Pre-Spring Pruning: Tips and Techniques

tree ladnscapingWhen it comes to preparing your trees and shrubs for spring, one of the best things you can do is prune. For most Michigan landscapes, the best time to prune is March. This is due to the fact that the trees and shrubs are still dormant, and there is a lack of foliage, which gives you the clearest view of which branches need to be removed.


Knowing proper pruning techniques is the first step in preparing your trees and shrubs for a successful growing season. So, if you’re looking to have the best landscape on the block, follow these pre-spring pruning tips and techniques!


Know The Types Of Cuts

The two types of pruning cuts you can make are called heading cuts, and thinning cuts. Heading cuts are deep cuts, far back on the shoot and just below the buds closest to the dead or diseased branch. The direction in which a heading cut is made determines where the growth will be pointed. These cuts are most commonly used to reduce the height of the tree or shrub while encouraging new growth in a new direction (heading cuts are perfect for re-shaping).


Thinning is the more common cut, and it is used for completely removing dead or diseased branches. Thinning cuts go all the way back to the point of origin, which is either the stem or an attached branch. This cut is used to:

  • Improve the overall health of the tree
  • Create a more aesthetically pleasing landscape
  • Create clearance, and remove potentially dangerous “hanging” branches


correct way to prune bushes and treesKnow Why You Are Pruning

Before you go outside with your shears and start snipping branches at random, take a minute and ask yourself why you are pruning that tree. Are you pruning dead and diseased branches to thin, giving that tree easier access to sunlight and oxygen? Will you be pruning to reduce the size of the tree or shrub, giving it more room to grow? Are you pruning to shape, to improve the look of your lawn and landscape? Ask yourself these questions, and make sure to do proper research to ensure proper pruning!


Know The 1/3 and 1/4 Rule

As a general rule of thumb:

  • Never remove more than 1/3 of the branches on your shrubs and small trees
  • Never remove more than 1/4 of the branches on larger, fully grown trees

Remember, pruning is good in moderation. Over-pruning can cause the tree or shrub to panic, and try to force re-growth when the necessary nutrients aren’t available. This puts them at risk of causing either extensive damage or stunted growth. Just be careful!


Know Who To Call

If your trees and shrubs need pruning, or if you want to get some more tips and techniques about how you can prune yourself, give the experts at PPM a call.


Through our trimming service, our team of professionals will provide your trees and shrubs with fine, detail-orientated pruning. Ultimately encouraging the health and growth of the tree or shrub, while improving the aesthetics of your landscape. Contact us today at (877) 454-8733 to hear more!


Firewood: Everything You Need To Know

 types of unseasoned woodIt’s the time of year when we put down our rakes and shovels, winterize our sprinkler systems, and park our lawn mowers for the winter as we retreat inside. The weather may be cold but nothing beats curling up next to a warm fire with a cup of cocoa.

Before you get comfortable you better make sure you have plenty of firewood on hand. But what is the best type of firewood to burn? Well, it depends on your personal preference and where you live.

Seasoned Wood or Unseasoned Wood

Anyone who’s tried burning unseasoned logs in their fireplace during the winter knows that it’s a bad idea. It’s hard to light and when you finally do get it lit you have to constantly monitor it to make sure it doesn’t go out. To make things worse, unseasoned wood is still full of water which causes a lot of smoke.

Seasoned wood should always be your first choice. Seasoned just means that the wood has been drying for a long time and retains no more moisture. These are the kind of logs that you want to use in your house because they smell great and burn clean.

On the other hand, unseasoned wood is wood that was recently cut and therefore still retains a lot of moisture. It may be easier but you’ll soon learn it’s not ideal.

Unseasoned wood can give off the resin that clings to the walls of your stove, fireplace, and chimney. As the resin builds up it can clog your chimney, causing smoke to fill your house, or even cause chimney fires.

Best Types of Firewood

 oak tree firewood, fireplace woodOak: A slow burner that is probably the most popular wood available. It’s dense and is found throughout the continent. Although it takes longer than usual to season, a fire built with oak logs cannot compare.

Maple: Maple wood produces long steady burns. As with oak, it is abundant and found in almost every corner of the country and is a very popular choice among wood burners.

Birch: Birch logs look beautiful just sitting in a fireplace. The flakey white bark really draws the eye. Even though birch burns quicker than maple or oak but the flame it produces is much more beautiful.

