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Trees After A Winter Storm

What To Do With Your Trees After A Winter Storm

Winter storms in Rochester, New York can bring with them wet, heavy snowfall and intense ice accumulation that can cause trees and shrubs to break or even topple. Your response immediately following the storm as well as after it melts away will have a major impact on their ability to survive and thrive in the future. If you are unsure how best to proceed with winter storm-damaged trees, be sure to consult an expert for advice so they may remain healthy and vibrant!

In this article, we assist you in understanding how to minimize tree damage after a snowstorm or icy weather. Uncover the following:

  • Steps to prevent ice and snow damage on your trees -Assessment of safety issues and tree harm after a winter storm
  • The probability of recovery for damaged trees
  • What NOT to do when dealing with broken trees
  • Things that will (and should) be done to help recover storm harmed forests
  • Types of trees that need extra protection during harsh climates
  • Why being patient is key post snowy incident

Protect Your Trees From Ice & Snow Damage!

Every year, Rochester greets winter with open arms – and lots of hats, gloves, boots, and shovels! Our trees naturally prepare for the chilly months by entering dormancy. However, there are a few steps we can take to ensure that their defenses are as strong as ours this season. Before Jack Frost settles in for too long, make sure your trees have everything they need to survive until spring arrives!

As winter approaches, it is important to evaluate the condition of your trees; especially large ones. Check for any broken, dead or unbalanced branches that could worsen with heavy snow and ice accumulation as well severe winds. Make sure no tree has grown into power lines as electrical outages would be even more challenging during this season. Lastly, prune any branch close to sidewalks and roads so that they don’t cause hindrance to pedestrians and drivers when weighed down by the accumulating snow and ice.

Don’t forget to prune your trees before winter comes! While our crew works year-round, we won’t work in dangerous weather conditions. Furthermore, if you call us during or after a storm for emergency tree care services, there is a chance that we are already booked with prior appointments.

Here’s an expert tip: if you spot any tree growth or damage that could be hazardous down the line, it’s important to prune them proactively. This is beneficial because instead of having to trim off damaged branches after they occur, preemptive pruning allows your trees remains in their natural shape and structure. We all know how bad haircuts can look – imagine a tree with one! Prune beforehand for optimal results!

After A Blanket Of Snow Or An Icy Glaze

After a winter storm, stepping outside can be an absolute delight–the mystical feeling of being encompassed by the world blanketed in snow is unparalleled. But when it has been particularly severe and there is an excess accumulation of ice and snow, you should take pause before continuing forward. Evaluating your surroundings for potential hazards will help ensure that you have a safe journey ahead.

Safety First

To make sure your property is safe, inspect for fallen tree branches or trees blocking off driveways and public rights-of-way. If the mess is on private land, call a certified arborist to help clean it up – with storm damage this severe all around you, be ready to leave voicemails as these companies will prioritize life-threatening situations first before addressing more serious ones (that involve trees falling through roofs) followed by cases without any safety issues or personal damages. For assistance regarding downed trees and branches across sidewalks/roads, contact your municipality’s Public Works department or non-life threatening emergency number immediately.

If you spot any destruction or potential damage to utility lines caused by tree branches, contact your local utility company right away.

Analyze The Damage

Carefully scrutinize all of the trees on your land. While some signs of damage may appear visible, others might not be as noticeable; if you’re still unsure, bring in a tree care expert to conduct an exhaustive evaluation.

After a winter storm, there are several common indicators of tree damage that you should keep an eye out for. These include broken and hanging branches, torn bark or damaged cabling caused by the weight of snow and/or ice, trees that have split apart or leaned due to the stress from high winds, as well as missing leaders (the main upward branch) or cracked branches (which may not be obvious). All these signs can lead to major structural issues down the road if left unchecked- so it’s important to inspect your trees for any potential damages!

Can the tree make a full recovery?

Despite the obvious damage, many tree species are quite resilient. With adequate care and attention, a healthy tree can usually recover from any seemingly irreparable harm.

If your tree was healthy prior to the storm and still retains its leader, major limbs, and more than half of its branches–then it stands a great chance of fully recovering.

