Our Environmental Credentials

Why is buying an Arbor Design (Pty) Wendy house, garden shed or dog kennel going to save the planet?

In this day and age it is essential that we care for our environment. At Arbor Designs (Pty) we take our commitment to the environment very seriously and still ensure that we produce top quality Wendy houses, garden sheds, and dog kennels.

That seems like a contradiction from a company who primarily uses wood to make its products. The trend for some time has been to find man-made alternatives to natural products, and whilst we do have some man-made alternatives to traditional wooden cladding the cores of our units are still made from solid timber and our most popular finish remains traditional wood.

So how can we make such a claim of environmental friendliness?

First, lets clear up a confusion- there is a difference between using timber responsibly and running around hacking down virgin forests without any control. The rapid depletion of the Worlds rain forests is impossible to sustain and many species of wood are now either extinct, or very close to it. Apart from anything else we need those trees if we want to keep breathing.

Unfortunately the deforestation in West Africa, South America and North America (there’s a secret that nobody does much shouting about), as well as parts of South Asia have meant that all timber felling is seen as a bad thing and an otherwise perfect material has been tainted with the brush of environmental incorrectness.

For one thing, not all trees are good for the environment. Recently Table Mountain National Parks (TMNP) began removing the old pine plantations, planted by Cecil Rhodes, from above Constantia. There was somewhat of an outcry by local environmentalists who hated the idea of healthy trees being cut down for no reason. It didn’t quite go as far as people chaining themselves to trees, but quite a lot of people were not happy with the situation.

Yet the pine forests were an environmental disaster of epic proportions. Fynbos is a floral kingdom unique to the Western Cape and it needs open scrub to flourish. It simple cannot grow in pine forests. And if the fynbos doesn’t grow then most of the animals, birds and insects that have evolved to live on it also cannot survive. This opens the door for other introduced species to take over and establish a foothold. TMNP wanted to return the southern slopes of the mountain to its natural state, and to do that the trees had to go.

And what happened to those trees?

We can’t account for all of them, but we did our best and quite a lot of them found their way to our facility in Fiztsekraal where they are merrily being turned into Wendy houses, garden sheds, dog kennels, dog houses, kids play houses, and garden cupboards. Since we make our units to as high a standard as we can there is a good chance that some of them will be around for many years to come and if the lifetime of the product is longer than the maturity time of the material then it is fully sustainable.

Our main material is local pine and we have a substantial stock if it thanks to TMNP. However, even if the wood is not coming from forest clearance we ensure that it is obtained from sustainable sources.

Our other main timbers are eucalyptus and saligna. Both these trees have been introduced to South Africa and neither is particularly good for our environment. They are regularly cleared either for development or agricultural purposes- or to simply stop them from sucking the local water table dry. We regularly buy felled logs from local tree surgeons, making full use of material that may otherwise just be burned.

When you buy a Wendy House, garden shed, or dog kennel you want it to last a while. Most timber on its own will not last more than a year or two before it begins to fall apart. To prevent this it needs treating with something. There are many products on the market for this but at Arbor Designs (Pty) we favour natural oils, not only for their superior qualities in preserving the wood, but also because they cause less impact on the environment.

We also fully embrace developments in new technology. A lot of work has been done to perfect man-made materials that are very long lasting, especially in our harsh conditions. For some time now Nutec has been a great alternative to wood for the cladding of solid timber framed structures. You can read more about what Nutec is in our article “What is Nutec?”

Nutec is a brand of fiber cement board that can drastically extend the life of your Wendy house, garden shed or dog kennel. By lengthening the life span of your unit you not only see a better return for your investment, but also dilute any environmental impact that making your Wendy house, garden shed or dog kennel may have caused.

New materials continue to be developed and we will strive to be at the forefront of the introduction of any new technology that will reduce the environmental impact of our industry.

Finally there is the way in which we make your units.

All our units are constructed by screwing prefabricated panels together. This is far beyond the industry standard of nailing Wendy houses, garden sheds and dog kennels together. Why do we do this then when we could save money by just nailing them together?

Simple- you get a better unit for your money. Imagine if you invest in a new Wendy house and get it put in your garden. A couple of years later you decide to do some building work on your property and the Wendy house is in the way. It’s too big to move and there is nowhere else to do the renovations.

If the unit is nailed together then you may be able to pry it apart. You may get lucky and have only a small amount of damage, but chances are you will wreck the unit. Alternatively you will just have to suck it up and buy a new Wendy house! Oh, if only somebody would think to screw their units together!?! Then they could be taken apart and reassembled with ease!

The simple truth is that if a Wendy house, garden shed or dog kennel only sees a year or twos use it has had a negative impact on the environment. However if it gives many years of service its impact has been minimal. By screwing units together we not only make it easier to move them, but imagine if you have no further use for your unit, if it is screwed together you could sell it on.

We don’t pretend that our industry is completely environmentally friendly, however, we believe that we take every step possible to ensure that our impact is as small as possible. And, unlike nearly every other industry in the world, striving for greater environmental responsibility actual sees a greater return on your investement.