American Elm: Elm is a popular, low heat wood. Perfect for warming your house but not too warm. This is ideal for people who live in milder climates who don’t want to turn their house into a sweat lodge.

Cherry: Cherry wood gives off a wonderful aroma that will fill your house, creating a warm comfortable mood. Cherry does not need to be fully seasoned like most woods to reap its benefits.

At PPM Trees we select and deliver only the best firewood for our customers. Check out our firewood delivery service and keep your house the perfect temperature this winter.

Best Ways of Removing Old Stumps

stump removal in natureWe love trees for their sturdiness and hardiness but when they die or need to be removed those traits can come back to haunt us. Cutting the tree down is the easy part. Stump removal is the hard part.

Since humans first started cutting trees down they have had to deal with stump removal and there are about as many techniques on stump removal as there have been versions of the mousetrap. I will go through some of the best ways to remove a stump and list the pros and cons of each.

Chemical removal:

If you visit your local hardware or garden center you will find several products that claim to be able to speed up the process of stump decomposition. Sure, it sounds easy, too easy.

Going the chemical route means you need to have access to an electric drill and be able to drill a lot of holes depending on the size of the stump. The holes allow the chemical to seep into the wood.

This isn’t going to magically remove the sump overnight. The chemical process can take a season or two to soften the wood up enough to be removed. Even then, the tree might not be soft enough everywhere to bust apart.

The instructions also suggest using kerosene to burn the stump. Soak the stump with kerosene, light it, and the stump will slowly burn away. When I say “slowly” I mean SLOWLY. It might take several burns to completely remove the stump.

Pros: It’s faster than nature

Cons: You will still have a stump for a while

Burning the Stump:

The first idea that people usually jump to is burning the stump. Sure, it’s made of wood and a stump is just a big log, right?

Two things:

how to remove a tree stump by burning itWood from a tree trunk is often much denser than wood from branches. That’s because as trees age their centers become harder.

If the tree has been dead a while before you cut it down the wood might be harder than a living tree.

The idea is that if you pile wood around the stump and maybe use some kind of accelerant that the stump will burn out completely.

In my experience, this only makes things worse. Building a fire around a stump, even if you have drilled holes or cut slats in it, will only make the stump harder. You are essentially fire hardening the stump.

Pros: It’s a good excuse to have a bonfire.

Cons: Only hardens the wood.

Stump grinder:

If you want that stump gone today then rent a stump grinder. This may be the last resort for people and there’s a good reason. It works 100% of the time. This machine can chew up even the biggest stumps in a few hours and they dig 6 to 12 inches below ground. All you are left with is a hole filled with wood chips. Perfect for planting a new tree or garden. Be sure to follow the safety instructions before you operate the machine.

Pros: Great for big stumps or several stumps

Cons: Requires operating heavy machinery for several hours

Let Nature Take its Course:

If you are in no hurry to remove the stump you could always let nature take its course. A stump can stay solid for several years. Depending on its size, good sized stump can stick around for a decade. Many people like to take advantage of it by carving the stump into something unique or using it as a stand for flower pots.

Pros: You can incorporate it into your landscape

Cons: Stump can remain for ten years.

Call The Professionals

Removing a stump is not easy no matter how you look at it. If you want to have your stump removed right away and safely then call the professionals at PPM Trees. We have the equipment and the know-how to get out any sized stump.

Call us today at (877) 454-8733 or leave us a message on our site.


Top 5 Ways To Protect Your Trees From Winter Damage

 how to wrap trees in winterMichigan winters are ruthless. At any point in time, Michigan can get hit with snow, ice, rain, sleet, hail, cold winds, warm winds, or… All of them in one day! It’s around this time each year that the weather really begins to take its toll on us.

Unfortunately, winter isn’t just stressful on us; it’s stressful on our trees as well. And even though trees are dormant this time of year, they are not immune to damage caused by the cold, wet weather. The good news is you can be ready! Here are the top 5 ways to protect your trees from winter damage.

Wrap Your Trees

One of the biggest threats facing young, newly planted trees (or thin-barked trees) is sunscald. Sunscald occurs on cold winter days when the sun heats the bark up which starts activity. Once the sun is covered, the bark temperature drops significantly, killing any active tissue.

