Repairing Winter Damage to Trees and Shrubs

Winter weather can be harsh on trees, shrubs and other plants. Ice, snow and wind can burden branches and harm delicate leaves left from fall. Sometimes, damage is too severe for a plant to survive. It's important to know when you should repair damage and when it's time to remove a tree or shrub. Here's how to take care of winter-damaged plants:

  • Prevention - Remove ice when it forms on branches by spraying it with hot water. This can relieve pressure from the plant, making it less likely to break from the added weight. You may want to consider covering vulnerable shrubs with a tarp before major storms hit.
  • Remove damage - Cut off any damaged branches, leaves or other parts of the plant.
  • Pruning - Prune around the plant to revive the shape. Removing dead leaves can help conserve nutrients for the live ones.
  • Professional help - If you're not sure if the plant should be removed, call a professional arborist. For large trees, or instances when removal could be dangerous, call a professional.
  • Wait - If you're not sure if a plant should be removed, cut the damaged parts away and wait a while. If the plant doesn't do well, you can remove it later.