Why and how to maintain your native planting project

This month we’ll discuss maintaining your plantings, the methods to use, and when to conduct maintenance and for how long.

What is maintenance and why is it important?

The maintenance of young native plants in the first two to three years of their life is often overlooked and can come back to bite you.

Maintenance involves clearing or releasing the weeds and grasses from around the plant that are competing for light and nutrients. Releasing can be done through manual or chemical methods and this simple procedure is the most important thing you can do to ensure the best survival of your native plants.

Maintenance may also involve controlling other weeds throughout the retired area or riparian margin, such as great bindweed, gorse, blackberry, woolly nightshade, honeysuckle and other common invasive weeds. Climbing weeds in particular can be an ongoing threat to plant survival.

How to perform maintenance

Manual releasing 

Manual releasing is performed by pulling out any weeds or grasses directly around the plant. The weeds can be left to rot down around the plant and act as mulch. Putting mats or mulch around each plant also slows down weeds, traps moisture and protects roots from frost. Use recycled biodegradable materials such as layers of newspaper, staked down cardboard, coconut mat, wool or old wool carpets.

Selective herbicides 

Selective herbicides are one of the most effective ways to release native plants. The most common selective sprays used for releasing native plants are grass selective and broadleaf selective sprays.

Grass selective sprays are very safe to use around most native plants, although care must be taken when spraying around flax, native grasses and sedges, cabbage tree and toe toe. Broadleaf sprays are safe to use around sedges, flax, and toe toe to control broadleaf weeds but some care must be taken when used around other natives.

Broad spectrum herbicides 

Native trees are very susceptible to broad spectrum herbicides such as glyphosate. When using broad spectrum sprays, you need to take care that the chemicals do not get on the plant. Using a spray guard to minimise wind drift is recommended.

We use and recommend a combination of manual releasing and selective herbicides. This is both efficient and provides good results allowing the natives to thrive when they have no competition.

Maintenance should be performed at least twice a year during spring and autumn when weeds and grasses are actively growing. Good things take time and putting the mahi on maintenance will pay dividends later on.

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