Native plants and wildlife
By using native plants, you'll enhance your garden and help preserve New Zealand's unique wildlife.
By using native plants in your garden, you can:
- preserve native species, some of which are threatened
- enhance the appearance of your garden
- reduce the amount of care your garden needs
- provide homes for natw wive birds and insect life.
Why plant or retain native plants?
Benefits to you
Because they're adapted to New Zealand conditions, native plants can provide benefits that exotic plants do not.
Some native plants, for example, are highly effective at absorbing stormwater runoff and protecting soil from erosion.
Plants that are adapted to local conditions may need less care and attention, such as less watering. They'll be hardier and more likely to survive than plants that aren't suited to local conditions and that makes them lower maintenance.
Benefits to the environment
More than 80% of New Zealand's native plant species aren't found anywhere else in the world. Many of New Zealand's bird species and other wildlife are also unique.
With the expansion of urban areas and increasingly intensive land use, many of the ecosystems that support these unique species are disappearing. You may be able to help reverse this decline. This is particularly important if your property adjoins or is near an area of ecological significance such as a wetland or regenerating bush.
By maintaining links between your garden and nearby bush and other ecosystems, you can provide a 'green corridor' for birds and other wildlife.
Protecting what's there
It's easier to protect existing native vegetation than to replant later. Once you've removed native vegetation, you won't be able to restore the entire range of native plants that was there before.
Clearing plants can also increase the risk of erosion and stormwater runoff.
You can minimise your impact on existing native plants by:
- designing your home to cause the least disturbance to the land and waterways on your site - for example by keeping the building's footprint as small as possible, minimising excavations or building on poles on steep bush-clad sites.
- designing your outdoor areas to have minimal impact - a deck overlooking bush for example may be more appropriate than clearing bush to establish a lawn, and it's a good idea to keep driveways and other paved areas well away from tree roots and drip lines.
- making sure your builders and any other contractors minimise their impact on the site. See Minimising pollution and site impacts for more.
If you do disturb any part of the site during the building process, you can keep the topsoil and salvage any plants so you can use them to rehabilitate the affected areas later.
Weeds and pests
Weeds and pests are major threats to New Zealand's native plants and animals.
New Zealand has strict border controls to limit the deliberate and accidental importation of plants, insects and animals that might cause serious impact on New Zealand's ecosystem and agricultural industries.
Weeds come onto the property as passengers with potted or bagged plants, as seeds in bird droppings, mixed with mud on vehicles, attached to clothes and footwear, blown by the wind or stranded by a flood. They compete with native plants for air, space, water and nutrients.
The MPI Biosecurity New Zealand is the country's first line of defence against unwanted pests and plants.
Weeds can invade all types of native vegetation habitat in the country and threaten their viability.
To find out which plants are classed as pests in your area, and how to deal with them, contact the biosecurity officer of your regional council.
Garden waste containing weeds unsuitable for composting should be taken to an approved landfill or transfer station, burnt or buried - not dumped.
If you observe an unfamiliar plant spreading out of control report it to your regional council. You could prevent a serious plant pest problem.
Animal pests - possums, cats, stoats, weasels, hedgehogs, magpies, rooks and rats - threaten native birds, wetas, huhu, moths, cicadas and lizards.
A regional council biosecurity officer can help with possum control.
Cats are significant predators of native wildlife. If you have a cat, keep it inside at night. Some communities now ban cats.
Protected plants and wildlife
Ask your regional council's biosecurity officer about the protection of plants and wildlife on your property.
Many local and regional councils have restrictions on the sizes and species of trees that can be felled. Often it is not only natives that are protected. It pays to check before starting the chainsaw. You could receive a hefty fine for illegal destruction of protected vegetation.
From Smarter Homes
- Landforms and waterways
- Rural sites
- Planting and landscaping
- Outdoor water use
- Managing stormwater
- Exterior design
From Consumer Online
- Garden and gardening advice; for information on gardening.
Note: you may need to be a subscriber to access some of this information.
From other sites
Your regional or local council will have information about plants for local conditions. Links to council websites can be found on the Local Government Online website.
The Landcare Research website has databases on plants in New Zealand.
The Department of Conservation website has information about native plants and wildlife.
The Weedbusters website has information about reducing the threat of weeds to New Zealand's natural environment.