How to Spot and Help Prevent Branch Breakage on Trees

How to Spot and Help Prevent Branch Breakage on Trees

As author John Steinbeck once said, “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?” Some of us know all about the extremes of winter: the bitter cold temperatures, artic-like winds and, of course, blankets of snow and ice.

It’s true, residents of some regions often encounter wicked winter conditions before enjoying the sunny summer days that now seem a lifetime away. But after experiencing heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures—for months on end—can our trees feel that same sweetness of summer? Or, do they still suffer?

Branch breakage is just one sign your trees may be suffering from the winter season. So, how can you help? First, know what causes branch breakage and how to prevent it with these tips:

What Causes Branch Breakage:

Extreme, rapid temperature changes. For some of us, this winter has already been full of extremes. One day it is 10 degrees, the next it is 40, and your trees feel it, too. Sudden ground freezes and rapid temperature fluctuations can cause stress and breakage to your trees.

Heavy limbs. Many times, the weight caused by a snow or ice storm adds extra weight to your trees’ limbs and branches. Your trees may not be prepared to bear that extra weight. As a result, trees may suffer from breakage, wounds and ragged tears from the weight.

Wicked winds. If one side of a tree is subjected to the heavy, extreme winds that accompany winter storms, they are susceptible to branch breakage. If a branch is broken or hanging as a result of wind, it can be a liability to you, your home and neighborhood.

How to Prevent Breakage:

Cable or brace. While the weather is still rather mild for some of us, head outside and prepare your trees prior to the next winter storm. Limbs and branches can loosely be cabled or braced together to help protect against breakage.

Let nature do the work. Branch breakage commonly happens due to the improper removal of ice and snow. If you have just received a fresh snow, gently remove it from branches before it freezes and causes extra weight. If your trees are encased with ice, allow the branch to melt naturally.

Precautionary pruning. Since trees experience their dormant season during winter, the season serves as a great time to prune with little injury. Pruning can help eliminate weak or broken branches, which will only cause more breakage as winter storms and extreme temperatures come into play.

For more winter tree care tips, download our full winter checklist to help your trees see a healthy winter!

Suspect your trees may be suffering from branch breakage? We can help! Contact your local, professionally trained Davey arborist for a free consultation.

Add a comment:
Related Blog Posts
  • Why You Should Start Looking for Winter Tree Damage

    The following blog post has been adapted from the "Look for Winter Tree Damage in Spring" Davey contibuted to icma.org. Spring is a great time to inspect your trees for both obvious and not-so-obvious problems.

    Vertical cracks are a sign of sun scald. The cold, bitter winter months can cause both types of issues.

    In spring, trees should be leafing out and flowering consistently. Obvious signs of damage from winter might be dead branches, which will have no new leaf tissue and will appear barren compared with the remaining limbs of an otherwise healthy tree.

    Read More
  • Tree Care Tips from the Winter of a Lifetime

    Read the following blog post from Jason Gaskill, sales arborist for Davey's King of Prussia tree services, ISA certifed arborist and Qualified Tree Risk Assessor. Gaskill's piece was originally published on the Community Associations Institute Pennsylvania and Delaware Valley Chapter's website. During the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014, we all felt the wrath of one of North America’s most frigid winters ever in more ways than one. We experienced frozen pipes, strained backs from shoveling snow, lost productivity and income, and damage to valuable landscape assets. Like us, trees and shrubs also experienced this harsh winter. If nothing else, last winter’s tough lessons can translate into better preparedness for this year’s cold.

    Many of you saw the damage throughout the region; trees suffered downed limbs and broken tops or were uprooted entirely—sometimes falling and causing property damage. Nary a neighborhood went unaffected by fallen branches, toppled trees, or a combination of both. Many homeowner associations and communities that were already digging further into their budgets to cover the cost of excess snow removal suddenly needed to pay for emergency tree services, cleanup and landscape repair projects. 

    You might ask, do trees lost to severe weather events need to be replaced? Research has shown that trees contribute much more than just shade, oxygen and aesthetics. A lost tree is a loss of its contribution in storm water management, noise reduction, wildlife habitat and other benefits to the local ecology. There is an emotional response trees solicit within us, the loss of which can be detrimental to a property’s value. Davey research shows that one tree in a front yard adds as much as one percent to the value of a home. Considering a tree’s value now, would we all not consider taking care of those assets? Tree care is budget protection and it’s cheaper to maintain a tree than it is to replace a poorly maintained tree lost to a winter storm.

    Read More

Request a consultation

What do you need services for?
Sorry, we can’t seem to find the zip code you specified. Our residential tree care offices may not service your area. If you believe this is an error, please try again. Need help? Email us at info@davey.com.
  • Email newsletter
  • Woodchips
*Please fill out all required fields.