Pro Landscaper May 2019

Page 66



Selecting a tree for any garden is a life time decision and will greatly improve the appearance and the value of any property. As this falls into the long-term planning of a landscape, it is not to be rushed, if it is to be done correctly. One of the most important factors to take in account is the size of the landscape the trees are to be planted in. On a farm or property with a large garden, tree selection is something that will not have a massive effect if the tree is not exactly the correct choice for the site. With small gardens, however, selection of correct tree species is quite critical due to the space limitations that most modern gardens have.

Written by Suzanne-Francoise Rossouw-Moss: Trees South Africa

You can use trees in the garden for ornamental value, fruit, shade or even a specific function. Before making any selection, it is important to figure out why the tree is needed in a specific area in the garden. In general, trees are planted to create shelter, shade, screening or as a focal point. In large gardens you also have the option to plant groups of trees as well as a single specimen. There is however a vast difference between planting trees in a grouping to planting a single tree. A group of trees will most probably only create a background to a landscape, where a single tree can be used as a focal point. In a small garden you have less opportunity to plant trees and your selection criteria will need to include consideration for seasonal interest (Flowers, fruit, autumn colour), tree shape of a tree (Rounded, pyramid, columnar & more) and even leaf texture.

Ficus microcarpa- Topiary garden


Pro Landscaper Africa | May 2019

Once the purpose has been identified, finding a suitable tree for a location will in short depend on the available space, climatic conditions on the site. How do climatic conditions influence a tree choice? Firstly, if you are in an exposed landscape you will need to select species that can deal with full sun and strong winds at certain times of the year. Thus, selecting a more resilient tree species for example the White Milkwood, would be a better choice than Forest Elder. If you are in a housing complex with tall apartment buildings surrounding the garden, your site might be in full shade for most of the day and it would be best to consider trees that can tolerate more shade. Soil composition also influence tree choice as many species prefer well drained soil and will struggle to adapt to areas with heavy clay. Trees that generally grow quite fast and lush in a sub-tropical climate due to the high humidity and rainfall, will grow much slower and smaller in areas that have a Mediterranean climate. One good example of this would be the Leopard tree that grows extremely fast in the more tropical regions of south Africa compared to how they struggle to grow in gardens situated in the Western Cape.