Everyday Design Tips to Transform Your Home

Sunday, 12 July 2015

On 18:10 by Alex Mungai   No comments
On any landscape, trees offer a lifetime of fulfilling functions ranging from beauty, air purification, shade, creating spaces among other functions. How well they perform their function depends on how much thought was given into the planning and selection of the particular tree. Selecting trees for your home landscape can be a daunting task as the market is overwhelmed with hundreds of tree species and varieties.

In order to narrow down to the right tree(s), it is crucial to have in mind the primary purpose of the tree in your landscape design. From this, you will be able to select the trees with the characteristics that best suit the intended function.

Begin by familiarising with the tree’s general characteristics in terms of growth habits, type of rooting, foliage density, size of the tree at maturity etc as this will in one way or another determine the best landscape function they can offer.

Locating the tree on your landscape will mostly be informed by the size of the tree at maturity. As a general rule of the thumb, the minimum distance between your house and the tree should be six metres. This ensures that the tree does not interfere with the structural properties of the house. Tall trees will tend to dwarf small, one-story buildings and are therefore suited for tall buildings. Therefore, applying the principle of scale and proportion is quite necessary.

For a home with children, some trees are unsuitable since they pose danger. For instance, thorny trees such as the acacias may inflict injuries, trees of the euphorbiaceae family are also known to have poisonous sap that may lead to health complications to anyone who comes into contact.

The shape/silhouette of the tree also determines its suitability for use in your home landscape. The common tree silhouettes include oval, columnar, pyramidal, weeping and round. Trees with a pyramidal shape such as pines offer great focal points for you landscape while oval shapes are great for creating shades for outdoor spaces such as patios. Closely associated with the shape is branching habit of the tree. Trees with a higher branching height encourage human activity to occur beneath them while the weeping silhouette of trees such as the willows discourage any activity beneath.
Trees with  spreading branches and dense foliage encourage human activity beneath them.
When selecting the tree for your landscape, the foliage density ought to be considered in relation to the tree’s purpose. Is it to serve as a windbreak? How about offering shade? Is it for screening unwanted views/offering privacy for outdoor activities? Trees with dense foliage will be more useful as screens and blocking undesired views as well as acting as windbreaks. For shade purposes, an oval shaped tree with dense foliage will be suitable.

Other considerations will include the colour of the foliage. Trees with colourful foliage are best suited
as focal points in the landscape. Trees with unique shapes can also be used as ornamental pieces in the landscape.
The Japanese Red Maple tree as a focal point in the landscape

-photos courtesy of Bing


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