Dealing with Broken Branches Due To Ice, Snow and Winter Storm Damage

Trees heavily laden with snow and ice can experience a lot of winter storm damage.  With the recent heavy snows in the Minneapolis area, you may have some in your yard.  Trees and shrubs branches can bend over under the weight and strain of several inches of snow. Or snow that is followed by rain turning into snow results in broken branches. Dealing with the winter damage of snow can have a lasting damaging effect on your garden and landscape for all seasons.  Winter damage in the northern Midwest can be hard to avoid.  When sudden damage happens to a tree or shrub, it causes that plant to use its stored reserves to heal itself. In the winter knowing what to do can help protect your trees and shrubs.

When a winter snowstorm occurs, go out and gently remove the snow from branches and trees. Using a broom remove snow from trees, gently shaking the branches to remove snow is okay. Resist aggressively shaking of the trees.

When branches are broken due to ice snow or winter storms that cause the branches to break leave the branches until the end of winter. If there is a safety issue than you can remove them. Otherwise wait until the end of winter to prune the broken trees and branches to an inch above the live bud or the branch collar of the next living branch. This will help the plant start to stimulate growth. The damaged branches may also drop naturally.

Some trees like arborvitae, junipers, and birch are the most susceptible to snow and ice damage. Cabling some of these trees during the fall will help them during the winter avoid injuries. If there are long limbs of trees that start to bend in the winter, weaving them in among other limbs can prevent future damages.

If you have any questions about how to handle damage that’s happened to your trees and shrubs, contact a landscape professional for advice.