How to Start a Native Plant Garden in New Zealand



In preferring native plants over introduced species, you can create a biodiversity-enhancing garden that is also low maintenance and a joy to grow. This article provides some suggested alternatives for you to try in place of the usual lawn or ground cover plants, as well as making use of that awkward space down the side of the house

Steps

  1. 1
    Aim for a low-mow or mow-free lawn. Let the following natives take place of your usual lawn:

    • Mercury Bay weed (Dichondra repens) - native to New Zealand and numerous other countries
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    • Dichondra brevifola
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    • Pratia angulata - white flowering plant
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    • Leptinella species - honey-scented
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    2
    Create sandy mounds for ground cover plants. Sandy mounds can easily be created in your garden using gravel covered with sand. This will replicate the conditions liked by many native ground cover plants and the plants will not require much watering or weeding. One plant suitable to grow on your mounds is Leptinella nana, a tiny cotula, which is quite endangered and would benefit greatly from you fostering it in your garden.
  3. 3
    Take advantage of frost-free areas of your garden space. The narrow strip running alongside your house and fence may seem "useless" to you but in many places, it offers a frost-free haven for a couple of frost tender native tree species. Clean the area up, add some ferns at ground level and consider planting two special deciduous natives down the side:

    • Aristotelia serrata, a local wineberry; and
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    • Fuschia excorticata, the tree fuchsia (see photo accompanying article)
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    4
    Maintain the garden by removing non-natives. This will allow the natives to take a stronger toehold and take over garden space previously occupied by non-native species. A little bit of effort up front will pay dividends in reduced maintenance down the track. Moreover, you will be contributing to the local biodiversity by creating homes and encouraging spaces for birds, lizards, butterflies and other species that make the most of native plants.

Tips

  • Visit native plant nurseries - they will have specialist knowledge of the plants suitable for your region, along with plants in stock for you to purchase. They will also have plants grown to suit local conditions and may even carry rare species that belong in your area and need a helping hand to reintroduce them in greater numbers. Let your garden be the source of a stronger native plant future!
  • If you are not sure what to plant in your area, contact a local landscaping or horticultural specialist to get advice on the most appropriate native species for your soil type, location and elevation.
  • It really helps to know what your native plants look like and what the introduced ones look like. Borrow books from the library to find out more. It is also really helpful to understand the ways in which introduced species crowd out and stress native plants, so that you can think twice about planting some of the more problematic species in your garden.

Things You'll Need

  • Native plants
  • Garden space

Article Info

Categories: Theme and Feature Gardens