‘Schools as a Catchment’ project demonstrates the value that our educational institutions can play in better water management and sustainable urban landscaping. Supported by Round 2 of the Living Victoria Fund and delivered by the Victorian Association of Environmental Education (VAEE) and Josh Byrne & Associates (JBA), the project showcases integrated water management and urban greening via an on-ground demonstration project and a subsequent ‘School as a Catchment’ resource kit.

Urban Greening and Integrated Urban Water Management
The management of urban water and the need for increased green space are two topical issues in Australia. Gardens and water are inherently linked, with green space well recognised for its role in the control and improvement of urban water impacts, through reducing stormwater runoff, flood mitigation, soil erosion and pollution loads.

A wealth of research has demonstrated the benefits of urban greening, most recognisably the environmental, water and air quality improvements, but also valuable social attributes such as improved aesthetics, mental wellbeing and physical health.  Likewise there are a number of strong arguments for improved workplace and community productivity.

Water and vegetation are both recognised in reducing the urban heat island effect, which is where hard surfaces such as buildings, roads and concrete absorb heat causing them to be much warmer than surrounding vegetated areas. Deer Park North Primary School is located within the City of Brimbank where research has shown there is a very low amount of tree coverage and a high amount of bare ground. This project represents a school and local community based effort to address these issues.

Over the life of the project, several key demonstration projects will be built at the school, including a constructed wetland for treating stormwater runoff, a rain garden, an extensive productive garden and a community meeting space. The school will then continue to work to an urban greening master plan over the months and years ahead to significantly increase the level of tree canopy coverage, and to create a number of engaging, educational landscaped spaces on the grounds.

All project documentation, including landscape plans, design methodology and project costings will be packaged up as a digital resource kit and made available to schools around Victoria to inspire others to follow suit. 


Integrated Water System Report
At the commencement of the DPNPS ‘Schools as a Catchment’ project an Integrated Water System Report was developed to define a holistic and integrated approach to the management of water on the school site. As well as helping to rejuvenate key areas on the school campus it is designed for use by other schools as a methodology for implementing integrated water management outcomes.

Integrated Water System Report Download (3.1Mb)

Landscape Master Plan
The Landscape Master Plan showcases how the overall project will improved liveability through creative urban greening and how it can coexist with sustainable use of water resources.

Through a whole-of-water-cycle approach, unused areas of concrete and asphalt will be transformed into interactive and engaging learning spaces for the students, staff and local community.

A series of inter-related landscape projects will demonstrate strategies for shading, local food production, enhanced biodiversity, reduced stormwater runoff and best practice water efficiency measures.

DPNPS Landscape Master Plan Download (700Kb)

Productive Garden
The productive garden will provide hands-on opportunities for students, staff and local community to engage in organic food production in a dedicated and protected area for ease of management.

Key components include rotational vegetable beds for seasonal cropping, including beds for universal access, trellised fruit trees under planted with a diverse array of herbs, flowers and other companion species. Composting systems including bays, bin and worm farms for processing organic material and an outdoor teaching space for holding classes. Irrigation will be provided via a hydrozoned drip-line system fed from an existing rainwater tank, with mains water backup.

DPNPS Productive Garden Download (3.4Mb)

Constructed Wetland
Harsh, impervious concrete will be replaced with a ‘dampland depression’ type constructed wetland for capturing and filtering stormwater runoff. The area will be mass planted with native rushes, sedges and grasses, as well as a selection of trees for shade and bird habitat.

The existing 4m security fence will be reduced in height and softened with native plantings to create a welcoming arrival.

DPNPS Wetland Download (2.6Mb)

Community Hub
The adjacent ‘community hub’ area will be enhanced with deciduous shade trees for summer shade/winter light, and tables and benches positioned to foster socialising.

The existing 4m security fence along the front boundary will be reduced in height and softened with native plantings.

DPNPS Community Hub Download (2.6Mb)

Rain Garden
An exposed area between two classrooms will be transformed into a shaded space with the plantings sustained by redirecting the roof runoff from two near-by buildings. This simple ‘rain garden’ will reduce stormwater runoff and improve its quality, whilst creating a comfortable gathering area for play or classes.

DPNPS Rain Garden (2.7Mb)

Native Garden
The western end of the school grounds will be planted with a row of narrow trees to provide strategic shade to the adjacent gym building. A densely planted understory of native shrubs, grasses and groundcovers will present an attractive, green arrival to the school and enhance local biodiversity. The plants will be irrigated for establishment only, fed by an existing and underutilised tank.

DPNPS Native Planting (844Kb)

Grassed Courtyard and Sand Pit Play Area
Two underutilised areas near the school’s Sustainability Classroom and future Productive Garden will be retrofitted to create spaces for small group meetings and play.

The ‘grass courtyard’ will include mounded turf embankments for sitting/lying on and be shaded by a large deciduous tree.

The sand-play space will make use of existing timber bench seating and shade sails, plus reused washed sand. The surrounds will be enhanced with sensory plantings for colour and scent.

DPNPS Courtyard & Sand Pit (2.1 Mb)

DPNPS Irrigation Details (457Kb)
DPNPS Plant Schedule (2.04Mb)




Victorian Association of Environmental Education
The Victorian Association for Environmental Education (VAEE) is an independent, not-for-profit, membership-based organization that provides a voice for the environmental education sector in Victoria. VAEE offers professional support to, and promotes the development of, environmental education and sustainable behaviour change in both the formal education and community settings. VAEE supports schools by:

• Producing text books and practice exams for VCE Environmental Science

• Delivering teacher PD and student revision lectures

• Supporting teachers in their delivery of sustainability

• Connecting teachers through networks




Josh Byrne & Associates
Josh Byrne & Associates (JBA) provides a range of professional services and specialist expertise integrating the fields of landscape architecture, environmental engineering and sustainability, community engagement and communications. We’re based in Fremantle, Western Australia and operate nationally.


Warners Nurseries
For 100 years Warners has been helping Australians to create beautiful gardens that stand the test of time. With a focus on growing an extensive range of quality trees and shrubs for the horticultural industry, our business is built on delivering premium quality plants in combination with an exceptional customer experience.

While we do not sell direct to the public, you can find Warners plants at most reputable garden centres.



The Diggers Club
The Diggers Club began in 1978 and since then our mission has been to preserve and promote the best heirloom vegetables and garden worthy flowers. We are here to help Australian gardeners successfully grow beautiful and productive backyards.


At NewGrow we have over 40 combined years of landscape experience. Focussing on the soft landscapes, we’re able to work with civil, building or landscape companies allowing them to focus on the hard spaces. With skilled staff that are passionate and motivated about the industry, we will ensure the architects vision becomes a reality. Regardless of the type of project, with our staff specialised in softscapes we will add a quality finish to any job.

We’d also like to acknowledge input from the Project Reference Group which includes representatives from:
Melbourne Water
City West Water
Brimbank Council
Department of Education