Lillian Ajok says after building her house in Library ward, Gulu Municipality, she thought of planting trees to create shades because she had a spacious compound. But her major target of planting tree shades is to get shelter during the hot season.
She knew the tree shades would work. However, her only worry was that the trees would shade off their leaves at some point.
She first consulted with tree planters if there are trees that are resistant to the dry season, they told her that the ones they had all shaded leaves in the dry season but advised her to get alternatives to tree shades.
Before she could conceive any alternative she says a friend told her to consult compound designers.
Because she had seen some places with thatched restaurants, she consulted Stephen Bongomin, an engineer and a construction consultant in Gulu town who told her it was the best idea and accepted to design a thatched umbrella shade for her.
Bongomin says thatched gazebo are as cool as traditional grass thatched houses. “They are affordable, durable and if well maintained, they can stand all weather conditions and give a good shade with fresh air as she needed it.”
He says, “a thatched umbrella doesn’t require a lot of material to construct because most of it can be picked locally and in case you need a cemented floor, it will be the only costly material you will use to build this shade.”
Bongomin says you do not need a lot of labour to construct a thatched gazebo. “It can be done by two to three people to build one in less than a week but you will need more labour if you need more than one umbrella in a week.”
He, however, advises that the home owner hires qualified people to do the thatching to avoid shoddy work and save expenses in frequent repairs.
When thatching, Bongomin says there are different types of grass that can be used depending on where you are building.
However, the best grass is elephant grass because it is strong and thick. For a small umbrella shade that seats a maximum of six people, you will need to buy at least six bundles of grass.
“Before thatching, you will need to put a net on the timber so that when the grass ages, it does not fall into the shade.”
To support the roof, you will need to use eucalyptus poles because of their durability. You can either use local ropes or nails for binding.
This will last at least a year before repairing it and each bundle costs between Shs2,000 and Shs3,000 depending on where you are buying it from.
Other materials are cement for the slab or floor. For this shade you can either have a smooth or concrete floor. In this case you will need sand and aggregates. The mixture must be good to produce quality work.
According to Henry Kayiwa, an architect, if you have a spacious compound, build the thatched shade, at least 10 feet away from the house in that, “even when it catches fire, it will not easily spread to the house.”
Kayiwa adds that if your compound is in steps, “Place the shade on a higher level for beauty purposes.”
Bongomin adds that this shade can be used as a resting place, a children’s play area and an outdoor dining area among other purposes.
pros of thatch
Thatch is a natural product of reed, grass or heathers, when properly cut, dried, and thatched, forms a waterproof roof. It is a naturally weather-resistant material and when properly maintained does not absorb a lot of water.
Thatch is also a natural insulator, and the air pockets within a straw thatch roof insulate the building in both warm and cold weather. A thatched roof will ensure that a building will be cool.