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Snow Damage
by Diana Roberts
Category: Trees
There are times when winter hits hard and fast, which is something that local areas have experienced in the last few days. Three feet of snow in 24 hours is very hard on trees and shrubs! Many people look at what were once beautiful grand trees and see only destruction. Years of landscaping and care down the drain in one fell swoop! You may be wondering what can be done to save what is left.
Each type of shrub or tree has to be handled differently. If you have pyramid cedars that were not tied together before the snow came, you may be looking at branches being pulled away from the main shrub and possibly even broken. If you can get at the shrub, it is a good idea to shake any remaining snow off the cedar and cut back any broken branches. Once this is done, itís a good idea to wrap the branches with small rope to keep them close to the center of the shrub. If the whole shrub has collapsed, there may not be anything you will be able to do with it until spring.
If you are dealing with willow trees which have broken branches, you are in more luck as far as bringing them back to health and good looks. The willow can be cut back to the trunk and will rejuvenate itself in the years to come. You may want to cut out any broken branches to lessen any more damage which could occur if left unaided. If your entire tree is split down the middle, chances are you will have to cut the tree completely down and start over. A tree split down the center of the trunk will never have the strength it once had, so it is better to replace it.
Fruit trees
Any ornamental or fruit trees should be checked over for damage from the weight of the snow, then prune any broken branches. Excess snow should be removed or shook off the tree if possible, just be careful that you do not do any more damage as you are doing this. These trees will be fairly brittle, so care should be taken when doing anything with them. If the trunks are split completely down the center, there is no use in keeping the tree. It will be weak and half of a tree could break in any wind or snow storm. When they are this badly damaged, It is best to take the trees down . I am not a firm believer in wound paint for trees, but when damage happens in the beginning or middle of winter, then it is a good idea to paint any large wounds as they will not heal themselves in the cold weather.
I planted three two-year old Virginia Shubert this summer and was fairly surprised to look out my window during the snow storm to see them all bent in half and touching what I am sure was the ground under all that snow. I really hadnít thought that such a thin sapling would be pushed down by the snow. Three times we went out to carefully shake the snow off the tiny branches and allow the tree to stand upright once again.
The last time we rescued them, we packed the snow along the trunk to give it a little more strength to stand upright. I had considered putting a pole next to it for support, but there didnít seem to be any more problems as the snow piled up around the trunk. The great thing about young trees is that they are very flexible and can withstand being bent over double. So I am sure my young trees are still healthy and safe for now.
If your hedge has collapsed from the weight of heavy snow, it is normally not a huge concern. Most deciduous or cedar hedges can be cut way back and left to re-grow. My cotoneaster hedge which was six feet tall is now about two feet tall with 3 feet of snow on top of it! In the spring, my hedge trimmers will come out and get rid of what I know will be a mass of broken branches. Chances are it will also take a pair of loppers to get rid of the bigger branches. I am not worried though, because maybe it is time for a haircut!
Of course we may be in for a lot more snow if this is a sign of things to come, so my suggestion to you is keep an eye on your shrubs and trees and get rid of any heavy snow very carefully. As for any evergreen shrubs, maybe wrap the ones you can or shake the snow off before it gets too heavy.

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