Here in Denver, snow and ice are are winter staples, and most trees have learned to adapt to these harsh conditions. Even so, trees can be severely damaged by the weight of compacted snow and thick layers of ice, leading to dangerous conditions for the tree’s health — and your own. Let’s look at some things you can do in order to save your damaged tree after a snow storm.
What are the Signs of Snow and Ice Damage?
Some common signs that your tree has undergone damage from snow or ice include:
- Bowed branches, reaching toward the ground
- Snapped branches on the ground
- Broken branches hanging in the tree
- Torn pieces of bark or shattered branches
- The tree is leaning abnormally
Assess the Damage to Your Tree
Before assessing your tree, make sure the conditions are safe enough for you to approach the area. From a distance, observe your tree and look for signs of bowing branches or a leaning tree. Look for downed power lines or broken branches that are leaning on power lines above. If you can safely approach the tree, and it’s small enough, you may be able to save it yourself. If, on the other hand, your tree is very tall, or if there are large, broken branches on the ground, it’s best to call a professional. Branches are heavy, and an arborist will have the equipment and knowledge to safely care for your injured tree.
Carefully Remove Snow From the Tree
If your tree is small, and if you feel comfortable approaching it safely, you can begin to remove snow from its branches. Use a broom or other object to carefully sweep snow off the tree, effectively removing excess weight from its branches. If the snow is compacted or has begun to melt, you can use a shovel to knock the snow off. Use upward sweeping motions and take care not to break or injure branches in the process.
Remove Broken Branches
Broken limbs that are small need to be pruned at the point where they join larger branches. This will lessen the chances that your tree can become sick from bacteria entering its wounds. To prune small branches, it’s important to make cuts in the correct places. You’ll need to make a partial cut on the bottom of the branch, several inches from where it meets the trunk. Then, make another cut on top of the branch, but several inches away. That way, when it falls, the branch will fall easily. Finally, make a cut near the branch collar, where it joins the trunk.
Large branches that are broken will need to be pruned as well. In most cases, it’s best to call in the pros. They’ve got the tools and expertise to safely prune your tree, while ensuring that it will heal properly where cuts have been made.
Bracing and Staking Your Tree
If your tree is young and leaning significantly, it may be necessary to provide support so it will continue to grow vertically. To do this, use a mallet to drive two or three stakes into the ground around the outer perimeter of the tree’s root ball. Then, push the tree upright by carefully adding even pressure to its trunk. Use special straps to attach the stakes to the tree, and make sure the tree has enough slack to sway, but is thoroughly supported.
A young, leaning tree may require bracing and staking for up to a year in order to ensure that it grows correctly.
As always, a healthy tree is most likely to weather storms with ease while avoiding disease and infestation. You can encourage your tree to stay healthy and strong by fertilizing it each spring.
If you’ve got questions about how to care for your trees after a snow storm, or if you’d like tips on how to keep it healthy, we’d be happy to help. Contact us at American Arbor Care today.