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



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.

Creative Ideas for Old Tree Stumps

The trees on our properties beautify our landscapes, offer shade and shelter from the weather, and provide a habitat for the outdoor creatures living in our backyards. Unfortunately, sometimes even the most well-cared for and maintained trees succumb to disease or the wrath of Mother Nature, requiring its removal. Once it’s cut down, most of us are left with a constant reminder of its former glory – a sad tree stump.

The good news? There are countless ways to repurpose the tree stumps in your yard, both as decoration and as functional items. Here are a few DIY projects that can breathe new life into the stumps on your property.

Decorative Mosaic Side Tablemosaic tree stump

Design your own mosaic pattern on the top of the stump for a fun, one-of-a-kind outdoor or indoor accent piece. Adhere broken glass or tiles to the stump using glue that works on both wood and glass. You’ll also need to grout inside the nooks for a finished look.

Outdoor Dining Table

Use a longer, wider stump as a base for a beautiful outside dining table. Finish with a round top and coordinating outdoor chairs for the ultimate al fresco dining experience.

Bird Bath

Adhere a large, shallow bowl or saucer to the top of the wood. Fill with water and sit back to see all the birds that once nested in your tree return to enjoy it in its new state.

Fairy Home

Create a magical fairy garden using the tree trunk as its centerpiece. Cut out a door, cover with a moss roof, and decorate with miniature ladders, windows, and anything else that transforms the wood into a mystical home for those hard-to-spot garden fairies.

Climbing Wall

Purchase a climbing wall kit from a distributor of playground accessories. Insert the footholds and grips into the wood and you’ve created a place where you little climber can test out her skills.

Backyard Thronetree stump chair

Use a chainsaw to cut out a flat seating area in the trunk, carefully sculpting the surrounding wood at a higher height to give the illusion of a throne. Kids and adults will love this new outdoor chair, perfect for reading a favorite book or reigning over an imaginary kingdom.

Charger Plates

Looking for an innovative way to create an organic tablescape? Slice the tree trunk into several uniform disks and them as charger plates at your next dinner party. Include other natural items like tree sprigs, pinecones, and leaves for a final look you will love.


Get out the power tools. First, drill drain holes into the tree trunk. Next, cut into the center of the stump, hollowing out enough room for soil and your favorite plants or flowers.


Uninterested in reusing your stump? Want that thing gone for good?

Contact PPM Tree Service Today

Need help limbing or removing trees from your property? PPM Tree Service can help. Contact our arbor care specialists today for a no-risk consultation about your tree project.

10 Michigan Plants Native Americans Used Every Day

Michigan Plants With Homeopathic Remedies

Native Americans have a centuries-long tradition of using plants for medicinal purposes. Here in Michigan, entire tribes relied on what they found in nature to cure sicknesses, heal wounds, and promote health and wellness amongst its people. Here are 10 Michigan plants that Native Americans used every day to create homeopathic remedies.


Also known as Achillea Millefolium, yarrow is a highly aromatic plant that is often used in ornamental landscapes. Native American tribes used the beautiful flowering tops of yarrow in their traditional herbal medicine practices as a means to stop excess bleeding. Applying the buds directly to cuts and wounds promotes blood clotting. Additionally, some tribes created a drink from yarrow juice and water to cure an upset stomach and other intestinal discomforts.


Speaking of upset stomachs, many Native Americans used deliciously sweet blackberries to treat a range of stomach issues. Additionally, blackberries were used to relieve inflammation throughout the body. The berry was often mixed with honey or maple syrup to soothe sore throats. Tribes even used the plant to treat bleeding gums and give immune systems an all-natural boost.


Beyond standard digestive issues, mint leaves were often made into an ointment and applied to irritated skin. Once applied, the pulverized mint would sooth rashes and itchy patches.


This fragrantly savory herb was revered as a sacred plant by many Native American tribes. They tapped into its medicinal properties to reduce joint pain.


Sage is another popular herb today that was hailed as sacred by indigenous Native Americans. Various tribes believed that sage had purifying properties and could effectively eliminate unwanted energies from the body. Sage was also used for more tangible physical relief on cuts, bruises, cramps, and even cold and flu symptoms.