Wrapping your trees allows the bark temperature to stay consistent, protecting the tree from sunscald. Also, as an added bonus, tree wrapping eliminates a food source for hungry critters, and it protects against damage caused by salt and snowplows!

Apply Wilt Pruf

One of the keys to survival for trees during the winter months is water retention. One of the biggest threats your trees face this winter is water loss due to freezing cold winds, the frozen ground, or from salt. Wilt pruf is an anti-desiccant spray you can apply to your trees to aid in preventing transpiration caused by the weather. It’s a safe, all-natural way to protect your trees from winter damage.

Watch The Snow and Ice

While some snow is actually good for your trees, as it provides insulation, too much snow can cause damage. Heavy amounts of snow or ice can cause branches to bend and break, leaving healthy portions of the tree exposed to the elements. If it appears like snow or ice is weighing down parts of your tree, go outside with a shovel or broom and gently brush the snow off the branches, or break the ice.

Watch The Salt

protect trees in michigan wintersAs previously mentioned, retaining moisture is critical for your trees during the cold winter months. When spreading salt, be careful to apply only what is needed, where it is needed. Keep it on your walkway or driveway, and not in your grass or near your trees. You may also want to look at using an alternative de-icing salt (calcium chloride/magnesium) that will have less of an effect if it gets near your landscape.

Water When Possible

Although trees are dormant during winter, they still have some metabolic abilities that allow them to absorb water. Keep an eye on the weather, and if there are a couple of days where there is warm weather (38 degrees or above), no snow, nor high winds in sight, you can go outside and water your trees. Make sure to water early on in the day, and water less than you would during the spring or summer. It will help!

If one of your trees has been a victim of winter damage, call the professionals at PPM Tree Service. We can help! (877) 454-8733

Clever Ways To Dispose of Your Christmas Tree

use your christmas tree for firewood

Your Christmas tree, once the proud centerpiece of your holiday decor, now is dried up and useless… or is it? Don’t just throw it to the curb for the garbage truck. The least you could do for the object that brought you so much joy is to reuse it. Check out these clever ways to dispose of that old Christmas tree.


Use Your Christmas Tree for Firewood

The most obvious way to dispose of a Christmas tree, and the easiest, is to use it as firewood. Either toss it on your outdoor fire pit or cut it up into small logs that can fit in your fireplace. First, lop off all the branches then cut the logs into short segments. Needles make an excellent firestarter. But beware, dried needles burn extremely fast. If you burn too many at one time, your fire might get out of control!


Replant It

If you got a tree with its roots still intact then simply keep it alive until spring and replant your Christmas tree in your yard. It’s a great way to give back to the Earth and reduce your footprint on the environment. If you do it every year you’ll soon have a pine tree forest of holiday memories.


Use the Needles as Mulch

dispose of christmas tree
The biggest complaint about live Christmas trees is the mess it makes in your house. They may have been a pain to vacuum up, but pine needles make an excellent mulch. Cut the branches off and shake the needles into your garden or flower beds.


Use it as an Artifical Reef

Yes, this is actually a thing. If you own or have access to a pond or lake, then consider tossing the dead tree in. it will sink to the bottom and create a home/playground for fish. As it decomposes, algae will start to grow on it and act as a buffet, attracting all sorts of water animals. If you do not own the pond or lake please contact the owner or the local DNR for permission.


We hope these interesting tips from PPM Tree Service gave you some ideas about how to dispose of your unwanted Christmas tree. If you need any tree service done whether it’s tree removal or tree planting, think of PPM Tree Service. Call at (877) 454-8733 or leave us a message on our site.

All things Christmas trees!

We hope you enjoy the holiday season with your beautiful Christmas Tree. If you have questions about tree care service, contact us at (877)454-8733 for a quote at PPM Tree Service & Arbor Care, LLC.


Christmas Tree, Tree Trimming, Michigan



Tree Trimming vs. Tree Pruning

Trimming and pruning are two of the best ways for homeowners to take care of their trees. Both of these services create an aesthetically pleasing landscape and encourage the health and growth of your trees. But before you head into your garden with clippers and shears, it is important to know the differences and benefits of trimming and/or pruning. This way you can create the look you’ve always wanted, without causing any harm or damage to the trees.

