Ice Storm Damage to Trees

The ice storm’s effects on the urban canopy will last for years as arborist crews face increased care for tens of thousands of damaged trees.

Injuries suffered by trees during the ice storm will increase pruning requirements and leave visible scars on the natural landscape that will outlast any other effects of the storm.

Canopies are lost when thick, heavy layers of ice drag down branches and limbs. A tree that’s been damaged by the storm will need more maintenance going forward than a tree that hasn’t. Arborists are already very busy trying to keep up with the basic needs, now all of a sudden they’re going to be set back by possibly years with the need for new pruning.

Ice storms are a natural phenomenon; being proactive can protect your trees before the event happens.

Assess

Inspect your trees for structural issues such as broken branches. Damaged branches should be pruned carefully. When dealing with mature trees, pruning should be done by a certified arborist. If your tree has been in the ground for at least three years, you can begin structural pruning. Make sure there are no competing central leaders or included bark. Some branches may need to be subordinated to help other more important branches grow stronger.

Protect

During or immediately after a winter storm, use a broom to remove heavy snow or ice that can weigh down evergreen branches. Install deer damage protection, such as mesh fencing or tall tree guards, when appropriate.

Care

Water your trees once or twice a month if temperatures stay above 40 degrees. Evergreens are especially vulnerable to drying out in winter. Once the ground has frozen, however, do not water.

Appreciate

Trees reveal their structure in winter, so use this time to get an up-close look at the differences in bark, branches and buds of deciduous trees whose leaves have fallen (and even snap some beautiful photos). Also, observe the variety of cones and needles produced by conifers such as cedars, pines, spruces and junipers.

While in the winter, falling limbs can be responsible for numerous power outages, remember that in other types of extreme weather, trees are the good guys as they stand guard against heavy rains that can cause floods. When storm water hits a tree’s canopy, it slows down and is absorbed by the foliage. The water gently reaches the earth to be absorbed by the porous soil created by holding roots. When large storms strike suddenly, they can twist the canopy, overpowering the trees ability to dampen or spread (disparate) the forces over the entire structure of the tree.

This spring would be the perfect time to plant a tree.

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