Large Tree Planting Guide

Autumn often has us thinking of planting new trees as we admire the stunning burnt orange and gold leaves of autumn, and it happens to be the best time to plant them too. Autumn is natures planting time, a tree planted now will put on healthy root growth before winter so it will be all ready to jump into growth when spring arrives.

Shopping list: Tui Garden Mix, Tui Peat Plus, Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic, Tui Mulch & Feed, Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser, large tree, stakes, and ties.

From magnificent Magnolias to majestic Norfolk pines, trees have enhanced the New Zealand landscape for generations and there is a variety to suit any style or site. Even on a small section a large tree can make a beautiful feature to be enjoyed for years to come.

Large trees are not only a beautiful addition they can be used practically to provide shade, shelter and privacy. When choosing your tree think carefully about how once fully grown the tree will work in your backyard, it seems obvious but large trees need a large space! Other things to consider are flowers, foliage, fruit, deciduous (so that in winter it lets extra light into your house and you get beautiful autumn colour), height, spread, fast growing, native or exotic varieties.

As always make sure it is suitable to plant in your soil, climate (frost or drought) and location (coastal etc.) as this is crucial for performance and survival. Your local garden centre or nursery will be able to help you choose the perfect tree.

Some of our all-time favourite varieties

  • Copper Beech – A large dome-shaped deciduous tree with rich deep purple-black foliage that infuses beauty and colour into your garden. The foliage during spring and summer and bare framework in winter make this tree very picturesque. Well suited to large landscapes, these Copper Beech trees grow slowly but develop into low maintenance shade trees.
  • Crab Apple – a deciduous tree that belongs under Malus genus, Crab Apple is famous for its colourful, fragrant bloom in spring.
  • Elm – a deciduous tree with great character that will add interest to your backyard. There are many varieties of elm tree, including colourful golden and variegated forms, and graceful weeping and horizontal types. They include some of the noblest and most ornamental species that perform well under adverse growing conditions.
  • Kahikatea – An ideal specimen tree, Kahikatea is the tallest native tree in New Zealand reaching 60m in height and therefore gives a lot of presence. Kahikatea is a good option for larger areas, particularly those with swampy conditions.
  • Liquidamber – Commonly known as Sweetgum this tree is one of the finest deciduous trees for autumn colour. It has a picturesque branch pattern, stunning orange/red/purple foliage (depending on the variety) and a beautiful fragrance up close.
  • Magnolia Grandilora – a large evergreen tree with beautiful foliage - glossy green leaves with large cup-like white, cream or blush flowers which bloom in spring. A truly majestic tree. Varieties range from 5 – 9m and take 10 years to reach maturity.
  • Maple – A beautiful tree famous for its unmatched design and colour of their leaves, highly decorative stems and diversity of form. Maple tree varieties range from low spreaders through to small and intermediate shrubs to mighty trees.
  • Oak – for stunning autumn colour and large scale, the mighty Oak is a symbol of strength and durability. The tree’s thick trunks and massive limbs make the reasonably fast growing Oak a very impressive tree.
  • Pohutakawa – This tree produces what is commonly known as the New Zealand Christmas tree with its vibrant red flowers. Of the Metrosideros genus this tree is available from tall trees to smaller shrub types, mountain and climbing forms.
  • Puriri – known as New Zealand Mahogany or oak with large colourful flowers. Puriri are large trees that grow up to 20m. Found in the North Island. Great for attracting wood pigeons.


Large trees also need a large area for their roots to develop and grow, don’t plant large trees in a small area. Consider the best site for the plant - are you wanting it to be a feature at the end of your lawn, or are you planting to shade your outdoor area from the hot summer sun. Also check what is above and beneath where you are planting. Avoid planting under powerlines or above pipes and drains, Pohutukawas are notorious for lifting tiles and causing plumbing nightmares when planted in the wrong spot!

Planting a tree might seem very straightforward, but if done wrong it is often the difference between rapid establishment and a slow, lacklustre start. A poorly planted tree or shrub may never reach its full potential. Follow our step by step guide to give your tree the best start.


  1. Soak in a bucket of Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic to help reduce transplant shock.
  2. Dig a hole at least twice the depth and width as the root ball of the tree.
  3. Partly fill the hole with Tui Peat Plus. Tui Peat Plus is premium New Zealand Peat Moss with the added benefits of blood and bone and gypsum. These healthy additions add nutrients to your soil and improve plant growth. Gypsum aids in breaking up compacted soils and assists with root growth, while blood and bone is a great source of nitrogen.
  4. Remove the plant from its container. Gently loosen the root ball of the tree.
  5. Place the plant in the hole with the top of the root ball at ground level, adjusting the soil level in the base of the hole to accommodate the plant at the correct level.
  6. Fill with Tui Garden Mix.
  7. Apply a layer of Tui Mulch & Feed to help retain moisture and protect roots from drying out.
  8. Stake the new tree, taking care not to damage roots as you hammer them in place. Staking is important for most young trees to anchor the plant against wind while the roots get established. The best way is to have two or three stakes, evenly spaced around the tree, just outside the root ball. A single stake can result in damage via the tree rubbing against the stake. Tie firmly with flexible ties/webbing. On windy sites, windbreak or frost protection cloth may be necessary for the first few years. (Refer image above).
  9. Water your tree well.


Fertilise your trees each spring and autumn with Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser and Tui Super Sheep Pellets. Every six months or yearly apply Tui Mulch & Feed around the base.

Many trees won’t require yearly pruning but you can prune to shape and control its size as required. If you don’t want the tree to get too large keep on top of this as once the tree has got away on you you’ll need to call in a professional arborist.

Tui Tips

  • In poorly drained soil, plant on built up mounds to provide extra drainage.
  • Some plants, such as conifers, do not like having their roots disturbed.
  • Exactly how you plant will depend on the plants specific needs, the prevailing climate and soil type.
  • Large trees are not overly susceptible to pest and diseases however you may need to protect from marauding rabbits or possums and shelter from strong prevailing winds.

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