Planting your native habitat

When planting, you should aim to replicate the native habitats that occur naturally in your area.

To discover what would have originally grown in your area, and to gain inspiration for your own native habitat, visit a local bush reserve.

Bird-friendly gardens

Here's a quick run-down of what our birds like to feast on-

Nectar eaters
Tui, bellbird, waxeye - kowhai, fuchsia,flax, rata, cabbage tree, kohuhu, lemonwood

Fruit eaters
Tui, bellbird, waxeye, kereru - coprosma,pepperwood, broadleaf, wineberry, totara,
kahikatea, cabbage tree, fuchsia.

Leaf, flower and fruit eaters
kereru - lowland ribbonwood, kowhai, wineberry, cabbage tree, fuchsia.

Insect eaters
fantail, grey warbler, brown creeper - all vegetation, particularly tangly shrubs like

It is important that your plants are eco-sourced - from seeds or cuttings collected from local, wild origins. Many native plants have evolved their own distinctive forms and characteristics in different regions, and are adapted to cope with local conditions.

By planting local forms you will help preserve your area's unique botanical diversity - and your plants have better chance of thriving.

Specialist native plant nurseries or your local Forest & Bird branch can help you locate locally eco-sourced plants.

If you're buying plants from a commercial nursery, avoid hybrids and cultivars - stick to natural forms of plant species.

If you're planting a big area, dense planting is advised (approximately 1.5m apart). When plants become established, you can thin them out, creating light wells so that larger plants have enough space and light to grow and flourish.

Some plants will be "sacrificial" (fast-growing colonizers and relatively short-lived plants; koromiko, whau, native brooms, toetoe, makomako/wineberry, ngaio) when you plant. Dense planting to begin with provides cover and keeps weeds down.

Start by planning the eventual heights and widths of plants you want and select plants to suit. You can easily grow them yourself from seeds or cuttings or buy them from a plant nursery.

Plan your garden with the intention of it being there for a century or more. Short-term planning often results in pruning and cutting trees down within only a few years of planting if they shade and crowd out houses, paths, gardens and views.

Deciduous trees (kowhai, tree fuchsia/kotukutuku Fuchsia excorticata, deciduous tree daisy Olearia hectorii, ribbonwood Plagianthus regius and mountain lacebark Hoheria lyallii) will add shade in summer but let in light in winter.

Some plants (most ferns, miro, matai, tawa, kawakawa, porokaiwhiri/pigeonwood, nikau palms, kohekohe) initially dislike full sun but you can still grow these plants by using the shade of fast-growing nursery plants (ngaio, tree lucerne or makomako/wineberry, karamu) or by using shade cloth for initial cover.

Mulch heavily after you've planted and watered. This limits evaporation, softens the impact of heavy rainfall, helps keep weeds down, and retains and contributes nutrients.

Mulch can be in the form of compost, bark, newspaper, grass clippings, seaweed, old hessian-based carpet underfelt or a mixture of the above.

Please note: some councils (such as Wellington Council) provide native plants free of charge for road reserves.