The following blog post has been adapted from the "Look for Winter Tree Damage in Spring" Davey contributed to icma.org.
Vertical cracks are a sign of sunscald. 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.
Boxwood trees and shrubs are particularly susceptible to “winter burn” or desiccation, which is when leaf tissue dries out because of cold winds. You can help prevent winter burn by providing a plant with moisture in late fall so it stays healthy through winter.
Trees or shrubs near where snow was piled to melt throughout winter might have excess moisture at the roots. Yellowing shrubs in spring are often a telltale sign of too much water at the roots.
More subtle signs of winter deterioration in spring include winter drying, which might cause browning of some evergreen leaf margins and tips. Winter sunscald can lead to vertical cracks in the bark of a tree.
Other potential signs of winter damage include poor leaf color, discolored bark, fungal growth, oozing sap, abnormal bud appearance and leaf size—all of which could indicate root, leaf and needle injury.
When inspecting your trees, start at the bottom and move up looking for the following signs: