Expert Tips for Spring Tree Care in New Zealand

Trees often referred to as the lungs of our planet, play a vital role in maintaining the balance of life. One of mother nature’s most productive industrious workers — a single full-grown leafy tree can produce as much oxygen in spring as 10 people inhale in a year!

It’s important for New Zealanders to give back to Mother Nature by caring for her. Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just beginning your green thumb journey, we are excited to share some simple, yet effective tree care tips.

Our expert tree care tips will help you create a healthier, happier environment for your trees to ensure they grow to their full potential this spring season.

From understanding unique tree needs to providing the right nutrients and attention your trees deserve. Let’s embark on this botanical adventure and make your trees the talk of the town in no time!

6 Arborist Tips on How to Care for Trees this Spring

Caring for trees is as crucial as planting trees. It sets the tone for their health and growth throughout the year. Here are six expert arborist tree care tips for spring in New Zealand:

1. Inspect Trees for Damage

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Begin your spring tree care with a thorough inspection of your trees. Look for signs of storm damage, fungal diseases, or pest infestation. Early problem detection can prevent minor issues from becoming significant problems, safeguarding the health and longevity of your trees.

Look for dead branches that are not blooming with flowers or not flowering with leaves like the rest of the branches, also look for deadwood in the canopy.

2. Prune Your Trees Effectively

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Tree pruning is an essential part of tree care. In order to prune trees you need to remove dead, damaged, or diseased branches to promote healthy growth and improve the tree’s overall shape. Doing this reduces the risk of disease spread and enhances the tree’s structural integrity.

Wondering how to prune a tree? Here’s how you can prune a tree yourself:

  • Use a sharp tool to make pruning cuts at a slight angle above an outward-facing bud or branch collar.

  • Remove dead or diseased branches, also cut back any branches that are competing for space or light.

  • Regularly inspect trees for broken branches or signs of disease, and prune accordingly.

Even if your trees are completely healthy you can still trim the rough edges to make the tree look nicer. To do this spring cleaning you should use sharp, clean pruning shears to remove any overgrown or unwanted branches at their base.

Follow the tree’s natural shape for an aesthetically pleasing and healthy structure. Also, add new plants around the tree to make the place look pleasing.

3. Mulching – It’s the Best Time to Do It!

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Mulching is the process of covering the soil surrounding a tree with a layer of organic material, such as bark chips, leaves, or compost to improve the soil structure. It helps prevent soil erosion, retains soil moisture, and provides essential nutrients to your trees.

Our arborists recommend using organic mulch because doing this will not only help your trees grow better but also contribute to a more sustainable environment.

Wondering how to do tree mulching in early spring? Here is how you can effectively mulch your trees:

  • Clear away any debris or plants from the base of the tree.

  • Spread a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around the tree in a doughnut shape, keeping it away from the trunk.

  • Water deeply and regularly to allow the mulch to settle and provide moisture for the roots.

4. Ensure Proper Tree Hydration

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Did we surprise you? Proper watering is crucial for the survival and growth of not just small plants and flowers but also trees. Water deeply to encourage deep root growth.

Doing this ensures your trees are adequately hydrated, especially during the early spring and the upcoming summer months, promoting healthier, more resilient trees.

5. Choose and Apply the Right Fertiliser

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Fertilising your trees in spring provides them with the nutrients they need to thrive. However, don’t just use any fertiliser, you are best to use one that is specially for the type of tree and the soil on your property. Using the right tree fertiliser enhances tree health, ensuring they have the energy they need for the spring season.

6. Boost Soil with Quality Compost

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Many trees, like the New Zealand tea tree, benefit from soil amendments. At the start of the spring season, it is recommended that you enrich your soil with compost to enhance fertility and drainage. This method, rooted in science, promotes sustainable gardening practices and healthier trees.

How to Care for New Zealand’s Native Trees

Kahikatea Tree

  • Spring Care: Ensure the Kahikatea tree is in a partially shaded to full sun location with moist soil. Apply mulch and feed around the base once or twice a year. Pruning can be done for shaping and size control, but avoid extensive root pruning as these trees are sensitive to it.

  • Identification: Kahikatea is New Zealand’s tallest native tree. It’s tall and slender with a straight trunk, small scale-like leaves arranged in spirals, tiny cones, and a unique ‘peg-like’ bark texture.

Rimu Tree

  • Spring Care: Nourish the Rimu tree with compost-amended soil and place it in a shaded area with good drainage. Water it thoroughly and deeply, especially in drier areas.

  • Identification: Look for drooping branches with small and narrow needle-like leaves and a red-brown bark. Its distinct fruit, a red fleshy aril with a single seed, distinguishes this tree.

Tōtara Tree

  • Spring Care: Water the Tōtara tree thoroughly and fertilise it with compost-amended soil. It’s slow-growing, so pruning isn’t necessary unless you want to shape it.

  • Identification: This large evergreen tree has bark that peels off in papery flakes, needle-like leaves arranged in two opposite pairs along the stem, large branches, and roundish cones.

Kauri Tree

  • Spring Care: In spring, avoid disturbing the soil around Kauri’s roots and maintain distance from the delicate root zone. To prevent the spread of Kauri dieback disease, stay on designated paths and avoid closed areas.

  • Identification: The towering Kauri reaches up to 50 meters in height and has spear-shaped, deep green, leathery leaves, and small round cones often found beneath the tree.

Kōwhai Tree

  • Spring Care: Place the Kōwhai tree in full sun and avoid overwatering. Encourage root growth with monthly liquid feeding and consider light pruning to maintain its shape.

  • Identification: The Kōwhai is known for its bright yellow, nectar-rich flowers that bloom in spring and compound leaves with small leaflets.

Pūriri Tree

  • Spring Care: Ensure regular watering using rainwater, bottled spring water, or filtered tap water. Inspect for damaged branches and check their moisture levels.

  • Identification: Recognise the Pūriri by its broad, glossy green leaves and large pink to dark red flowers that bloom year-round. Oval or round berries also indicate this tree.

The magnificence of trees cannot be overstated, especially in a picturesque country like New Zealand with its diverse and unique flora. Trees are not just aesthetic marvels; they are ecological powerhouses that contribute significantly to our environment. Caring for them is not merely a responsibility but a privilege. As we’ve unveiled, tree care is not a one-size-fits-all approach, especially considering the unique characteristics of New Zealand’s native trees. Each tree has its own set of needs, and with the right knowledge and practices, we can ensure they continue to flourish. Remember, every effort you make in nurturing these green giants goes a long way in preserving the natural beauty of our land. Let’s commit to creating greener spaces, one tree at a time. Whether you’re tending to the majestic Kahikatea or the vibrant Kōwhai, every act of care is a step towards a more verdant New Zealand.

Picture of Dylan Heath

Dylan Heath

Dylan Heath is a fully qualified arborist with over 13 years of experience working in both the private and local council sectors. He comes with a wealth of knowledge, skill and passion for arboriculture.