Frequently Asked Questions

Poplars and willows bind soil, so preventing soil movement and loss on slopes and in gullies. This means better farm productivity, intact infrastructure, better water quality, and stable river and stream banks. Poplars and willows can also provide shade, shelter and fodder for stock, a timber resource, pollen, nectar and habitat for birds and insects, and an attractive landscape.
Poplars are best for slopes (less grass suppression) and willows for gullies. Choose the right species and cultivar for the site (dry, wet, exposed etc) and your objectives. Discuss species choice with your local regional council advisor or nurseryman.
Poles come in a range of sizes. Three metre poles are suitable for cattle country, 2.5 m poles are suitable if the farm only has sheep, or if a shelterbelt is being planted behind a hot wire. Smaller poles and rooted ‘wands’ are available and are suitable if there are no browsing livestock to threaten the plantings.

Check with your regional council or see our nursery listing. A local plant nursery may supply a limited choice of poles. Remember – protective sleeves are not enough to stop cattle rubbing on, or knocking over, poles. Cattle must be kept well away from poles for at least a year after planting.

Prices and subsidies vary between regional councils and nurseries. Prices also vary depending on the size of pole and sleeve. Budget on around $10 each for 3m poles and 1.7m Dynex sleeves, less for smaller sizes.

Contact your regional council for thumpers and other planting tools. Augers are available commercially. A 60mm-diameter auger is recommended for pole planting.

Yes. The challenge is producing a straight pole. Most farmers prefer to purchase their poles because it is another task they don't have to do themselves, and there is more choice, including the new cultivars produced from time-to-time by the Poplar and Willow Research Trust. Gisborne District Council has guidelines available for growing your own poles (Managing an On-Farm Nursery) on request for a small fee.

  • Planting too shallow – we recommend a depth of 80 cm.
  • Not cutting a slant on the bottom of the pole (stops the pole spinning and becoming loose in the hole in strong winds).
  • Not planting soon enough after harvesting/receiving from nursery (pole dries out from the top down).
  • Planting in a spot where there is no natural moisture collection (pole dries out before sufficient roots develop).
  • Not having a tight fit of pole in the planting hole (pole needs to contact soil closely to retain moisture).


  • Cattle, feral deer and goats. Cattle must be kept well away from newly planted poles for at least a year. Deer and goats need to be controlled.
  • Drought, wind, and not being re-rammed in spring/summer when the soil surface dries out around the area where young roots are forming.

The Poplar and Willow Research Trust website is the best source of information about poplars and willows.

Watch our Planting Poplars and Willows videos:

  1. Assessing the Site
  2. Choosing the Best Poles
  3. Successful Pole Planting