Brrr … it’s cold out! If you’re feeling the cold weather, so are your trees. We can go inside when it’s rainy, snowing, or cold out, but our trees cannot. They stand outside, through the storms and, unfortunately, through the freezing as well. This can lead to ice forming on your trees, as leftover rain or snow from a storm can freeze when the temperatures drop to below freezing levels.
It’s important to protect your trees in advance from becoming icy trees. You don’t want the branches to fully freeze, or they could become damaged or too heavy and snap off. Ice does damage to trees. The constant cold of it can also kill the tree and create problems in the surrounding areas.
Of course, some of this is impossible to combat—ice will always form on trees. But there are some things you can do to limit the destruction that the ice can cause. Here are some things you can do about ice on your trees.
Make Sure Your Tree Is Pruned
Regularly pruning your trees is so important for a wide array of reasons. But one reason that you may not know off is that, by having your tree pruned, you’re helping protect your tree against ice. By pruning your tree, you’re ensuring there are no weak or overly long branches. These are the types of branches that are most susceptible to breaking off and doing damage to the tree if ice is present.
Plus, by having this regular maintenance on your tree, you ensure the health of your tree, and healthier trees will stand stronger against ice than less-healthy trees.
Don’t Shake the Branches Once It Becomes an Icy Tree
When a tree is covered in snow and ice, it could be extremely tempting to simply shake it off the tree. But this can do more harm to your tree than good. The only time this is okay to do is if you’re completely sure that the only snow on the tree is fluffy and dry, and you know there’s no ice or frozen snow present. So if you’re going to shake your tree, it’s important to do it before anything freezes, as it will prevent the water and/or snow from becoming ice.
Trees are flexible, which means that if you give the tree that sudden inertia of a shake while it is covered with snow, the branches may snap back a bit too far or a bit too hard. This can actually damage the circulatory system of the tree.
If you do really need to remove the ice from the tree, it is better to gently tap the underside of branches, rather than shake. This will prevent you from accidentally adding additional stress to the branches, which will cause damage.
Let Nature Take Over
Depending on the type of tree you have, your tree may know what to do to combat the snow and ice. For instance, a major danger of freezing trees is that their cells will fill with water, and then when that water freezes, the cells will expand to the point of rupturing. But in most conifer trees, water flows out of their cells and into the spaces in-between the cells. Trees that have horizontal branches tend to follow this trend and are less likely to have snow or ice damage for this reason. In cases like these, you can let nature take over and run its course, and you likely won’t have any damage to your tree.
Tie the Branches Together
Whereas trees with horizontal branches fair somewhat well in the ice and snow, trees that have upright and narrow branches can be seriously harmed in the winter. One way to protect against this is to tie the stems of these trees and shrubs together. This will help give them a stronger resistance to the ice. Two is stronger than one, right? Be sure to take note of any branches that look weaker. However, only do this step if it’s still necessary after having your tree properly pruned.
Regularly pruning your tree is the best way to prevent your tree from becoming covered in ice during the winter. That’s the main way to ensure that your tree is healthy and doesn’t have any weak branches that will easily break off during a storm. Not only will this impact the health of your tree, but it could also cause even bigger problems if the ice-frozen branch from your tree were to fall on a power line, your home, or worse, a passerby.
If your tree wasn’t properly pruned and has decay or other damage, there’s no real coming back from an icy tree. The damage is done, and an arborist should be called to come in and assess this damage to see if tree removal needs to happen. In cases like this, keep a special eye on the ice during storms and give an arborist a call if you’re concerned that a large branch looks like it will fall. In most cases, and especially for smaller branches, the main thing you can do in situations like this is to wait for the ice to melt and then remove what needs to be removed.
Keeping your trees at their healthiest is important to how they look, but also to how they’ll survive winter. Ice on trees may look beautiful, but it can be dangerous if the trees aren’t healthy. The above are some actions you can take to help prevent damage as much as you can. The most important thing to continue with is the pruning of your trees during the other seasons and even before a storm is set to hit. By having a properly pruned tree, you’re limiting damage, both to your tree and to the surrounding area. If you’re concerned that your tree hasn’t been pruned in a while and a storm is coming, give an arborist, such as Mr. Tree, a call today. We’re happy to come out to take a look and prune your tree.