Trees provide innumerable benefits, including protection and enhancement to your property. Not only do they intercept stormwater runoff, conserve electricity usage and improve air quality, but also your trees can buffer strong winds that enter your property.
So, as they help you year-round, it's important to give your trees the proper care and attention they deserve. Investing time and money before a major snow storm is smart and cost efficient. Our winter checklist has great resources for preparing your property for the winter season. (Download a printable version for you, too!)
But even after heavy snow does fall, you can protect your trees and property with these simple tips:
Do not shake limbs to try to remove snow or ice.
When you find your trees are bending or drooping as a result of ice and snow accumulation, your first instinct is probably to shake the branches. This may cause breakage or damage. Plants are flexible, so knocking off the weight of accumulation may cause them to "snap" back, potentially damaging the circulatory system. Have an arborist examine damaged branches for signs of weakness.
Safely remove broken limbs.
If a limb breaks off from the weight of ice or snow and remains in the tree canopy, have it removed and the stub properly cut as soon as the weather allows. Hanging branches can be a danger to people and property. In addition, the tree will heal better when properly pruned. For undamaged limbs bending under the weight of ice or snow, don't prune as a means of correcting the situation; the limbs should return naturally as the weather conditions change.
Prevent snow and ice damage to trees.
How, you ask? Proper pruning is one way. Particularly important is the removal of hazardous, dead or weak branches. Trees that tend to suffer the worst damage as a result of snow and ice are upright evergreens, like arborvitae and juniper, and clump trees, like birch. And, when it comes to ice, age does not make a tree stronger; younger trees actually tend to survive better in ice storms.
Always be mindful of walking or parking under branches weighed down by snow or ice as they may snap and fall, causing injury or damage. If a limb breaks and becomes entangled in power lines, notify your utility company immediately.