5 steps to help trees survive winter with minimum damage

Updated Feb 15, 2024
Heavy winter snow can be too much of a burden for trees unless they’re cared for properly.Heavy winter snow can be too much of a burden for trees unless they’re cared for properly.

With five simple steps, your clients’ trees will stand sturdy in the heaviest of winter storms.

Just like your sturdy snow boots keep you safe and warm throughout winter, your customers’ trees need the same treatment. As you may have guessed, you won’t find snow boots in their size.

Instead, there’s a better way to keep trees safe and strong this winter. A bit of preparation now keeps your clients’ trees shapely and healthy while helping you avoid damage from fallen tree limbs.

Below are the “five to survive” steps for winter tree safety:  

1. Brace trees to keep them strong

Before winter, reinforce the structure and integrity of the trees.  Most importantly, check trees that loom over a customer’s car or home since those could do the most damage.

Have a local arborist examine the trees for weak limbs and fortify them with cables. Cabling helps trees better withstand high winds, ice and snow, so they’re less likely to break.

2. Prune to minimize fallen limbs

Wondering when to prune trees? After tree leaves have fallen, it’s the best time to prune.

A certified arborist can best see how each limb would handle snow or ice while also removing dead, diseased or damaged branches. Tree trimming before winter storms significantly reduces fallen tree debris.

3. Inspect after storms to prevent damage   

When you see ice or snow pile on tree branches, your first instinct is to free them of that weight. But wait!

Don’t shake ice or snow off tree branches. Doing so can cause branches to break or damage the tree’s circulatory system. The only exception is if the snow is light and fluffy.

Plus, tree pruning already removed the most vulnerable branches. The remaining branches will soon bounce back to their natural form.  If you do see any broken branches, trim them.

4. Provide nutrition to sustain trees              

Trees are going into their dormant stage, which is just like animals’ hibernation.

To survive, they need to stock up on food and water. Before the ground freezes, feed trees with fertilizer, then water. Blanket trees with mulch to help roots stay warm and retain more moisture as well.

5. Prepare now to avoid common winter problems  

Save your customers’ trees stress with preparation. Have an arborist inspect for destructive insects.

Then, rinse trees of harmful winter salt, which soaks up water from tree roots.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Written by the Tree Doctor for The Davey Tree Expert Company.

The Attachments Idea Book
Landscapers use a variety of attachments for doing everything from snow removal to jobsite cleanup, and regardless of how often they are used, every landscaper has a favorite attachment.
Attachments Idea Book Cover