If a tree has lost its leader or more than half of its branches, especially the major scaffold ones, it should be removed immediately as there is little to no chance that this type of damage can be reversed. Hollowing out and topping off will also not make any difference in saving the tree—it’s best to prune it away altogether.

Here’s What to Avoid Post-Snowstorm for a Safe and Stress-Free Winter.

Stay away from any trees that are in contact with power lines, and don’t try to take it down by yourself. Ice is perilous! Electrical currents travel through it, people of all ages and conditions can slip on the ice, and only experienced experts should use powered tools during icy weather.

Whether you’re wearing a hard hat or not, do NOT linger beneath the overbearing weight of snow and ice-coated tree limbs– there have been numerous trips to the ER due to misjudging risk. Allow nature take its course and watch from far away instead. Shaking branches with hopes for melting off the excess snow is dangerous – falling snow or especially large chunks of frozen precipitation can be much more hefty than expected! Exercise caution when near these trees during winter weather conditions.

When the temperature begins to drop, resist the temptation of using a hose on snow-covered branches and sidewalks. A bright wintery day can transform into an icy night in the blink of an eye! So instead of creating more slippery surfaces, it is best to take cautionary measures against them.

What Can You  Do

To safely remove ice and snow from small trees and shrubs, use a broom to carefully brush away the accumulation. If it stubbornly refuses to come off, leave it be–branches become brittle in cold winter temperatures so never whack them with anything! Additionally, make sure you sweep or shovel snow off sidewalks leading up to your door for safe passage. As an added bonus, clearing out fallen branches helps too!

Trees More Likely To Sustain Snow Damage

Winter storms can be damaging for certain trees, yet this susceptibility is not the fault of these plants – it’s their natural growth patterns.

During times of heavy winter snow and ice, certain trees are more susceptible to damage. These include:

  • With their sturdy, dense crowns that catch and keep snowfall, evergreens face a unique set of issues during winter weather. Depending on the size and strength of the tree’s branches, they may bend to bear its heavy load – but oftentimes break under extreme conditions. Trees at risk for such hazardous buildups include arborvitae, yews, junipers and hollies.
  • When exposed to mighty winter storms, soft-wooded and fast-growing trees tend to suffer greater damage due to their feeble branch strength. Callery pear (Bradford pear), willow, birch, and poplar are some examples of these kinds of trees that should be monitored more closely during the colder months.
  • Multi-leader trees. Trees that feature more than one major leader or trunk are especially vulnerable to destruction from snow and ice. The branches often merge together at their base, forming a point of combined bark known as included bark. These areas of connected tree limbs represent the most probable locations for decay and branch collapse due to their susceptibility to damage.
  • Upright trees with vertical branches and densely spaced branch crotches, such as fastigiate yews and juniper cultivars, are better primed to withstand snow and ice than those with more spread-out branches.

Pruning routinely throughout the life of a tree can help form an energetic, versatile crown that is able to resist weather-related harm. And even if you’re late to prune your trees, there’s still hope – just don’t do it in autumn! Pruning at any time during a tree’s lifespan will bring about positive results.

Note: while smaller trees and shrubs can be easily secured with ropes or wrapped in burlap to keep away snow and ice, doing this for larger specimens is impractical.


Although it may feel difficult to do so, the best way of handling ice and snow in trees is simply leaving them be. The weather will help melt away the fallen precipitation with its clear skies and heightened daytime temperatures, as well as aid winds in blowing off any loose snow. If you’ve noticed a large downed tree or trees with branches broken due to winter storms, leave them alone; provided they’re not posing any danger to anyone’s safety or property, nor on public land. Before bud break during springtime comes around again however – call up an appointment for professional pruning! Storm-damaged dormant trees that are far from people and properties just need some expertise before blooming season arrives once more.

Tree Care List

Now that your holiday to-do list is being filled up, don’t forget the tree evaluation or pruning appointment! This has nothing to do with festivity but serves as a precautionary measure against winter storm damage. We specialize in caring for trees and know it’s much easier to get them ready before potential damages than attempt repairs afterwards. Your trees will reward you next spring by producing lively leaves and flowers from its healthy branches!



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