Give plants the best start with early care

Posted on October 29, 2015

Establishing and nurturing plants through the first phase of their life requires particular care and attention.

Different species require varied approaches although there are common practices that help plants make it through their early days to become strong and thrive.

As planting experts, we work alongside Farmers, Foresters, Councils and more to deliver exceptional project outcomes. We ensure high survival rates by following strict and proven procedures, developed over 30 years in the industry.

Here are just some of our planting and post planting tips…

To plant

Dig a hole slightly larger than the size of the root ball of the plant. Make sure that there is some loose soil inside the hole. Place one or two slow release fertiliser tablets in the base of the hole. Place the plant in the hole with the top of the plant at ground level. Fill in any gaps with loose soil and lightly stamp the loose soil on top and around the trunk of the plant so the plant is held firmly and upright.

For wetland plants that are being planted under water, dig a hole in the soft mud and place the plant into the hole. Stamp lightly around the top of the plant. The plant will generally establish quickly due to the wet conditions that it is planted into. Make sure the species is adapted to the depth of water into which it is being planted. There is no need to use slow release fertiliser tablets for wetland species.

If the plant is a tree species, it is likely to require staking. The stake size and number of stakes is determined by the height of the plant and leaf canopy size of the plant. For smaller hedging type trees, a 1m long bamboo stake driven into the ground right beside the plant and then tied to the plant at 300-400mm intervals using tapener tape, works well. For larger plants, drive two or three hardwood stakes into the ground approximately 400mm from the trunk of the plant at equal distances around the circumference of the plant i.e. if using two stakes, drive them into the ground opposite each other in the line of the trunk of the plant, and if using three stakes, drive them in at triangle points around the circumference of the plant. Use jute or poly tree tie tape to tie the trunk of the plant to the hardwood stakes.


In general the plants will establish well with natural rainfall if planted during the autumn, winter and spring months. If a plant requires watering in, a 10 litre bucket of water poured around the trunk of the plant immediately after planting should be enough. If planting during the summer months, or if the area is likely to dry out severely during the summer, some form of irrigation may be required to establish and keep the plants growing. If the area is very dry, then it may be necessary to set up an irrigation system either using overhead sprinklers, drip line irrigation or drippers. A simple irrigation system may be run from a household tap. An irrigation system can also be set up with a low cost irrigation controller.

Post planting maintenance

It is a good idea to mulch plants to reduce evaporation of the soil and to suppress weeds. Use either pine chip or pine bark at a depth of 75-100mm to completely cover the surface area surrounding the plants.

To control weeds, preferably hand weed otherwise use a hand pump backpack sprayer, taking great care to keep any herbicides off the plants. Roundup (Glyphosate) is the preferred herbicide but should never be used by inexperienced operators and should only be used on calm, non-windy days. It is a good idea to add Terbuthylazine, which is a pre-emergent herbicide, with any Glyphosate spray, as this will continue to suppress weed germination for several weeks.

If grasses are the main weed problem, selective herbicides such as Gallant (Haloxyfop) can be used over most non grass species. If broad leaf weeds or clover are the main weed problem, Versatil (Clopyralid) can be used over most grass and tree species. Before using any selective herbicide, do a small trial on the species to be sprayed and wait three to four weeks before doing a general spray. Record the results of your trial for future reference.

Rabbits, hares, and opossums will chew certain plant species. To control these rodents either use poison or spray the plants with PlantSkydd every few weeks. If goats and deer are a problem and can’t be fenced out of the plantings, then place a tree protector around each individual plant. Pukekos, ducks, swans and Canadian Geese can severely damage many wetland species. It may be necessary to completely cover the wetland plants with bird netting to protect them from bird damage.

Most plants do not require post planting fertiliser. It is a good idea to use fertiliser tablets in the initial planting. If a plant does require fertiliser in the future, the simplest method is to place one or more slow release fertiliser tablets close to the trunk of the plant. The number of fertiliser tablets to depends on the tree size.

These are general tips. If you have specific questions about your planting project we have first-hand understanding of individual species and growing conditions and can recommend customised planting programs for your project. Call us today on 0800 125 287.