From shade tree to artwork

Last week my parents decided that they needed to have a tree removed from their yard because they were nervous about how close it was getting to their house.  Personally, I do not know if it would have ever caused a problem but my dad is old and stubborn and once he has something in his head, it is nearly impossible to convince him otherwise.

After finding out about the impending doom of the majestic oak that resides in my parents front yard I had a fun idea.  I figured why not use the wood from the tree for something fun and artistic. I remembered a couple years back that I had found a wood carver at a festival in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  I still had the guys card in my wallet.  I gave the guy a call and he gave me a quote on how much it would  cost to turn a 5 foot tree trunk into a sculpture in my parents front yard.

The silly thing about the carved statue that I am commissioning is that it is gonna be a raccoon.  I know, I know…. a raccoon?  You say?  Yes a raccoon.  I guess I should have mentioned that my dads nickname growing up was rocky, as in Rocky Raccoon.  Not totally sure on why but he said it might have had something to do with the fact that he was nocturnal when he was younger.  Either way the nickname stuck and people still call my 60 year old father Rocky.  My dad still works a full time job so we decided that we will try to keep this as a surprise.  It should not be too hard to pull off because my mom is gonna be the person in charge of being around for the actual tree removal.  Once the tree service has the bulk of the tree taken down, the wittler will get to work.  He assumes he can get it done up in several hours.  He might not have it stained up in time but so long as the statue is carved then I am happy.  The tree company out of Howell that is taking down the tree is named Livingston Tree Service and they are happy to leave the bottom quarter of the stump in place, actually they are ecstatic because they won’t have to bring out their stump grinder.

As long as everything goes as planned, we should have it all done someday next week.  I will be sure to post a picture when it gets done. Picture below is similar to what I was thinking although I hope to make it look a bit more finished than the one in the picture.


How to Choose the Proper Tree for your Large Yard

Picking the right tree for your specific situation is not a perfect science but we have noticed there are some trees that work better than others in certain situations. We have created a list of 5 species that we think are the best option for planting in the midwest. All of the trees in our list are readily available at most reputable tree farms. This list is targeted towards a larger yard or landscape as all of the trees on this list will eventually grow to be quite large in size. We may in the future, create a list of small trees that are better for a smaller area.  If you would like us to do that please leave a comment below.

We know that the amount of choices when selecting a tree seems relatively endless but we took out some of the guess work out of narrowing things down.  This list is not an all inclusive one but we believe this will give you a great starting point from which to choose an awesome tree for your big yard. You should always keep a trees characteristics in mind when making your final choice.

I used a list of some of the most popular trees in North America as a starting point from which to create my list.  The number one criteria for my list is for the tree to be novice friendly.  I believe that when you make an investment into a tree that it is not much fun to deal with trees that tend to get sick or are tough to grow.  We like happy and healthy trees that are easy to grow from a seedling.

Without further adieu…..



5. Flowering Dogwood– This is argued to be the most beautiful tree that produces blooms on its limbs that is also native to the United States.



Red Maple tree





4. Red Maple– I Love red maples, so much so that I actually planted a couple in my own yard.  These trees are absolute beasts.  They love the climate here which makes them a breeze to grow. See pic on right.

3. River Birch– This hardy tree is a great choice. It has large leaves and a tremendous amount of vigor.  It is also quite resistant to leaf spot!  Really can’t go wrong with this big bad boy!

2. Sycamore– Very distinct green leaves that offer a great choice as a shade tree.  Some homeowners use these trees to shade their house from the morning and evening sun which can help keep down their a/c bill.

1. White or Red Oak– Not placing the mighty oak tree on the list would be an absolute travesty. The oak tree has earned quite a reputation as one of the most hardy of all North American trees.  I used to love climbing the giant oak that we had in our backyard when I was a kid.  We actually had to have the tree removed after it started growing too large and was impeding on our garage. Tree removal is a quite disappointing thing when you have had a living thing for that long but I suppose it is just part of life.



There is no perfect tree

Remember, all types of trees have pros and cons. Trees can give you exactly what you are looking for while it is young and may eventually grow into something you don’t want in the future. That is why it is very important to really dive in deep before making any quick decisions.  Having a “cool” looking tree is nice but choosing a tree solely for its outer appearance may end as tragically as it would when choosing a mate in the same way.  Starting a tree from a seedling can be quite a task so be sure to learn the proper steps involved before taking it on. If starting from a seedling is too daunting for you, we won’t judge you too harshly if you decide to take a shortcut and purchase a young tree to transplant.  We hope that you liked our list.  Stay green!


My Willow Tree

I just want to start with a quick little story about my favorite tree when I was younger. The willow tree. We had one in our backyard in the back left corner. It was huge and it hung over the fence but the trunk was in our yard so it was my tree.

I would always go out and sit in it, there was a “little nook” that was perfect for chilling out. Weather permitting, I would sit all day and read in it or play with my current favorite toy. I could stay in that tree all day, or night if my parents would have let me.

That is until one night we had a really bad thunderstorm and lightening struck the tree and it literally split in half. It knocked down the fence and into the two yards that bordered our. I was completely and utterly devastated. I had hoped that the tree was fixable but my dad try to explain to me that the tree was done and there was nothing we could do about it. I was probably three or four years old but I clearly remembering being inconsolable about it.

After my parents had the “mess” cleaned up and the fence mended we had that ugly metal box sitting in the place where my tree should have been. I guess that when lightening strikes you need to protect the area or some such thing like that. I vowed then that when I grew up I would always have a willow tree in my yard and I do. It is my go to tree to plant as well when I plant trees that my husband needs to uproot. I plant all different types of trees that are hardy for my area but I will plant as many willows as I can.

Thanks, Patty