There is growing interest in innovative ways to minimise the environmental footprint of port developments. Herein we present results of a mangrove planting trial along an artificial tidal creek at Port Hedland, Western Australia. A 75 m-long tidal creek with exposed sloping and terraced banks was constructed, creating ∼1000m2 of intertidal area in which 800 nursery-raised seedlings of four mangrove species (Avicennia marina, Rhizophora stylosa, Ceriops australis and Aegiceras corniculatum) were transplanted. Planting followed a randomised block design to test seedling performance against tidal elevation, bank design and erosion protection. After 3 years, 142 seedlings (18%) had survived. Another 1171 mangrove seedlings, dominated by A. corniculatum (75%) and Aegitialis annulata (15%), had recruited naturally into the site. Performance and survival of planted and recruited seedlings was significantly affected by tidal elevation (P≤0.002), but not by bank design or erosion protection. A. marina showed highest survival (46%), followed by R. stylosa (18%). These results demonstrate that by creating appropriate environmental conditions conducive to mangrove growth, seedlings will recruit and establish naturally. Owing to the slow growth typical of semi-arid mangroves, it may take well over a decade before vegetation at this site is comparable to adjacent natural creeks.