Looking after your native seedlings

Help your native seedlings thrive by protecting them from weeds and pests. Maintain and monitor your plantings to help them survive.

Protect your native seedlings

Once you have planted your native seedlings, there are things you can do to help your plants thrive. These include:

  • Put mats or mulch around each plant to slow down weeds, trap moisture and protect roots from frost. Use materials that can biodegrade naturally, such as layers of newspaper, staked down cardboard, coconut mat, wool or old wool carpets. Be careful if you use straw or dead vegetation as they may contain weed seeds. Keep mulch away from the base of each plant. 
  • Install plant protectors or guards to help protect your seedlings from wind, pests like rabbits and hares and smothering by grass. Plant guards can also protect your plants from herbicides and mechanical damage during maintenance.
  • Put a stake beside your plants to make them easier to find and identify.
  • Hand weed or carefully spray around each plant 1 or 2 times a year to remove competing weeds.

Remove weeds

Removing weed growth from around your plants is important during their first 2 to 3 years. After 3 years, plants need less maintenance but you need to check for climbing weeds as these can be an ongoing threat to plant survival.

Release spraying with herbicides

Native trees are very susceptible to herbicides. If you use sprays to control weeds, then you need to take care that the chemicals do not go onto the plant itself. To help with this, you can:

  • spray out from the plant (not towards the plant)
  • use a spray nozzle with a narrow fan
  • make a handheld guard to protect your plant from spray
  • spray on a still day to prevent spray drift.

Monitor your seedlings

Walk around your planting area and check the survival rate of your plants 4 times a year for the first 2 years. Keep track of what plants survive and thrive and what does not grow well for future planting.

Tree losses

If you have had large losses of trees in an area, you may need to replant. First work out what has caused the loss, then you can plan what needs to be replanted. Your regular inspections may show what the issue has been, such as pests, weeds, plant species selection or weather.

Depending on what caused the losses, you may need to replant with a different species that is more appropriate for that location. Our planting advice page details who can help with chosing the correct species.

Watch Trees that Count's video for tips on how to maintain and monitor your native tree planting projects.

Our pages on pests, weeds and tree diseases have more information on pest and weed control.

Tane's Tree Trust's have a technical handbook on planting and managing native trees.