By Vivian Agaba
Trees have for generations been important for furnishing us with two of life’s essentials, food and oxygen. Today however, their values continue to increase and more benefi ts are being discovered to satisfy the needs created by our modern lifestyles. We need them to frame landscapes, create beautiful backgrounds, enhance building designs, provide privacy and emphasize beautiful views.
With trees in your compound that provide a cool shade, you can do outdoor activities that you; family members and friends love doing like playing chess, cards and storytelling.
Trees also increase our quality of life by bringing natural elements and wildlife habitats into urban settings, and also create a peaceful, pleasing environment. With all these benefi ts, it explains their presence everywhere; on streets, parks, play grounds and most importantly in our home compounds.
Trees in their own capacity give our homes the greenery we cannot resist. But if you want to plant them or have already planted them, you should give them full attention so as to fulfil the purpose for which you planted them. You also need to prevent them from being a danger to you, family members or neighbours.
Grace Kabatangare, a consultant in landscape and interior designs, gives tips on how to manage trees in your compound.
“Pruning is the most common tree maintenance procedure. It involves cutting or removing of very big branches that may become a threat to the house, especially if tree is near the house,” says Kabatangare. Kabatangare says trees are usually pruned as a corrective measure to remove dead branches, crowded or rubbing limbs to increase light and air penetration.
This involves reducing on the number of trees that are situated in a same place. When trees are many and congested, they compete for the same nutrients like water, sunlight and air. Therefore, some are unable to get the nutrients and they become deformed. She advises that in such a situation, one should reduce on the number of trees by cutting down some of them so that the remaining few can have all the nutrients they require.
“Taming is a great way to manage trees because you shape them in a position you want them to grow facing and it is all for beautifi cation purposes,” says Kabatangare. She adds that tamed trees are good to be placed at the entrance of your home because they are shaped in all beautiful ways that are pleasant to look at depending on how the owner wants the trees shaped. She advises that if one wants to tame the trees, but does not know how, they should seek help from professional gardeners to do it for them.
Slashing the bark of the tree makes its roots, branches strong and healthy, which makes the fruits produced of high quality, in case of fruit trees. She also advises that if one wants to control the height of the trees, their heads and sideways can be cut off.
John Waiswa, a resident of Zzana, Entebbe Road and a house help, says the family he works for has many trees in their compound, which shed off leaves everyday. “My boss’s compound is full of trees that shed leaves all the time, making
the compound untidy. So I must sweep it thrice a day, which is truly tiring,” says Waiswa.
Trees can also be sprayed using insecticides whenever attacked by insects like caterpillars and should not be planted near a house, especially those that are very tall with strong roots. They may weaken the foundation of the house and pull it down. Kabatangare advises that a tree should at least be planted 15 metres away from the house so that it does not cause any damage to the house.
Joseph Obua, an ecologist, advises that before planting trees, you must have a purpose for them. “Do not plant trees just for the sake of it. Trees that provide shade, fruits, trees that provide a wind break for environmental purposes and those meant to beautify your compound are preferred,” says Obua. He advises that if you should plant trees that grow very tall with deep roots, make sure it is far from the house to prevent accidents.
“Trees that are grown near the house may turn out to be dangerous when the branches break off due to strong winds and storms and may hit a person or the car,” says Obua. In addition, such trees keep shedding off their leaves on the roof, leaving it wet and may destroy it in the long run.
Obua recommends jacaranda trees, umbrella-like trees that have large or small leaves, depending on what you want, palm trees, cylindrical trees and jacaranda festivals trees as the best trees to put in your compound with great shapes, shades and beautiful flowers.
Tips for buying compound trees
Kabatangare says one should plant trees that are functional like fruit trees, medicinal and those that add beauty to the home. Plant trees that require low maintenance costs in terms of time and money.
Assess the type of soil. Well-drained fertile soils favour the growth of strong and healthy trees. She says the soil’s PH should be analysed. If you cannot change the soil composition or its PH content sufficiently, then find the trees that grow well in the 000000type of soil you have,” says Kabatangare.
According to her, the best spots to plant trees in homes are backyards, which provide privacy to family members to spend some quality time together and the best trees to be put there are fruit trees and those that provide shades. Drive ways or corners of the front yard are great spots for trees because they give the front view of the house a beautiful greenery.
Obua says when planning to plant a tree, the size of the plot of land matters. “If someone has a 50ft by 100ft piece of land, it is too small to put in large trees. Owners of such a plot are advised to plant shrub trees that are umbrella-like and have beautiful fl owers that add beauty to the compound,” says Obua.
He, however, says that if you have a big compound, you can plant as many trees as you want. He says when planting a tree, do
not grow those ones that look like the shape of your house because it will be monotonous. “If your house is round, let the
trees be square and if the house is built in a squared manner, let the trees be round-shaped so that they complement each other’s beauty,” he adds.
“Some people have big plots of land that favour the construction of drive ways that stretch from the main gate up to the house. Such people can use such opportunities to plant trees on these drive ways to make the home entrance more inviting,” says Obua.
He, however, discourages people from planting too many and unnecessary trees in their home compounds because they make it congested and less attractive. Kabatangare advises that before anyone who wants to plant treesor buys them, they should do a thorough research on their different characteristics, soils and conditions that favour their growth.