January 29


When Winter Wreaks Havoc On Your Trees

By Noel D.

January 29, 2019

seasonal, snow, winter, winter tree care

If you have trees in your yard, it can sometimes seem like Mother Nature has a personal vendetta against them – she is always playing a game where she throws something at them: infestations, sunscalding, precipitation, heavy winds, and snow. Trees are made to withstand many of these elements, but with the ever-changing weather patterns and a seemingly more harrowing climate, trees need to stand up to a lot more than they had to before now.

Winter storms that have snow and ice can do quite a bit of damage. They can bring down entire trees or heavy branches, up root systems, and even cause problems that you won’t notice for a few months. With all of the harsh weather you have to ask yourself this question: what should I do when winter wreaks havoc on my trees?

Here are some of our suggestions:

1. Think About Your Safety First

tree covered in snow
Credit: Shepard4711
  • Your safety (and the safety of those around you first)
  • Don’t go out in the weather if you don’t have to
  • Use your eyes to examine

If a tree or branch falls, the first thing many people want to do is run out into the yard and start handling the tree right away. Do not do this. A fallen tree can be dangerous, particularly if it has brought power lines down with it. Live wires could electrocute you. Instead, you want to use your eyes and survey the damage from a healthy distance. Just because you haven’t lost power doesn’t mean that there aren’t wires, according to WTTG.

You also don’t want to enter any structures that the tree may have fallen on top of – they could collapse at any time. Try examining from inside your home or at least at a safe distance. Handle anything important first (i.e. contacting the electric company or your local township about a tree blocking the road) and then wait for the storm to end.

2. Know What Questions To Ask

Credit: Phil Denton
  • Know the answers before contacting someone
  • You need to know all of the facts before you take action
  • Use this as your plan

If you do have a tree fall in your yard, the first thing you need to ask is this: is anyone hurt? If someone is hurt, take care of that situation first by getting medical treatment or at least getting that person to safety. Then, you want to look for situations where someone could get hurt. This means looking for downed power lines, structures that were damaged, or other trees that are at risk. These can, at any time, turn into a potentially life threatening situation, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Then, you want to look for property damage on your property and on your neighbors. You want to take pictures as quickly as possible if there are problems. When you have these questions answered, you will then be able to move onto the next step.

3. Address Dangers and Emergencies Systematically

frosted trees
Credit: Kaarina Dillabough
  • Start with emergency services for people
  • Then call township companies to handle problems
  • Finally, call neighbors

Once you have all of the information, you can move onto contacting local authorities. Call 911 if someone was crushed or injured by the tree. Then, you can start to call the township or power companies to remove the problem, handle power outages, or prevent any more damage. It needs to be said: do not handle these situations yourself.

You also want to call neighbors if your tree falls on their property. You want to give them the chance to take their own photos and handle anything that might be able to see from their vantage point. This will also let them know that you are handling the situation. Sometimes, they will even offer to help you when the storm is over.

According to AgriLife, “When a tree is severely damaged, the first question that must be answered is: “Is the condition of the tree such to make keeping it worthwhile?”” Your neighbor may be able to help you make that estimation.

4. Handle the Tree or Shrubs

Credit: Enrico Strocchi
  • The tree needs to be handled
  • Wait until the weather stops
  • Do not do anything while ice is on the tree

Once all of the humans and hazards are addressed, you need to look at your tree itself. What happens to your tree depends on where it is, how much broke off, and whether it will be safe moving forward. The general rule is that you want to clean up any problems. However, this isn’t the case if they are still covered in ice: you want to wait until they melt.

According to HGTV, “Heavy snow loads may break branches, or even bend flexible branches and flexible trunks out of shape. Knock snow off as soon as is practical to minimize the amount of time the branches stay in an unnatural position as well as the possible long term effects.” To do this, you want to use your hands or a soft broom to remove the snow.

If you are able to safely get outside during the snowstorm, you can also remove the snow then. However, once again, you want to remember that your safety is important.

The most important thing that you can do is stay calm. If it was a beloved tree or there was damage to your family, pets, or property, it is natural for you to be upset. While it is understandable, you may need to take action right away. Acting calmly and rationally will help to better the situation.

If you are worried about your trees or you see something that just doesn’t look right, make sure to give Arbortec Tree Service a call at (303) 466-3175. While you can certainly watch over your trees and love them, there is nothing that beats the practiced hand of professionals.

Header photo courtesy of Henry Richter on Flickr!

About the author

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Contact Us for a Free Estimate