what people say pic.JPG

What's wrong with lawns

We have a love hate relationship with our lawns. They consume our time, play with our sense of order and aesthetics. We tend to them, trim them, feed them, obsesses about them. But, it doesn't have to be this way.

Read on to find out about some other alternative that we really like...


What's wrong with lawns

We have a love hate relationship with our lawns. They consume our time, play with our sense of order and aesthetics. We tend to them, trim them, feed them, obsesses about them. But, it doesn't have to be this way.

Read on to find out about some other alternative that we really like...

Our goal is to help you minimise the maintenance of your property

I’ve always had an issue with lawns and grass and when talking with others and observing neighbours, they all have the same issues. Whether its kikuyu, moss, dead areas, Onehunga weed, grass grubs, wet or dry spots, areas too steep to mow or just too dangerous, the ongoing problems of lawns is endless.

But still we struggle and slave away spend money on the machines and time every other weekend maintaining.  Maintenance is not gardening in my books. Do we really need all that lawn, is it just part of being kiwi or is it all we think landscapes can be?

Even our councils lack vision and creativity.  We see 15+ dudes on weed eaters weed eating banks all day and they’ll be back in a month to do it all over again, and what about the tractor mowers on the sides of motorways dangerously trying to mow all of that grass.  Doesn’t that seem stupid to you? 

Imagine a no-mow system which is full of life and low maintenance, or NO maintenance!

What bugs me is that lawns are ecologically empty, the wildlife they support is microscopic compared to the native bush, meadows, forests, gardens and swamps, so when you replace grass with some other system like flowering ground covers, herbs and natives, a greater contribution to the environment occurs.

Around the globe, it’s already starting to happen where people are replacing their lawns with drought tolerant native landscapes and permeable hardscapes.

Working with using the rain water to enhance areas rather than letting it go down the drain or become a problem.  Think also of the million of tonnes of lawn clippings people take to the dumb and also what about the petrol fuelled lawn mowers emitting all that pollution and then there’s the annoying noise pollution that goes with it.  Waaaaaaahhhhh waaaaaaahhhh waaaaaah! Chonk!

We have been playing around with replacing the lawn with its hungry ongoing maintenance for awhile now and we have had great success.  Firstly, there is a conceptual blockage we have in New Zealand about short mown grass like a golf course (the tidy look).  That’s all cool, but maybe just a little area of this in front of your house.  But there is something very special and attractive about longer wavy looking grass, relax a bit on the mowing which makes it better on the grass due to moisture holding and the shaggy style with the wind moving through it will start to grow on you.  You can always mow pathways through it for practicality and gives a nice contrasting look.

The major reason we adopt this style in our designs when we are dealing with landscapes is because fruit trees hate grass up and around them, they strufggle for moisture and food because grass takes it all and also the added damage of a weed eater or mower munching the trunk every once and awhile as well as it being an annoying job.  You only have to get whacked in the face by a branch whilst mowing under trees to want to change something.

We love minimalizing the maintenance of properties, that’s our goal.  The big ephiphany we learnt through doing this was seeing the benefits that occur when you take away grass and add a bed system that is covered with flowers, herbs and native ground covers (a living mulch).  The trees do a hundred times better, often bearing in their first year and the environmental contribution is endless, and it’s seasonally beautiful.  Win, win, win.

In permaculture practices it is talked about a lot that there needs to be 3 things benefiting each design principal, we use this in our design process. 

It’s a shame to see people moving to the country and buying their lifestyle block, planting it all up and then being a slave to their land for a few years and then having felt beaten by the maintenance of the property, they sell up and move back to the city.  It doesn’t need to be this way.

Be in touch with us to book a site-visit and consultation early in your land’s development.  Your property can be low maintenance, naturalistic and productive.  Don’t be that person that learns the hard way! 


Sharing the Knowledge 


Bed systems

Recently Benji had a chat with Tony Murrell from Radio Live on his popular Saturday morning Home & Garden show. They talked pruning, mulching and how to deal with grass and weeds around fruit trees. 

Click the image below to have a listen.

mulching around trees and beds

what people say pic.JPG

What people say about us

What people say about us


"...we have watched our dream turn into a very beautiful reality."

We were recommended Benji & Laura Woodman of Forgotten Fruits by a friend who could not speak highly enough of them and their operation.  Based in Auckland but having purchased 6 acres in Maungaturoto as a weekend escape and eventual retirement pad it was our dream to turn the bare land into an heirloom orchard with vege garden.  Our property is bordered with a stream on the Eastern Boundary with mature oaks and a railway forming the other other boundaries.  It is a beautiful piece of land with huge potential.  Right from the first meeting with Benji we knew he was the man for us.  He just 'got' our vision and how to integrate it into the property.  Step by step, month by month we have watched our dream turn into a very beautiful reality.  Such is our trust in Benji now that we allow him to press forward with the project with less input from us that we ever imagined.  Being based in Auckland with busy lives it is fantastic not to have to micro manage him.  We're so impressed with his creativity, reliability, attention to detail, following of the original brief and of course the budget.  The next phase for us is converting one of the main paddocks into a wetland.  We can't wait.