Tree Trimmingtree pruning in Canton, MI

Tree trimming is mainly performed to create a clean, professional, aesthetically pleasing appearance. Any branch that does not add intrinsic value to the tree (i.e. dead, diseased, or low hanging branches) will be removed. This aids in the tree maintaining a nice, natural shape, and it adds value to your lawn and landscape.

Some other benefits to tree trimming are:

  • Health – By removing dead, dying, and diseased branches you are preventing the spread of those diseases to other healthy parts of the tree. Also, you are creating space for sun and oxygen to get to deeper parts of the tree, which improves overall health and growth.
  • Safety – Dead branches that hang over your home, garage, or cars can do serious damage to your property. All it takes is moderate to high winds, rain, and/or a storm to bring those branches crashing down. Trim those branches to significantly reduce the chances of that happening!

Tree Pruningoak wilt found on tree leaf in Michigan

Tree pruning is a tedious task, which focuses more on the trees health and structure, and less on the shape. When pruning, handheld tools are utilized to remove dead and diseased branches that can easily spread come springtime. Some of the common diseases that need to be removed via pruning are:

  • Oak wilt – A fungal disease that eventually can kill the tree
  • Dutch elm disease – Another fungal disease spread by elm beetles on elm trees
  • Fire blight – Effects fruit trees and spreads rapidly

Winter is a good time to prune your trees as these diseases have often gone dormant, and can be removed before having any negative effects come springtime. Also, it is easier to see the dead and diseased branches in the wintertime, especially after all the leaves have fallen.

By pruning now, you are preparing your trees for lush, healthy growth come springtime. By removing unnecessary branches you are creating less stress on the tree now, and more room for growth in the future. It’s a win-win!

At PPM, we offer both tree trimming and tree pruning services. Our experts will advise you on what we think is best for your trees, and we will create an optimal plan to fit your needs and create that beautiful landscape you’ve always wanted. Give us a call at (877) 454-8733 to hear more

Spruce Decline: Why Are My Spruces Looking Thin?

Cankers on blue spruce in michigan

Blue Spruce are a staple ornamental tree for Michigan homeowners due to their fast growth rate and lush blue foliage that lasts year round. But in recent years it has been discovered that they are susceptible to a wide range of insects and diseases.


The Symptoms Of Spruce Decline

The spruce decline has increased in recent years and trees are dying rapidly in many areas. The symptoms of spruce decline are progressing branch dieback which starts on the inner needles and works its way out over several years. To identify the fungus look closely at the infected needles. You will be able to see lines of small black dots along the surface. These black dots are where the spores live and are released by moisture.


Why Blue Spruces?

Blue Spruces are native to the mountains of Colorado but have been found to flourish in Michigan’s climate as well. But because Michigan’s climate is more dynamic than the Rocky Mountains this makes them susceptible to slight changes in the environment and diseases.

There are three diseases that affect blue spruce trees:


1. Needlecast: Is caused by a fungus that often infects needles on the current year’s shoots. As it progresses, the needles die, usually the year following the infection. Trees affected by needle cast have healthy outer branches but the inner branches are bare.


Pruning infected branches of blue spruce2. Tip blight: Tip blights are fungal diseases that typically cause dieback to new, emerging shoots. Tip blight is common on pines, but can also occur on spruces.

3. Cankers: Cankers are caused by fungi that infect branches or the main stem of trees. Symptoms of cankers are sores that ooze sap or resin. Cankers can prevent water and other nutrients from being transported up the tree.


How To Prevent Spreading

Prune infected branches and sweep up needles that have dropped off. Destroy or store the infected needles and limbs far from other spruces to reduce the risk of infecting other trees. There are some commercial fungicides that can protect the needles from getting infected but you must cover the entire tree and it only lasts for one season. If the disease has spread too far the best option is to remove the tree entirely.


If you have a declining spruce tree call PPM so we can remove the tree before it spreads to your other spruces.

5 Tips On Transplanting Trees

If you love trees then you hate to see them go to waste. If you have trees growing on your property in inconvenient places you might want to transplant them someplace else, why not, it’s a free tree! Here is a list of 5 tips to help you transplant a tree properly.

Prepare the Sitetree transplant

Before you even dig up the tree you should dig the hole first. It should be about three times as wide and the same depth as the root ball. If you are planting in the fall or the tree is more than 1 inch in diameter, you can rinse the soil off the roots to make it easier to handle. Set the tree in the hole so that the soil line on the tree is even with the surrounding soil. Don’t plant too deep. Cover the roots with dirt and gently pack it. Use the end of a shovel to pack dirt in further and create holes for watering. Form the dirt around the base of a tree into a bowl shape to keep water from flowing out and eroding the dirt away.

