January 27

Dealing With Snow Covered Trees

Seasonal, Trees


Snow is something that many of us just have to deal with in our lives – we watch it fall (still slightly in awe of it like we were when we were kids), immediately hate it because we have to shovel ourselves out, complain about it as we drive to work, wonder how those mountains of snow stay in parking lots until May, and then hope for it again once December rolls around.

It is the circle of life.

However, there is something that many people don’t think about in that snow circle: their trees. Snow can impact trees in many different ways, and you need to be cognizant of them at all times during the winter months. After snowstorms with more than a few inches or ice storms of any size, you want to remember to check on your trees and take steps to ensure they are safe.

What do you need to be aware of after the next storm? Take a look:

4. You Shouldn’t Let The Snow Accumulate

Snow covered tree
Credit: Isaac Wedin
  • Remove when it is safe for you to do so
  • You can use a broom to do so
  • Try not to move the plant too much

Try not to let snow accumulate on the top of smaller trees or shrubs. You cannot really prevent it when you have larger trees, but you want to remove as much as you possibly can from the lower branches. To do so, use your hands or a broom – do not use something that could harm the tree in any way. Remember that trees do a lot of work in the winter, and you don’t want to do anything that can mess with that.

However, as Hick’s Nursery points out, you do not want to shake trees at all, nor do you want to try to break off ice. Ice can break the tree branches and cause more damage. Make sure to check the base of the trunk and remove any ice from the dirt, but do not remove any from the tree itself.

3. Ice Is The Biggest Enemy

Ice Tree
Credit: John Dal
  • Consider adding supports before a storm
  • Do not add support after the storm
  • Clean up may be the most important thing

After an ice storm, your trees need to just be, like mentioned above. Once the ice has thawed, then you start to assess the damage. According to KWHC 12, once the thaw occurs, then you can take steps. You want to look for damage. This can include branches that have fallen, breaks in the trunk, or areas of the tree that just don’t look healthy.

Of course, you want to alert the proper people if branches do fall due to the storm. This is especially true if they are blocking any roadway or if they have downed any powerlines. You don’t want to handle those incidents by yourself because the trees can be electrified or dangerous. It is best to get support from your local services.

As always, make sure that you aren’t putting yourself in danger.

2. You Can Treat Broken Branches Immediately

Ice laden tree
Credit: Henry Burrows
  • Gently knock on them
  • Remove them if they pose a threat
  • Most likely cannot be fixed

If you have a branch that is broken and looks like it is ready to fall, you can take care of that branch. It might seem counterintuitive to what was just said, but that heavy branch can cause harm to the rest of the tree. The truth is that, according to WTOP, most healthy branches won’t snap. This means that the broken branch probably had something wrong with it.

Still, you want to inspect the tree branch or keep it for someone else to inspect. This can help to give you some insight into your tree and its health. At the very least, you should be able to tell just why that particular branch decided to snap.

Once again, only go outside when it is safe for you to do so. Also, you only want to get broken branches that you can reach and handle on your own.

1. Shrubbery Is Impacted As Well

snow laden shrubs
Credit: Tim Green
  • Can be tackled immediately
  • More susceptible to damage
  • May need additional support

According to the Chicago Tribune, “You will need to wait until the ground thaws to straighten any plants that have fallen over. It is likely that these plants will need to be staked for the first year to provide additional support.”  This isn’t just something that you can recover from, especially with shrubbery that typically doesn’t have the underlying root system to support the tree.

Shrubs are a different story, you can brush them off if there is snow lying on the branches of almost the entire thing. It is best to do this while the snow is falling, because once again, ice compaction can hurt the shrubs.

Thankfully, most shrubs will naturally dispose of the snow since they don’t tend to have the strength to hold up the weight. Remember, however, that all shrubs are different and if you have them planted too closely together, there may be other problems.

Snow is dangerous for your trees, no matter where you have them planted or how you take care of them. When winter comes around, it is best to be prepared before the snow even starts falling. Know that your trees are healthy and can withstand the weight of the snow.

Contact Menchhofer Tree Care for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down – and of course, any seasonal problems that you might have with your trees. If you are having trouble making decisions about how to best care for your tree, we are there to help you at any time. Remember that acting sooner rather than later will help you to get the most out of your trees and keep your home safe.

Call us today at 317-661-4240.

Header photo courtesy of  Angy DS on Flickr!

Menchhofer Tree Care

About Steve Menchhofer

Steve Menchhofer has been caring for the trees of the Indianapolis, Indiana metro area for over 40 years. Steve and his team of experienced, certified arborists are members of the International Society of Arboriculture and the Indiana Arborist Association.

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