As January moves in, winter grows stronger. With increased winter weather, your trees and shrubs can be impacted by falling snow and heavy ice formations. These winter events can have negative consequences, but there are actions you can take to help prevent extensive damage. Follow the tips below to help ensure that you are preventing snow and ice damage to your trees and shrubs this season.
Snow Itself Is Not the Problem
While it’s true that heavy, wet snows and ice often cause broken branches, the snow itself will not hurt landscape plants. The opposite is true. Snow is an excellent insulator that protects plants from low temperatures that may injure them. Snow on the ground insulates the roots from extremely low temperatures. Roots of most landscapes are injured when the soil temperature drops below ten degrees Fahrenheit. Snow and mulches insulate the soil from extreme low air temperatures.
Help Prevent Ice Damage with Proper Pruning
Locating and pruning weak-jointed branches on vulnerable trees is essential for preventing snow and ice damage. Generally, weak branches are those with sharp crotch angles. If snow and more critically ice weighs those weak branches down, they could easily snap off. Careful pruning is preferable to a sudden break.
Avoid Shaking Branches
When you find your tree branches are covered in snow or ice, ignore the impulse to shake the snow off. If the snow is very dry and fluffy, this may be okay, but otherwise, you could damage your tree limbs. Branches coated in ice can become brittle and break more easily when shaken.
If you notice snow and ice damage to your trees or shrubs, such as limb breakage, properly prune the damaged area as weather allows. Do not prune a limb that is not broken, as the limbs should return to normal once the weather conditions change.
Gently Brush off Snow
Rather than shaking the branches, you can help prevent snow and ice damage to your trees and shrubs by removing snow from limbs with a soft broom. Gently lift branches upward with the broom and shake the snow off, starting near the top of the tree or shrub. If snow has frozen on the branches, it is better to wait until temperatures rise above freezing.
Be Careful When Shoveling or Blowing Snow
Snow deposited by shoveling or blowing is denser than natural snowfall and tends to stick together. As it settles, it can cause damage to the branches of your trees and shrubs. Direct your shoveled or blown snow away from landscape plants as much as possible. Snow or ice sliding off your roof presents the same problem. If you have a history of ice or snow sliding off your roof, you can help protect them with a triangular wooden frame.
Be Mindful of Salt Damage
Salt can leach into your landscape’s soil, creating more significant and longer-lasting problems. Again, this is another reason to keep shoveled and blown the snow away from your landscape plants. If you must use an ice and snow melting agent, choose one of the more environmentally safe ones like calcium chloride or magnesium chloride. Avoid sodium chloride.
Take Safety Precautions
It’s a good idea to avoid parking your vehicles or walking under branches weighed down by snow or ice. If you notice broken branches caught in power lines, notify your utility company as soon as possible.
Scientific Plant Service Is Your Go-To Source In Landscape Healthcare
Scientific Plant Service, located in Baltimore, is a privately owned corporation, chartered in Maryland in 1957 by Frank J. Burke. We started as a full-service Arborists specializing in the care of shade trees and ornamental shrubs, but today we are a Lawn Care company that is a huge part of the community. From aquatic environments and snow management to deer and mole control, SPS has services tailored specifically for your lawn and landscape.
We offer services in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia, including: Harford, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Howard, Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Prince Georges, Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Calvert counties in MD, as well as Loudoun County, Fairfax County, Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church in VA. For more information, contact us online, or call us at 410-321-0970. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest!