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Site Preparation for Planting Seedlings

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Healthy Environments

Following some basic site preparation techniques will ensure your newly planted seedlings will have the best chance of survival for your site. 


If sheep and other livestock can access newly established revegetation the consequences can be devastating, as they will eat, trample and bring weeds into the site which puts pressure on the young and fragile seedlings. We recommend that your revegetation site is fully fenced prior to planting.

Rabbit control 

Rabbits should be controlled to keep them from devouring newly established seedlings, particularly on sandy sites and those adjacent to bushland. Reducing rabbit numbers during summer and autumn is highly recommended.

Weed control

Heavy weed burden on a planting site will greatly reduce your seedlings’ chances of success with weeds competing for light, moisture and nutrients. Studies have shown a decrease in early growth of seedlings of up to 70% when compared with weed free sites, and a decrease in expected a survival rates from 90%, to as low as 10%. 

Pre-planting weed control is essential and ideally this will start the year before planting. However, if you’ve already missed this window of opportunity it’s not too late to start now. For a direct seeding site, weed control should ideally take place for several seasons before seeding to increase establishment success although realistically this is not usually possible. 

A one metre diameter area around the seedling should remain weed free for at least two years after planting, using follow-up weed control activities like: 

  • mechanical methods such as scalping and cultivation 
  • herbicide application, considered to be the most efficient method in the WA Wheatbelt.


Your planting site should be sprayed at least twice before planting. If using a residual chemical during final spray the 25:25 rule should be followed, that is wait 25 days after application or wait for 25 mm of rain before planting (or seeding). Control of insect pest such as of red-legged earth mite or Lucerne flea can also be carried out during the final spray using an appropriate pesticide.

Deep ripping

Your rip lines should be space approximately 2-3m apart.

Deep ripping to 0.5m is advisable on most soil types, except deep sand and cracking clays, as it assists in strong root development by breaking up impenetrable layers in the soil profile resulting in improved aeration and infiltration of rainwater. Ripping along contour lines has the added benefit of harvesting water moving down slope. Roots will grow faster and penetrate deeper into the soil allowing them to access subsurface soil moisture.

The one-pass tree planter is a commonly used method in the Wheatbelt and can be hired from many local shires. The one-pass tree planter scalps, rips and mounds in a single operation at the time of planting, eliminating the need for mechanical site preparation prior to planting.

Where sites are saline or waterlogged it is necessary to mound tree planting rows, as plants are particularly sensitive to these conditions during establishment. Mounding assists to promote initial growth by burying weed seed, reducing root rot, leaching away salt and concentrating residual fertiliser. Planting on mounds keeps the root zone of young seedlings above adverse soil conditions and gives them a head start.