Snow and ice that packs onto tree branches can lead to stress and potential damage, but taking action before and after snowfall can help maintain tree health.

Protecting Trees From Snow and Ice Damage

December 1, 2015

Winter scenery can be quite beautiful with bright, white snow covering our yards, and bare trees dusted with flakes. But as temperatures get cooler and snow gets heavier, Mother Nature’s decoration on our trees can end in a not-so-pretty result.

Snow and ice that packs on to tree branches can lead to stress and potential damage. Trees like evergreens and clump trees (such as birch and maple trees) tend to suffer the worst damage, while younger trees tend to survive better in ice storms.

Whatever type of tree you’re dealing with, being proactive before and after snowfall can help maintain tree health.

The Problem

Snow and ice on trees can weigh down limbs and branches, ultimately causing broken and damaged trees. Trees that are unprepared to bear the extra weight need attention before severe winter weather kicks on.

The Preemptive Solution

The weather is still mild for some of us, leaving opportunity to protect branches against breakage. Branches can be loosely cabled and braced before winter elements roll in to prevent branch failure.

Pruning is another pre-winter task to help eliminate already weak and broken branches. Proper pruning is the best way to stop ice from damaging your trees.

The Post-Storm Solution

It is important to avoid shaking branches that are coated with snow and ice. The ice cover makes limbs brittle, and shaking a frail branch can do more harm than good. Additionally, knocking off the weight may cause the branch to “snap back,” potentially damaging the circulatory system. The best solution is to allow the branch to melt naturally.

If your area just received a light snowfall, take the time to gently remove snow from branches before it freezes and adds extra weight.

Beyond care for your trees, make sure you are looking out for the safety of yourself and your property. Always be mindful of branches weighed down by snow or ice as they many snap and fall causing injury or damage.

To schedule a consultation for pruning and cabling and bracing, or to ask additional questions about tree safety in winter elements, contact your local arborist.


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