As heavy snow blankets the Northwest we are reminded that our area does not see severe snow storms on a yearly basis. Trees and shrubs that are well adapted to heavy rains and winds may not be as well prepared for extreme snow weight. As such we have seen a great deal of snapped tree branches as a result of very heavy snow fall overnight. In the evening as weather freezes again there is a significant chance that the frozen water weight will once again cause damage to particular trees and shrubs.
There are a few things that can be done to help mitigate potential further damage. Shrubs and trees can be assessed to see if there are any cracks forming along the main branches or trunks. If so shaking the branches or limbs can help physically remove some of the weight reducing stress on those plants. A perfect example of this is beautiful bamboo plants that can bend over to the ground from snow weight. If allowed to stay frozen to the ground or weighted under the snow for too long stems can snap or be damaged. A good method to keep your bamboo protected is to take each cane in your hand and shake repeatedly to remove as much snow as possible. Bamboo will appreciate this greatly and most canes will snap back into normal position.
Large trees may be more difficult to remove snow weight but can be routinely monitored and thinned on a yearly basis to help reduce how much snow will pile up on certain branches. Trees that have not been pruned in many years can often have branch structures that will not support snow weight well. If branches or trunks have cracks forming or have started to split out these branches can be removed or reduced to significant side branches to help prevent damage and improve overall safety.
As always we hope these monthly blog articles are helpful and provide practical advice and tips for your landscape. We appreciate your feedback and feel free to request an article topic for future editions.
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