Chris Slaughter, an expert horticulturist and landscape architect, talks how best to introduce a tree into your garden or outdoor design
I received an email a little while ago questioning why our environment is slowly having less and less trees and the impact this is having upon us and our living areas.
I have certainly noticed the slow but sure removal of trees to make way for development and the like. Do not get me wrong I am not an old humbug and respect the need for development but being a Landscape Architect and Horticulturist I know only too well the magical effect trees can have upon our lives when we choose wisely come the time for planting out. Planting is a complex affair, and to reduce it to one simple step in the overall design process is to do a fascinating subject an injustice. The real fun comes when you develop and create a planting scheme that reflects your individual taste. With a little time and energy you can design your dream garden space.
To be able to sit out under a tree absorbing the natural cooled breeze created as it passes through this shaded area gives a sense of serenity, let alone a mesmerising effect from the whispering of the leaves as they sway in the wind.
With the many designs which I have been fortunate to create, I spend a considerable amount of time assessing the trees that are brought into any design, their growing habits and impact, both positive and negative, they may have in any particular space. We should not only look at shape, form, colour and flower but know that with the right choice you are also unconsciously bringing a positive effect upon your space with the known facts trees bring: an improvement to your health, your social and economic benefits and also the positive effect upon the environment. How is that so you may be asking?
- Nature is proven to give us a positive enhancement to our life
- Children are far more settled in and around nature and this can improve their behaviour
- Children play more creatively in a natural environment and parents are more likely to join in playing with children
- Trees reduce exposure to ultraviolet light, lessening the risk of associated health problems such as skin cancers and cataracts
- Green surroundings reduce mental tiredness, while enhancing concentration and attention, leading to an improved ability to cope and make positive decisions.
- Greenery helps people to relax and renew, reducing aggression … lessening violence
- The proximity of trees to dwellings has an effect on residents’ use of outdoor space – the closer the trees, the higher the usage
- Many more people are involved in social activities in green environments than in areas that have few or no trees and shrubs
- Gardens and other plantings contribute to residents feeling safer, more supported and satisfied with their surroundings
- Green spaces bring residents together more often, promoting chance meetings and encounters. Residents get to know one another, producing stronger, more cohesive neighbourhoods
- Areas with higher levels of planting experience lower levels of crime
- Tree lined streets are perceived as narrower, resulting in reduced speeds. Trees along streets provide a buffer between pedestrians and vehicles.
- A garden adds to the aesthetic appeal of your home and neighbourhood, and it adds real monetary value to your home
- A well-planned landscape can reduce your heating and cooling costs by 20%
- Trees slow storm water, decreasing the likelihood of flooding and erosion, and improving water quality
- Trees have a greater benefit in terms of reducing pollution
- Trees, shrubs, hedges and grasses have a positive effect on the environment by the transpiration of water and the emission of oxygen by photosynthesis
- Plantings around buildings are a proven method of reducing the demand for artificial heating and cooling with a resultant, and important, lower use of fossil fuels.
- Greenery provides ‘white noise’ reducing the effects of man-made sounds
I love landscape trees. They are so majestic, and there are so many different types of trees to choose from.
Each has their own special place in a design. You might select a tree for its colourful flowers. Maybe you love weeping trees. Perhaps the tree has beautiful leaves; and then, of course, there are those that provide spectacular fall colour. I shall be looking at categories like Ornamental, Shade and Evergreen trees in a later edition to help you with choosing the right tree for the right place.
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