Saturday, November 28, 2015

Protecting Trees From Heavy Snow by Donna Duffy

Photo courtesy tree
Winter weather has arrived and the snow is falling! Take precautions to avoid this kind of tree damage.  Here are some suggestions on protecting your trees from the weight of heavy snow from Curtis Utley, Jefferson County CSU Extension Research Associate.

Bending and breakage on columnar arbovitaes. Photo courtesy Michigan State University Extension.
Upright growing trees like arborvitae and columnar junipers are vulnerable to breakage by heavy winter snows. One method of protection is to wrap them in thick twine. Start at the bottom of the tree and wrap around the outside, working your way up. Tie it snugly, but not so tight that it breaks branches and deforms the shape of the tree. Avoid using wire because it can damage branches. In the spring after the danger of snow, remove the twine.

Deciduous, fast growing trees are sometimes considered “weak wooded” because the branches are subject to winter snow damage. If heavy snow occurs, use a broom (with bristles facing upward) to loosen snow from the branches. Tap the branches gently from below rather than using the broom to knock snow off the top of the branches. You can also toss a soccer ball into the upper tree branches to loosen snow high up, but be gentle. These snow removal procedures may require you to stand under the branches - so dress accordingly! 

If your tree has breakage from heavy winter snow, properly prune the broken branch back to the point of attachment as soon as it’s safe to do so. The tree will preferentially grow new branches based on available sunlight. It’s possible that the new growth will rebalance the look of the tree. If not, you can consult with an arborist to explore selective pruning to achieve a balanced look.

And finally, if heavy snow is predicted, pay close attention to where you park your car!