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Your Ultimate Guide: Design A Native New Zealand Garden

design a native new zealand garden

We’re incredibly lucky to have a wide range of beautiful New Zealand native plants in this stunning country of ours. Due to our unique eco-system, they’re often the most sustainable solution for your garden too (and are usually low maintenance!). 

One of the best ways to attract wildlife - especially birds - is to design a garden with plants native to Aotearoa, and we’ve got you covered with this ultimate guide to get you started!

Ready to wake up to the sound of a Tui call in your garden?

tui in native garden

1 / Play with texture

There are so many different textures to play with when it comes to native plants. NZ native plants actually have such unique forms and fabulously bright coloured leaves that you can find them in gardens across the globe. 

In a native garden, the aim is to create a naturalistic landscape that reflects the true essence of kiwi wildlife. Try contrasting techniques like planting drifts of native grasses punctuated by Pittosporum balls - this adds order and structure amongst lush natural plantings and the different textures are striking. 

The varying textures you’ll find means that there are many different styles you can achieve using just native plants. 

Try using Nikau Palms and Puka trees underplanted with ferns to create a lush oasis that reflects the native bush, or replicate coastal gardens using sprawling natives such as Muehlenbeckia Astonii, Carex, and Coprosma repens.

texture in native gardens

2 / Contrasting colours make it pop!

Native foliage comes in many incredible shades of colour. Beautiful green backdrops paired with stunning contrasting displays can make your native garden really pop. 

Mix greys such as Astelia, with purples or oranges (try Libertia Peregrinans or Phormium cookianum purpurea) to create an eye-catching contrast in your garden design. You’ll impress any visitors with your design skills before they even reach the door.

Libertia in NZ garden

3 / Celebrate Kiwi Style

Bringing Kiwi culture into your garden and design is easily enhanced by using strategic artwork and features. NZ themed pieces such as wood carvings, rustic steel sculptures, or driftwood creations can be stunning centre-pieces for your outdoor haven - they stand out when surrounded by gorgeous native plants!

sculpture in garden new zealand

4 / Don’t Forget About Ferns

Ferns can often be forgotten but they are a must in native gardens. The varied fronds provide beautiful texture and interest. There are so many to choose from - whether your garden is a dry or damp shady area, there’s a fern for you.

They are often perfect plants for problem areas and fit into a wide variety of garden styles.
And really, what screams ‘New Zealand’ more than a native fern?

ferns in native NZ garden

5 / Our Favourite Benefits

If you’re looking to save money and time, a native garden is an excellent choice. Being on their home soil means they need less water than other garden styles - resulting in less maintenance for busy Kiwis!

New Zealand plants are often the easiest to find. Here in Aotearoa, sourcing plants is not always the easiest task. In 2020, COVID-19 has unfortunately made this even more of an issue. But fear not! When it comes to natives you are almost always guaranteed to find what you want.

Native plants are also fairly low maintenance, and for the most part, evergreen. Some natives do their own thing and need little to no attention. The ones that do need a little TLC, usually only need a few dead leaves cut back every so often. We can promise you that having evergreen natives in your garden means no sweeping up piles of leaves in the Autumn!

A native NZ garden design means you can step out into your backyard and enjoy your morning coffee, brunch or BBQ dinner with a lush, green backdrop -  without having to spend hours on presentation beforehand.

boardwalks kiwi garden

Our Favourite Plants for NZ Native Gardens

Keen to get designing, but not sure where to start?

We’ve compiled a handy list of some of our favourite plants to create gorgeous gardens across the country.

Canopy plants


Nikau palm

Pohutukawa ‘maori princess’







Tall/medium fillers



Ground cover



Euphorbia glauca




Shining spleenwort fern

Silver lady fern

Wow plants





Tecomanthe speciosa

Native clematis

Native jasmine

Winding boardwalks through mass plantings are a great way of evoking the Kiwi wilderness and look incredible in gardens.

boardwalks in native NZ gardens

Create Your Own

With all of these beautiful ideas, you’ve got plenty of options for getting started on designing your own New Zealand native garden. However, if you want a more personalised native landscape design, you can organise an initial appointment with us HERE

If you’d love some assistance bringing your native garden project to life, you can organise a FREE initial consultation with our expert team HERE!


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