Winter storms can be destructive, especially for trees. Broken tree branches are a common result. Unlike a person, when a tree is injured or damaged, it cannot heal its wounds. Instead trees react to injury by sealing off damaged areas. When a tree is wounded, whether by breakage in a storm or insect activity, it creates boundaries around the wound in order to stop the spread of disease and decay, and then continues to grow.
After an ice storm, do nothing at all! The brittle coat formed by ice acts as both a load and a support. Let nature take its course.
Assess Trees to Minimize Damage after a Storm
To minimize the damage that can be caused by heavy snow left on trees and shrubs, assess your property after heavy winter storms. Shrubs that are completely buried should be left alone. The same is true for leafless deciduous trees and most needle-leafed pines. If a tree is badly bowed down (usually occurs with small trees), gently shake the trunk to dislodge the snowy burden. Bounce lower branches from underneath to relieve the most heavily stressed areas. Dense evergreens and shrubs are often deformed by heavy snow. Using the bristle end of a broom, gently bounce the middle of the branches from underneath.