Mullein bears a strong resemblance to tobacco and, ironically, was used as a primary ingredient to treat respiratory disorders. Additionally, mullein roots were made into salves to reduce swelling in joints and extremities.


Lavender is a staple here in Michigan and throughout the Midwest. Today, we love this plant’s fragrance and beautiful blooms. However, Native Americans used lavender to treat a range of conditions including headaches, fatigue, depression, and anxiety. Lavender oil contains a potent anti-inflammatory agent, making it an excellent option for bites and burns.

Black Gum Bark

The black gum tree is one of the loveliest trees found in the U.S. Native Americans saw beyond its beauty and recognized that the bark of this tree had healing energies. They would make a tea from the bark to help with chest pains.

Wild Rose

honeysuckle in michigan
Wild rose was used in several traditional treatments. Many tribes believed in the healing power of wild rose as both a preventative and cure for the common cold. When made into a tea, the petals also healed sore throats. Some even used wild rose as a mild diuretic.


Many Native Americans used honeysuckle to treat multiple ailments such as hepatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and even mumps. It was also used to help with asthmatic symptoms and upper respiratory tract infections.

What are some of your favorite homeopathic remedies using plants and herbs? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Landscaping Ideas To Beautify Your Commercial Property

The landscaping at your commercial property communicates so much about your business, like it or not. Ugly, poorly-maintained landscaping doesn’t tell a good story, while immaculate landscaping does the exact opposite.

Amazing landscaping can also boost employee morale. The investment will quickly pay off.

If you really want to stand out in a crowded marketplace, get creative with the landscaping. The plants arranged around the exterior of your business don’t have to be boring. In fact, a creative landscape can encourage people to see what you have inside.  


Theme Theme and symmetry will improve the look of your landscaping.

Every great landscaping design starts with a theme. You need one before beginning, otherwise, the result will lose potency.

Some things to consider:

  • How can landscaping accentuate the building’s architecture?
  • What is the theme of your business? How does that translate to landscaping?
  • What are competitors doing and what can you do differently or better?


Who doesn’t love a topiary? These perennial plants can be trimmed into quite a few shapes, creating just the right feel for the exterior of your property. Go with shapes that complement the architecture or add a little bit of visual interest if everything else is plain.

If it makes sense for your business, shape some topiaries to mimic what you do. For example, a toy store could have a topiary cut to look like a giant teddy bear or a toy soldier. It will make people stop and notice, then wonder what you have to offer.


Logo in Flowers

You need to promote your brand, and what better way to do that than with something everyone loves: flowers! If your property has a large flower bed in front, consider planting different colors of the same type of flowers in an arrangement that displays your logo. During the warmer times of the year, this is a much more interesting element than any traditional sign. As potential customers top to enjoy the flowers, they’ll be enticed to learn more about your business and what it does.


Vertical Garden Vertical gardens work for smaller or shared offices.

If you don’t have much room for plant life, that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate any. Vertical gardens can be installed on a porch, balcony, exterior wall, patio, or even an interior wall that gets enough natural light.

Consider any of the following:

  • Suspend pots with rope, even putting multiple pots on each length of rope.
  • Use vertical garden containers and frame them with rugged wood on a wall.
  • Add brackets to a wall, fence etc. that perfectly fit potted plants.
  • Suspend potted plants from hooks in ceilings or several on a strong rod.
  • Cut holes in planks to hold pots, then suspend multiple planks with rope.

There are many ways to create a vertical garden, so you just need to find the right one for your commercial space.


Safety and Ease of Access

No matter what landscaping ideas you decide to use, they overall must serve the ideals of safety and ease of access.

The last thing any business needs is someone being injured by landscaping that’s inherently dangerous. Yes, accidents happen, but your landscaping shouldn’t be the cause.

Landscaping shouldn’t make getting to the front door of a business difficult, even a little bit. You want a business to be friendly and welcoming to customers, not giving them an excuse to go elsewhere.


Contact PPM Tree Service & Arbor Care, LLC for help with all your landscaping needs.

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