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SALI SILVER: The road to Eldorado

In 2017 Dag Willems, owner of Trees SA, was contacted for a very unique tree establishment project. The client is the owner of Eldorado, a game farm spectacularly located 1450m above sea level in the De Doorns/Hexriver mountains. The particular beauty of this place was highlighted when upon arrival, the Trees SA team were greeted with snow covered peaks, and frosty weather in the heart of spring. What followed was an adventure of beautiful proportions…

In 2019, the project was awarded a Silver Award of Excellence by the South African Landscapers Institute (SALI). A prestigious award held in high esteem by all South African and International landscapers. 

eldorado 2017 snow installation

Eldorado game farm has a unique presence, accompanied by unique challenges. Being a game farm in a fairly arid, water-scarce region, the client sought the wisdom of various companies to determine the perfect vegetation that will survive on his farm. Whatever trees and/or shrubs to be planted, they must not only survive fairly dry, hot and freezing conditions, but would also need to survive the appetite of the many head of various game on his farm. It was decided to go with a variety of trees that has the double benefit of being fairly weather proof, and also does not appeal to the wildlife palette.

The experience of Dag Willems was also utilised for the planning, tree selection and ‘tree scaping’ of the area. He was asked to plan the best possible locations for the various tree species selected. He provided the plans that included, among many things, the laying down of approximately 500m of water wise irrigation pipes for all the trees.


The final challenge proved to be a brutal one: access. 9km of rugged, tyre munching jeep tracks lay between the R102 tar road and the final destination of the trees. But with Trees SA always up for the challenge, we took on this momentous task with our two best crane trucks named ‘MAN’ and ‘Popeye’, and some smaller trucks and trailers. Plans were made, logistics organised, and 25 of our best trees were sent to De Doorns over a period of two days. Trees ranged in size from our smallest 250L trees to some oversized 2000L specimens. 4 days of planting and 3 flat tyres later, the trees were in, and this beautiful landscape instantly transformed.

Tree Species Planted:


Eldorado is host to several species of wildlife, and now boasts the presence of 25 of the following mature tree species:


Shelter: Sweet Thorn trees (Vachellia karoo): 3x 2000L, 2.5 tons each

Dam: Paperbark trees (Vachellia sieberiana): 2x 2000L, 2.5 ton each; White Karee trees (Searsia pendulina): 2x 1000L, 1.5 tons each; Pepper tree (Schinus molle): 1x 2000L, 2.5 ton tree

Far-end of Dam: Swamp Cypress (Taxodium distichum): 1x 2000L, 2 ton tree, and 1x 1000L, 1 ton tree.             

West side of the Dam: Paperbark trees (Vachellia sieberiana): 4x 500L, 0.5 ton each

Lodge, lawn area: Plane trees (Platanus acerifolia): 3x 2000L, 2 ton trees

Lodge, north side: Outeniqua Yellowwood trees (Afrocarpus falcatus): 3x 250L, 250kg each

Lodge, west side: White Karee trees (Searsia pendulina): 2x 250L, 250kg each; White Stinkwood trees (Celtis sinensis): 3x 500L, 500kg each


25 trees weighing around 28 tons in total.


It took 3 trucks, an 8 meter lowbed trailer, a 4 meter trailer and two bakkies, traveling more than 900km over four and a half days to get the job done. Over 500m of irrigation pipe was used, and with the help of Izak, a special solar powered irrigation pump and controller was installed.

Monthly tree monitoring visits are being conducted by Trees South Africa for a 6 month period post planting and here are the results…


2 months post planting – trees in full bloom and flourishing!

8 months post planting – landscape transformed into a winter wonderland! And the trees are happy and thriving!

swamp cypress dam 2018 snow
Summer and Winter shots



Visit one of our tree nurseries and choose from our wide range of trees. We’ll deliver. We’ll plant. You’ll transform your landscape almost overnight.

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