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Contributed by Jesse Vandenbosch, Committee Member, Big Scrub Landcare

On the north coast in areas where frost is not considered to be common or particularly fierce the planting of rainforest trees is most favoured around March (Autumn). At this time of year daytime temperatures have decreased and typically soil moisture is reasonable giving advantageous growing conditions for plant establishment.

However in frosty areas it has been demonstrated that planting in spring yields the best results. It allows a slightly more diverse species mix, giving all plants a growing season to establish prior to potential frost. A well-mulched tree that has been watered in and then re-watered in the initial 10 days depending on soil moisture and weather at the time. i.e. if daytime temperatures have exceeded 30ºC or drying winds, will see good plant establishment. Learn More…

If it’s a Spring planting you prefer, make sure you give your local wholesale rainforest nursery some notice so you get the plants you want and you’re mindful of that initial establishment period.

A bias towards pioneer and secondary succession species to get quick establishment is recommended in the order of 50%. Pioneer species are heavily predated and are very productive, cycling a lot of leaf mass and set a lot of seed. This has the effect of building the soil biomass from insect predator excrement, spent leaf and also the amount of bird species that feed on these early successional species this means that they bring in seed from adjoining native trees which later germinate when the pioneer species senesce or certain conditions are met.

When preparing the planting a practice commonly used by restoration contractors is to spray circles where the tree is to be planted with herbicide several weeks prior to planting in order to both aid in digging and limit maintenance requirements following planting. Brush cut the dead grass with a blade on the whipper snipper to scalp to bare earth. Dig holes with a one-person petrol auger with a 100m auger bit attached for ease of digging, ensure auger is moved side to side during digging to widen hole and prevent glazing.

Large-scale plantings with water easily accessible have been employing a wet hole planting technique, whereby the hole is filled prior to planting as opposed to top watering. The former prevents air pockets and promotes good soil to root contact. Mulching with hay will limit maintenance requirements for the planting.

Follow up management and maintenance after planting or primary weed removal is the key to all successful restoration projects.

Follow up works are conducted after the primary weed control or tree planting has been completed. This generally involves the spot spraying of newly germinating weeds and re-sprouting sections of woody weeds and vines. This will occur at intervals, which will vary according to the weed and the growing conditions. Spring and summer are peak periods for weed germination and for growth. Concentrate weed efforts by visiting site during these times to determine what progress the vegetation is making and decide when to undertake follow-up work. The more frequently follow up occurs the less herbicide that is required.

Experienced bush regeneration contractors and landholders will recognise weeds at rosette and in some circumstances cotyledon stage and are mindful of young rainforest seedlings. This minimises herbicide usage.

If you would like some help formulating a property plan, devising an appropriate species list or need someone to undertake assisted natural regeneration on your property, please contact us at Big Scrub Regen: Ecological Restoration Service.