Jonny Rudduck & Nigel Shanks" Paparoa

"The flavour is exceptional and a taste sensation."

Well what is there to say.  As you know, I am not a gardener and even less of an orchardist but all the trees you have planted on my plot in the last three years not one of them has succumbed in spite of repeated attempts by possums and other pests to get the better over them.  And it is not an easy site, clay and clay and wind from all directions.  The flavour is exceptional and a taste sensation.  And everyone wants more!

So thank you, your fruits are certainly not forgotten.

Maria Sinclair, Pakari

"I consider myself very fortunate..."

Even before I moved onto my semi rural patch of dirt I knew I wanted to plant old fashioned varieties of fruit trees that would do well in this mild northland climate, so I googled to find a supplier and came across Forgotten Fruits. From my first meeting with Benji I felt he understood what I wanted to achieve and he and his team have been beside me every step of the way planning the whole 4 acre landscape and enthusiastically turning those plans into reality. Now two years later the orchard is producing its first fruits, the citrus and avocado trees are established and the native plantings are growing like Topsy. I know that Benji and his hardworking team will be there for future developments, and also for regular pruning, spraying and other projects that are in the pipeline. I consider myself very fortunate to have the wonderful Forgotten Fruits team helping me to achieve my dream, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to anyone considering establishing an orchard or garden"

Di Partington, Mangawhai

"I could see that this was exactly what we were after."

We have a lifestyle block in Mangawhai and we were keen to establish a home orchard as part of our grand plan. Benji Woodman was recommended to be me by a local who knew him and his work and I contacted Benji to see if he could help. He sent me his Forgotten Fruits catalogue and I could see that this was exactly what we were after. He had a large range of heirloom fruit trees that he had collected and grown himself and he provided a full design, supply, plant, and maintainance service. We do not live on our block full time so it was important that I could get expertise and back up when I needed it. 

We met with Benji and soon the design of our orchard was completed. Benji came in and planted the trees himself. We had about 60 in our orchard, a mixture of apples, peaches, plums, pears, quince, persimmon, feijoa, figs, almonds and citrus and an interesting climbing cocktail kiwifruit to cover our water tank. I helped Benji plant but I suspect I was more of a hindrance because his energy levels are somewhat more elevated than mine. He really is a dynamo when it comes to hard work and I was amazed that in the space of a day our orchard was largely established. Benji came back later to mulch and stake the trees.

The orchard is now 1 year old and it looks great. The trees are thriving and Benji thinks we will have fruit this summer. We don’t use any pesticide or insecticide treatments (in fact we have not had to spray them at all). Benji will prune them soon as we don’t have the expertise and it is important to get the correct framework from the start.

Benji is a very impressive and skilled nurseryman. His design service is excellent and he knows how and where to plant using what varieties taking into account all of the various factors of climate, terrain, soil conditions etc. On top of this he supplies the trees and provides a full planting and maintenance service all at extremely reasonable rates. He is a complete one stop shop when it comes to fruit trees except that the shop comes to you. We cannot speak highly enough of Benji and he will continue to help us develop our property. We are hoping to plant a large number of specialty apples next year and Benji will be doing all of that too as well as getting the shelter established this winter. It has been a pleasure to deal with Benji. He has provided an excellent service and is completely reliable and honest. We cannot speak highly enough of him and his Forgotten Fruits nursery.

Chris & Jo Hunt, Mangawhai  

"I have been totally blown away at how much better..."

Dear Benji and Laura,

I felt compelled to write a testimonial endorsing your quality of workmanship, design vision and fantastic tree stock.

I first meet Benji approximately 2 ½ years ago after making some enquiries about learning how to prune etc.  On Benji’s first visit to my home he shared with me a total transformation of my garden and orchard design, which initially challenged my thinking.  Couple that with what I thought was a total decimation of my fruit trees in the pruning process I didn’t think we got off to a great start.  There was however something special about Benji and I felt he really understood our needs and had our best interests at heart.

Once Benji had implemented his design ideas I watched my garden thrive and grow into something quite special.

I also ordered some additional trees that turned up looking very frail and nude at which I thought to myself there is no way they will survive.  I have been totally blown away at how much better my Forgotten fruit trees have grown against other trees I purchased elsewhere.

I would have no hesitation in recommending Benji and Laura from Forgotten fruits to anyone thinking about embarking on any outdoor project no matter how big or small and I wish them both all of the best in the future.

Kind regards

Brendon Fox
Managing Director
HRV Northland  Glenbervie

"extremely knowledgeable and personable"

Benji and Laura run a great family business, Forgotten Fruits. Benji is a professional plantsman who is extremely knowledgeable and personable.

We engaged him to design and plant a small farm orchard. He selected the ideal location on our property, recommended the layout and  the selection of heritage fruit trees . This  final  selection took account of our favourite fruit, our soil conditions and importantly he recommended a selection which would give us early spring blossom, and fruit, early, mid and late season. We also engage him for annual pruning which has resulted in nicely balanced trees and increasing yields each year.

We are very pleased with our orchard, and can confidently recommend Benji to anyone thinking about developing a Heritage Fruit Orchard.

Barry and Sonya Eddington, Matakana.