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Shade Trees are a great asset to any homeowner because they offer a multitude of benefits. These trees provide flowers in the spring, shade in the summer, colors in the fall, and protection in the winter. Shade Trees can increase a homeowner's property value, reduce heating and cooling costs both indoors and out, convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, help prevent soil erosion and attract and sustain wildlife.

One of the best at achieving this is the Royal Empress Tree. Careful tree selection along with proper planting and maintenance is needed to keep your trees healthy. The shade tree planting process begins by choosing the proper shade tree for the growing conditions in the homeowners’ location. The homeowner must first consider soil drainage, soil type, available sunlight and available space.

The homeowner must be aware that a shade tree produces a deep tap root that grows downward but also produces side shoots that can grow into sidewalks, driveways, the homes foundation or the homeowners’ septic system.

How to Plant Shade Trees: Dig a hole that is about three times the diameter of the root ball. Most of the roots of a new tree develop in the top 12 inches of soil; digging a wider hole and loosening the surrounding soil allows growing roots to push through more easily. The flare (where the roots spread at the base of the trunk) should be just above the soil level. Remove the tree from the container and inspect the roots.

If the roots are circling, gently tease them apart or they will continue to grow in a circle. If difficult to loosen by hand, make four cuts into the root mass from the bottom up the sides with a utility knife.

This will promote growth into the surrounding soil. Lift the tree by the root ball and place it in the hole. Fill the hole about one third of the way and gently but firmly pack the soil around the root ball to eliminate air pockets.

Watering to moisten the soil before the hole is completely filled will also help to alleviate some of the air pockets. Once this is done, fill in the hole with the rest of the soil. Water your new shade tree well. If you don't get regular rainfall, continue to water newly planted trees thoroughly (an inch of water once a week), in the first season.

Apply a 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch to soil at tree base in a 3-foot circle. This helps conserve moisture, reduces competition from grass and weeds and reduces the chance of damage to the trees trunk from lawn mowers or weed trimmers. If your shade tree is too tall to stand alone or has a less developed root system, staking it will help your tree remain upright until it is strong enough to stand on its own.

Drive two or three stakes into the ground just outside the ridge of earth. Attach a broad, soft woven cloth to each stake, wrap the cloth around the tree trunk and attach the second end of the cloth to the stake. Remove the stakes after the tree becomes firmly rooted and well established.