TreeScaping: Great tips for landscaping with trees in the Western Cape

Trees at Lourensford Estate, Somerset West, Cape Town. Trees at Lourensford Estate, Somerset West, Cape Town

Dam levels in the Western Cape continue to improve.

By early October 2018, dam levels had reached a storage capacity of 79%. Water tariffs have been lowered and water use limits have been raised.

The rains and rising water tables have been a blessing for landscaping this summer.

“Early spring cold fronts that have been rolling through the Western Cape have also provided a perfect cool climate for planting trees”, says South African Landscapers’ Institute (SALI) National Chairperson, Norah de Wet.

Trees play an important role in both our environment and society. For people, trees are a source of oxygen, food, building material and medicine.

In our landscapes, trees create shade and privacy, provide habitats for wildlife, can be used to block out an unwanted view, filter noise, stabilise the soil, reduce erosion or act as windbreaks.

“Once established, trees ameliorate the effects of the urban heat island (UHI), reducing ozone levels in urban areas and cool the earth”, says Norah.

Choosing trees

Are you interested in planting trees this summer?

Landscapers in the Western Cape always check a site before deciding on the appropriate trees for a landscape.

Ida-Marie Strydom of of Life Landscapes (Western Cape) advises that before choosing a new tree, you should consider these questions:

What shape of tree do you want? Do you want a tree for shade, wind protection or to screen off the neighbour’s house?
How much space is available?
Do you want an evergreen or deciduous tree?
What are the growing conditions? Does your garden have sandy soil, brak water or is it subjected to strong sea breezes and salty spray?
“If you need a shade tree, choose a variety which develops a tall trunk and a wide, spreading canopy”, says Ida-Marie. This type will give the most cover over an outdoor living area, with plenty of space and head room for chairs and tables.

“If the tree is going to be fairly close to the house, consider a deciduous tree, which will allow in more winter light”, says Ida-Marie.

“If, on the other hand, you need more protection from the wind, than shade, choose an evergreen tree with dense wind-resistant foliage”, she adds. “As wind, especially the south-easter, is strongest in sandy areas, the tree must also be able to thrive in poor soils and withstand dry, summer conditions”, says Ida-Marie.

Choose established trees

Planting large and established trees is a fast track way to gain shade for summer.

“We’ve spent the past three decades developing our intimate understanding of large trees in South Africa”, says Dag Willems of Trees-SA.

“We’ve recorded how they grow, we’ve analysed what makes them resilient and unique and we’ve developed proprietary systems and processes to ensure they flourish wherever they are relocated to”, he adds.

Every single one of our trees is hand-selected for vigour, structure and form, typical to the particular species.

As our trees often spend extended periods of time in our nurseries, we designed our storage space to accommodate growth; by allowing ample space for balanced tree crown development and keeping stem diameter growth in proportion to tree height.

“You can be assured that our trees are sturdy, top-quality and hardened-off”, says Dag.

What trees should you be growing this summer in the Western Cape? Consider this list of trees for your landscape.

What should you plant? Trees for the Western Cape

Indigenous Trees for Shade

White stinkwood (Celtis africana) – deciduous

River bushwillow (Combretum erythrophyllum) – semi-deciduous

Forest bushwillow (Combretum kraussii) – semi-deciduous

Cape ash (Ekebergia capensis) – evergreen

Coral tree (Erythrina lysistemon) – semi-evergreen, shelter sapling from wind

Wild plum (Harpephyllum caffrum) – evergreen

Wild olive (Olea europeana ssp. africana) – evergreen, wind-resistant

Quinine tree (Rauvolfia caffra) – evergreen

Weeping karee (Searsia pendulina) – evergreen, fast-growing

White milkwood (Sideroxylon inerme ssp. inerme) – evergreen, wind-resistant

Water berry (Syzygium cordatum) – evergreen, wind resistant

Indigenous Trees for Wind

Coastal silver oak (Brachylaena discolor) – evergreen

Bladdernut (Diospyros whyteana) – evergreen

Sand olive (Dodonea angustifolia) – evergreen

White milkwood (Sideroxylon inerme) – evergreen, slow growing

Tarchonanthus camphoratus (Wild Camphor Bush) – evergreen

Indigenous Trees for Screening

Bladdernut (Diospyros whyteana) – evergreen

Kei apple (Dovyalis caffra) – evergreen

Natal fig (Ficus natalensis) – evergreen

Wild Plum (Harpephyllum caffrum) – evergreen

Cape Holly (Ilex mitis) – evergreen

Forest elder (Nuxia floribunda) – evergreen

Yellowwood (Podocarpus spp.) – evergreen, protect sapling from wind

Waterpear (Syzygium guineense) – evergreen, fast-growing

Water berry (Syzygium cordatum) – evergreen

For more information regarding the selection of suitable tree species for your landscape, you can take a look at a “Treescaping” article written by Trees SA and published in the Prolandscaper.

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