Planting Tips & Tricks


We'll Get You Growing

Buying your plants is the easy part! Your site preparation and maintenance post-planting is just as important to achieving the best results. 

Not sure whether a plant is right for the site? Need some help with your preparations? Take advantage of our expertise and take away any uncertainty. 

Have a read through our general tips below, or get in touch if you have specific questions about your project.  


Before Planting

Weed control

Effective weed control is essential for new plantings. The goal is to eliminate unwanted species that may compete for moisture and nutrition in the soil. Mark out your proposed planting area and clear weeds from the site prior to planting. You can spray with a non-residual herbicide. Glyphosate herbicide is a popular option, eg. Roundup or Grosafe Knockdown®. Multiple applications may be necessary, let the weeds re-grow then repeat your spraying.

Add organic matter

When creating a new bed or changing an existing one, adding organic matter is a great idea. Compost is an excellent way to do this, mix with your existing topsoil when planting. You may need to alter the pH of your soil too. Check with the Southern Woods team, as various species will prefer acid or alkaline soils.

Poor drainage?

There are a number of ways to improve drainage on your site. In many cases, the easiest step is to dig over or rotary hoe your garden bed. Gypsum can be mixed with existing soil to help break up the clay. For particularly damp or heavy sites, you can raise your gardens up slightly, using mounds, rocks or sleepers for example. It’s important to allow excess water to flow away from the base of the plant.


Plant Selection

It is important to take into consideration the area’s conditions, such as temperature, frost, wind, soil type, drainage, irrigation, sunlight, shade and space for your mature plant.

Observing successful plant species in your surrounding area will give you a good idea of what will grow well in your region. Check out what looks great in your neighbour’s yard!  

If you’re in Christchurch, check out this interactive map to learn about your local eco-system and corresponding plant species.

We hope you find this website useful as a reference guide for planning your projects. It has up to date availability, growth information and the ability to order directly online. 


Planting Trees & Shrubs

Check your plants are moist

It’s important the roots of all your plants are moist prior to planting. 

Tip – When planting new plants, soak the root ball in a bucket of water & double strength seaweed concentrate. To ensure the water has soaked through, wait until all air bubbles have stopped. The liquid seaweed stimulates root growth and helps with transplant shock. 

Fertiliser gives your plant the best possible start

Plant with a slow-release 10g fertiliser tablet (eg Grotabs)  Use one tablet per 30 cm of tree height, ensuring it’s not directly touching the roots. CompostLiquid Fertilisers are great additions at this stage too. 

Digging your hole & planting

Dig the hole twice the width of the root ball, loosening the soil at bottom. As a general rule, trees should be transplanted no deeper than the soil in which they were originally grown. 

Some plants can be planted deeper – like eucalyptus, pines, poplars & willows, burying part of the stem.

Field-grown plants are planted in winter, these need to be planted as soon as possible after collection. If you are held up planting, unpack them and water if necessary, dig into the vegetable garden until you’re ready to plant.


Staking, Irrigation, Mulch & Shelters


Larger specimen trees need to be staked. Place 2-4 Timber Stakes 30-40cm out from the trunk of the tree. The webbing needs to be attached to each stake and around the trunk of the tree to keep the root ball firm in the ground. Stakes should face the prevailing wind, and be removed after 12-24 months.


As a general rule, plants require a deep watering twice a week, a good long soak is more beneficial than a light watering. Consider setting up a dripline irrigation system for hedge lines.

Adapt your plant’s irrigation requirements to your site & climate – take into account seasonal rainfall and drainage. 


Mulch is fantastic for moisture retention and weed suppression, adding a finished look to your garden. Apply mulch approx 10cm deep, if you are using straw as mulch, soak before using. Avoid contact between mulching material and the stem of the plant. Organic mulches need to be reapplied occasionally as they decompose.

We don’t recommend plastic weed mat, it’s detrimental to your soil health. 

Tree Protection

Use Tree Shelters and Plant Guards to protect plants from hares & rabbits, spray drift & the elements.