How To Weather Trees In Spring Snow

The roller coaster of spring weather continues in Colorado. Traditionally, March is Colorado's snowiest month, and it looks like we can expect more snow before we reach April. If you are staying at home per the governor's order, you can keep an eye on your trees and shrubs to help them weather the storms.

Deep snowfalls, especially during spring, tend to be heavier and wetter than powdery winter snows. The snow load can break tree limbs, smother and crush ornamental grasses and splay upright evergreens.

Tips during the snow storm

1. Keep an eye out
Keep an eye on snow accumulating on deciduous and evergreen trees. If branches are sagging under the weight, use something long such as a broom handle to gently shake snow off the branches as high as you can reach. Start at the lowest part of the tree rather than the top. Dusting snow off the top will add even more weight onto the lower branches.

2. Leaning trees
If you have trees that are already leaning, or branches that are at a sharp "V", avoid standing or putting things under them to keep them upright. These may be signs that a tree could fall over or a branch could break under the snow load. For example, Cottonwood trees are often susceptible to breakage.

3. Shake, shake, shake
Branches of columnar, upright evergreens, can spread apart under heavy snow. Gently shake the snow ff of these evergreens to minimize damage.

Tips for after the storm

1. Inspect
Inspect trees for broken branches or "hangers" These are broken branches that seem to be hanging on by a thread. Schedule an expert to cut the branches properly. Check with your municipality for a list of licensed arborists in your area. 

For upright evergreens that have splayed, contact a garden center for material that can be wrapped around the branches to restore their upright shape. Many garden centers are currently offering curbside pickup if you call ahead.

3. Cut back
If ornamental grasses have been crushed, they won't bounce back. When the weather is warm, cut grasses back. This needs to be done in the springtime anyway before new shoots emerge.
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