Bringing Back the Bush

Bringing back the Bush is the title of the book (currently out of print) written by Joan Bradley about the practices she and her sister Eileen developed as they set about restoring weed-invaded bushland in a reserve in Mosman in the 1960s.

These two remarkable women, the Bradley sisters, laid down a set of principles of bush regeneration that still form the framework for the rehabilitation of degraded bushland today.

These principles are known collectively as the Bradley Method.

Modern bush regenerators have added some techniques to the Bradley Method, including:

  • the judicious and minimal use of herbicides, which results in less soil disturbance than hand removal of roots,
  • less dependence on mulching, which may discourage native plant regeneration: many natives need bare soil and light to germinate, and
  • the planting of local native species where the bush no longer has the resilience to regenerate naturally, or where soil erosion is likely.

Principles of Bush Regeneration (the Bradley method)

Always work from areas with good native plants towards weed-infested areas.

  • Where weeds are minimal, weed seeds are minimal.
  • Where the number of native plants is the maximum, so is the soil seed bank of native plants.
  • As you work towards more degraded areas, the native plant seeds follow you into the areas you have weeded.

Create minimal disturbance.

  • Remove weeds by hand.
  • Mulch the ground to suppress regrowth.
  • Carefully replace soil in its original layers.
  • Weeds are encouraged by disturbance of the ground layer.

Let the rate of regeneration of native plants determine the rate of weed removal

Too rapid clearing will lead to masssive germination of weeds, and much of your time has to be spent in re-weeding the site to give regenerating natives a chance.