Sustainable Horticulture at Melbourne General Cemetery

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A Sustainable Future for the Historic Melbourne General Cemetery

Client: Melbourne General Cemetery (MGC), managed by the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (SMCT).


Located in the centre of Melbourne lies the Melbourne General Cemetery (MGC), a site rich in history and significance managed by the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (SMCT).

In May 2023, Summit Services was honoured to be awarded the contract to join SMCT in their innovative endeavour known as Project Cultivate. This groundbreaking initiative set out to rejuvenate select areas of MGC through sustainable horticultural practices, revitalising the cemetery’s landscapes while promoting biodiversity and environmental sustainability.

This collaborative project has not only enhanced MGC’s natural beauty but has also fostered community engagement and environmental stewardship. From reducing herbicide usage to promoting biodiversity, Project Cultivate showcases the transformative power of collaboration and innovation in creating vibrant, biodiverse spaces within our cities.

Project Overview

Project Cultivate represents a significant endeavour to transform un-irrigated areas of MGC into thriving ecosystems. By using native plants matched to the ecological vegetation class of the area, along with organic mulch, the project aims to enhance biodiversity, reduce runoff, and minimise herbicide usage. Through close collaboration with stakeholders, including families, the local community and Traditional Owners, Project Cultivate is redefining cemetery landscapes while honouring their cultural significance.

Project Objectives

  • Revitalise selected areas of MGC through the strategic installation of indigenous understorey grassland plantings and organic mulch.
  • Create sustainable habitats that support local biodiversity and reduce reliance on herbicides for weed management.
  • Preserve and enhance the natural beauty of MGC, aligning with its historical and cultural heritage.
  • Foster community engagement and awareness of sustainable land management practices.

Project Outcome

Launched in May 2023, the pilot phase of Project Cultivate at MGC has yielded significant results and brought about remarkable changes in the cemetery, such as:

  • Herbicide usage reduced by 30%
  • Enhanced soil quality
  • Reduced erosion rates
  • Lowered ambient temperatures by up to 5°C
  • Increased insect activity
  • Increased population of Blue Tongue
  • Lizards
  • Increased visitation from small birds for feeding and gathering nesting materials

Project Cultivate has not only achieved its primary objectives but has also exceeded expectations by fostering a thriving ecosystem within MGC, promoting environmental sustainability, and preserving the site’s cultural heritage.

Progress and Future Works

Since May 2023, the progress of Project Cultivate has advanced significantly. With the mulching and planting activities in full swing, the total number of indigenous plants planted is around 227,000, with mulch covering approximately 58.23% of suitable areas within MGC. The remaining spaces are on track to be addressed by July 2024, with the overall project slated for completion by June 2025.


Project Cultivate exemplifies the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust’s commitment to sustainable land management and community engagement. By marrying environmental stewardship with historical preservation, this initiative is reshaping Melbourne’s cemetery landscapes for generations to come. Summit Services is incredibly proud to be involved in this transformative project, highlighting the importance of collaboration, innovation, and respect for cultural heritage in creating vibrant, biodiverse spaces within urban environments.

Ready to enhance your green spaces with sustainable and innovative solutions? Contact Summit Services today to learn how we can transform your landscapes into thriving, biodiverse environments. Reach out now to schedule a consultation and discuss your project.

Contact Summit today to discuss your requirements