While most trees and shrubs in Alberta are well adapted to winter conditions, having a sudden heavy/wet snowfall when trees are just starting their growing season can be devastating. Most spruces, pines, and fir have flexible branches and shed snow relatively easily, but coniferous trees often have their tops broken by heavy snow. Trees with a narrow vertical crown, like Swedish poplar, junipers, and many shrubs, and with narrow upright branching, are highly susceptible to damage from wet snow.
What Can Be Done
You can very gently remove snow from them with a broom or a small pole. Don’t shake the tree or shrub as branches can easily break. If snow or ice is frozen to a branch, don’t do anything until it thaws or melts off. If there is no significant damage and the tree is still holding, let the snow melt naturally – leave the tree alone. If trees and shrubs are damaged, pruning is the only option. There are several considerations to keep in mind when pruning:
Safety – inspect your tree for any power line contact. Look around trees and carefully inspect them from a safe distance. Stay away from the trees and call the power company to deal with them.
- If you have heavy broken branches or large trees, call a certified arborist to deal with them. Broken and/or hanging heavy branches can fall in a slight wind or cold and you can be easily injured.
- Do not try to use a ladder to remove snow or broken branches. Conditions may be very slippery and you can be easily injured.
- Do a proper pruning that includes three-way cuts of larger branches to remove the heavy weight of the branch.
- Small branches less than two inches in diameter can be removed with one cut.
- Putting wound paint or dressing on the cut has no effect.
- Do not leave any stubs when pruning.
- Make cuts with sharp tools.
Overall our trees and shrubs are adapted to snowy conditions, and in the few instances where we get heavy wet snow or ice you may not need to do anything expect monitor the situation.
How Can We Help?
Our professional and experienced Tree Expert and ISA Certified Arborist offers a full range of consulting and advisory services to help you keep your trees healthy. We offer Six Points Tree Pest Evaluation to identify and manage your pest issues.