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Selecting a Shade Tree with Charlie

Martha Stewart Living Television

Planting a sapling and watching it grow tall and strong can be a source of great satisfaction. But do you know that trees can save energy and add value to your property as well? Trees absorb heat and cool a house in the summer by blocking the sun; those that lose their leaves in the fall will allow the sun's rays to come through in the winter, when you will welcome the extra heat. Charlie Marder, a friend of Martha's and owner of Marders, a landscaping company and garden shop, in Bridgehampton, New York, gives advice on how to pick the right shade tree for your home.

Charlie's favorite shade trees branch high on the trunk and have fairly small leaves. Both of these attributes will allow for a pleasant, diffused light in which shade plants can grow. Deeply rooted trees are also compatible with shade plants, as they will not compete for water and nutrients. Take into account aesthetics when selecting a tree. Consider the overall shape your tree will eventually possess -- do you prefer a silhouette like a lollipop or an umbrella? And make sure the mature height of the tree will be in scale with your property, as a huge tree can dwarf a small house.

Charlie recommends that you check for good root flare near the top of the root ball when picking out your tree, then planting the tree fairly high in the soil so that the roots will stretch out even further along the top of the soil.

Shade Trees

  • Red maple (Acer rubrum)
  • Sugar maple (Acer saccharum)
  • Little-leaf linden (Tilia cordata)
  • Green or copper beech (Fagus sylvatica)
  • Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)
  • Gingko (Gingko biloba)
  • Golden weeping willow (Salix alba 'Niobe')

Learn more about Marders.

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