Save the Roots

The amount of roots you need to transplant a tree depends on the diameter of the trunk. Deciduous trees with a 1-inch trunk diameter should have a root ball size of about 18 inches wide and 14 inches deep. For a 2-inch diameter trunk, the root ball should be at least 28 inches wide and 19 inches deep.

Plant in the Fall

The best time to plant a tree is when the tree is dormant. Do so before the ground freezes and it can still receive adequate rainfall. Fall planting allows nutrients to be directed to the roots since there is no more demand from leaves.

Water Regularly

prune branches

Because it’s impossible to not damage roots when you transplant a tree, newly transplanted trees need a regular watering schedule for the first two to three years after planting, especially during dry periods. If you are transplanting in the fall when the tree is dormant it is not recommended to water after the first frost.


To help promote root growth and lessen stress on the tree, young trees should have lower branches pruned. This is especially true if you are planting in any season other than fall. This will help balance the loss of roots and the shock of the transplant. Remember, trees grow out, not up, so those knee high branches are going to have to be cut at some point anyway.

Trees that are over 2 inches in diameter can weigh several hundred pounds. Trees this size should be handled by a professional. If you have any trees that need planting make an appointment with PPM today.

Five Insects That Can Harm or Kill Your Trees

For a Michigan homeowner your trees are your pride and joy. You take care of them mulching, and pruning and hope they grow big and strong. But no matter how big or strong your tree is they can easily be harmed by the smallest of organisms. Here is a list of 5 dangerous insects that can cause serious damage or even kill your trees.

Tent Caterpillars Tent caterpillar

Have you noticed those silky webs covering your tree’s branches in the spring? Those are tent caterpillars and they can be aggressive destructive to your trees. Tent Caterpillars look similar to Gypsy Moths but live in large clusters inside the silky tent. From their tent the caterpillars can wreak havoc on the rest of the tree and can affect the tree’s growth. You can get rid of them with pesticides or pruning the branch the tent is on and destroy it. Do not use fire as it will kill the host branch and potentially damage the tree itself.

Gypsy Moths

Found in every county in the Lower Penninsula, the Gypsy Moth has been a plague on Michigan trees for the last 30 years. The caterpillars can leave a tree stripped of its foliage.  This will cause the tree to be stressed and vulnerable to other insects and diseases. The Gypsy Moth population was decimated in the 90s by the introduction of a fungus that kills them in the caterpillar stage. It was so effective that dead caterpillars could be seen on the sides of trees.  Their population is swelling again as recent droughts and dry springs have prevented the fungus from growing, allowing caterpillars to progress into their moth stage and lay large batches of eggs.

Elm Bark Beetle

Native to Europe and the culprit behind Dutch Elm Disease, the Elm Bark Beetle has ravaged the elm population almost to extinction in several rounds over the last century. The trees are not harmed by the beetle itself but by the deadly disease is carries. The disease causes the tree to defend itself by plugging the tissues that transport water up the tree, depriving it of nutrients and eventually killing it from the top down. Signs of an infection include yellowing leaves that progressively spread down the tree and eventually total leaf loss.

Emerald Ash BorerEmerald Ash Borer

Native to China, the Emerald Ash Borer has killed over 30 million Ash trees in southwestern Michigan since it’s first discovery in the state in summer 2002. The beetle has the potential to wipe out 700 million trees in Michigan.  Several counties are under quarantine to stop the transportation of Ash wood. The beetle attacks the tree by boring under the bark to feed. These boreholes prevent water and nutrients from going up the tree and can kill a large Ash tree in 3 to 4 years.

Asian Longhorn Beetle

Maple trees are one of the most popular shade trees in Michigan yards. They could be at risk from the Asian Longhorn Beetle, an invasive species with a particular appetite for Maple. While not currently a menace in Michigan, the insects have already claimed 18,000 trees in neighboring Ohio, making its arrival almost inevitable. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development believes that it could be worse than the Emerald Ash Borer since it is known to attack 12 different species of trees.


If you have an infected or dead tree call the professionals at PPM to take care of it for you before it infects other trees.

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