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Protecting Trees From Snow And Ice Damage

December 21, 2015 by John Griffiths, Master Arborist

The sparkle of snow and ice brings a special beauty to the cool winter temps of the Midwest. The same snow and ice that add beauty to winter, however, can also be a potential hazard to your trees and shrubs by adding stress and strain to their limbs and branches.

Because of this added stress and strain, it is wise to remove the heavy snow that accumulates on your plants before it freezes and breaks or deforms the branches. To do so, gently lift branches upward with a broom or strong pole and shake the snow off, starting near the top of the plant. If snow has already frozen on the branches or if ice has formed, it’s best to wait until temperatures rise above freezing – trying to remove frozen snow and ice from your trees and shrubs can cause more damage than good.

Digging even deeper… Trees and shrubs with horizontal branching tend to be less susceptible to snow and ice damage. Most conifers, including juniper, yew, spruce, and pine, have relatively flexible branches and are well adapted to shedding snow before it becomes so heavy that it breaks branches. However, multi-stem shrubs and trees, and those with narrow upright branching, can be seriously harmed when heavy accumulations pull branches apart. Sometimes, tying the stems of such shrubs together can reduce winter damage. But prevention is a better approach: prune properly and maintain your plants so that they develop strong limbs and branches that resist winter injury.

Learn more about how you can protect your trees from weather elements.

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