Ice Damage and Trees: What You Should Know

January 15, 2020 12:32 am Published by Leave your thoughts

We’re well into winter now, and some of the coldest days of the year are still ahead of us. If you live in an area that gets freezing temperatures (and below) during the winter months, you might wonder if there’s any risk of ice and frost damaging your trees. Most people know the dangers that ice and frost can pose to smaller plants, but are trees at risk as well?

The answer is yes—there are some circumstances in which ice buildup on trees can become dangerous for the health of the tree. In some cases, ice on trees can be quite a beautiful sight, but when it becomes too heavy, the tree runs the risk of experiencing breakage.

Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to prevent ice damage to trees. Here are some quick tips for you to avoid tree damage in Newton, MA this winter.

Steps to prevent tree damage

One of the most important steps to keep your trees safe from potential ice damage is to make sure you stay on top of pruning. You should focus on removing week, narrow-angled, v-shaped crotches.

Trees that tend to be at the greatest risk for damage caused by ice tend to be multiple leader, upright evergreen species like junipers and arborvitae, as well as multiple leader or clump trees like birch trees. With these types of trees, it is important to find and prune weak-jointed branches before they pose a structural risk to the tree, particularly when the tree gets weighed down by coats of ice.

Trees that grow more slowly, like oaks, are much less likely to be at risk of losing limbs due to heavy ice. However, do not assume that older, more mature trees are safe—in fact, younger trees tend to fare better in ice storms, because they are a bit more pliable than those long-established trees.

You should also be careful to avoid shaking the branches. It’s natural to want to take immediate action when you see snow or ice buildup causing your trees to bend or droop, but we strongly recommend you avoid doing this unless you know the snow is dry and fluffy. Ice coatings on branches can make the branches brittle, so if you shake them too hard it could cause breakage or damage in the tree limbs. In addition, knocking all the weight off the tree suddenly might cause flexible branches to snap back, which could cause damage to the main circulatory elements of the tree.

Instead, if you notice breakage after an ice storm, prune the damaged area as soon as the weather allows you to do so. If limbs were bent but undamaged, do not prune them—they will eventually return to their natural position when the weather conditions change.

This is just a brief overview of some of the steps you can take to avoid tree damage in Newton, MA this winter after ice storms. Contact BBD Tree Service today for more tips and information.

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