Rethinking tree packaging


Heard of Leafland?

Leafland grow specimen trees and send them all over NZ. Their customers are generally people who plant a fair amount of trees, like councils or landscapers. You get the idea.

Now, if you’ve ever bought and planted any trees yourself you’ll know that

  • the roots are sometimes all tangled and growing in a spiral and if so need teasing out
  • the bag is a bit tricky to remove
  • then you have to get rid of it
  • and sometimes your new tree struggles with the transition from pot/bag to ground

So you can imagine that if you’re planting a lot of trees, these small annoyances can become a real thorn in your side (to use a gardening term). Wasting time, creating rubbish, and risking long-term tree health.

That’s why Leafland set out to solve these problems and ultimately came to us.

Now Leafland has a system that makes planting trees much easier for their customers, and shipping trees much more cost-effective and environmentally friendly for them. Check out their video, and read on to hear how they developed this great solution (with some help from Smart Pack)

No more spiralling roots

To solve the problem of spiraling roots, the team at Leafland have used a special pot with slots around the sides. The idea was to use air for pruning. As the roots grow around the perimeter they contact the air through the slots which prunes them. No more spiraling roots. Instead, the trees develop a mass of fibrous feeding roots which are good for growth once the tree is planted. Genius!

Unfortunately, it turns out the pots were great for growing the trees but not so good for shipping. They took up extra room in the truck and tended to damage other trees in transit. They are expensive but the big plus is they are reusable.

So the challenge became to find a better way of transporting and planting the trees.


Developing a bag system

An idea was born — to remove the pot before transport, and place the tree into a biodegradable plantable bag. The brief to Smart Pack was to supply a bag that would make it easier to handle the tree during transport. That bag could then be planted in the ground, degrading after a few weeks.

Could we help Leafland develop such a bag? You bet we could.

Research landed us on hessian as the material. It degrades over time and has actually been used in the gardening trade for many years for wrapping plants. Working together with Leafland we developed the design and specification of the bag with transport handles, and after some trial and error finalised the design.

“Leon and his team were really easy to deal with. They had some great ideas and got things happening really quickly” Ben, owner of Leafland

Greener trees

Now with the innovative hessian bags used for transport, the pots are reused at Leafland for growing more trees. The customer has an easy to lift and move tree that they simply plant, bag and all, into the ground. Leafland also adds a couple of fertiliser tablets to the bottom of each bag as an extra bonus. No time wasting, no rubbish and a healthy tree which establishes quickly into the new site. Problems solved.

We love customers like Leafland who come to us with a problem and a clear brief. There was some very clever kiwi thinking behind this product and it’s great to have been a part of bringing it to fruition.


If you have a packaging problem that needs solving, then you should talk to us. Contact me (Leon) on +64 21 228 3063 or email