If you can get outside and enjoy the sight of fresh snow falling on evergreen trees, we are sure you’ll enjoy the scene. With the amount of snow fall we have experienced in the last few days, you may be wondering if those gorgeous trees in your back yard can be damaged from the weight on their branches. Trees are surprisingly resilient to weather patterns (unless they are non-local species) and as they grow naturally in forest settings, there’s safety in numbers. Taller, mature trees protect the seedlings on the forest floor by sheltering them from heavy snow load, and heavy winds that often accompany winter storms. It’s a different story though, for the trees we plant in urban settings, from spacing, to the species we choose to plant. We also plant trees to produce food crops like nuts and fruit, and love our flowering deciduous trees and shrubs, so how to we protect these more delicate varieties?
The best way to protect trees and flowering shrubs from snow load is proper pruning and a great maintenance program to keep them as healthy as possible. Strong trees enter the winter season far better prepared than trees that have been neglected. After pruning and general care (such as fertilization and insect control), wrapping your tree may be the answer if you’ve planted a cold sensitive variety, and wraps can strengthen the branch. If you choose to wrap your tree, you’ll need to remove this artificial layer before spring temperatures rise, as fungal problems can develop. If you’re growing for an unusual shape, such as building an arbor, or experimenting with topiary (so much fun!), then a sturdy support system keeps thin branches safe from breaking until they grow strong enough to support themselves. Of course, if branches do end up breaking from snow or ice buildup, prune them off while temperatures remain below zero to prevent further damage or insect invasions that may happen with rising temperatures in spring.
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