How to Care for Trees Damaged by Winter Snow and Ice

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trees in Northeast Ohio damaged by snow and ice


Heavy snow and ice during the winter months can be particularly devastating to trees and other landscaping around your home. Broken branches, trees that have split apart, leaning trees, and even fallen trees happen every winter. While you, unfortunately, cannot control the weather in Northeast Ohio, you can take action to help your trees recover in spring.

Here are some tips for surveying the damage to your trees and beginning the post-winter clean-up:

Check for obvious danger

From a safe distance, check for any broken tree limbs extending over your home, driveway, or nearby power lines. These safety hazards should be addressed immediately by a professional tree service.

Look for signs of salt burn

If your trees are located near a road, they may have been exposed to salt runoff sprayed from passing cars. Trees are not equipped with the defense mechanisms necessary to protect themselves from the detrimental effects of the salt, causing them to brown.

Assess the condition of your trees

Evaluate your tree for overall health in addition to any storm damage. Many of the fast-growing trees that Northeast Ohio homeowners plant for shade, such as elms, silver maples, birches, and willows, have brittle wood that is especially susceptible to breaking. Weak crotch unions can easily split under the added weight of snow and ice.

Often the trees that suffer severe damage have considerable rot and decay that may not be apparently evident to a homeowner. That’s where a regular tree inspection by a certified arborist can make a world of difference – it’s easier and less expensive to proactively treat a tree before damage occurs than it is to “fix” or remove it later.

Be realistic about repairs you can do yourself

Some damage to your trees is not visible or obvious from the ground. Harsh winter conditions can cause limbs high in the treetops to split or break, which will create a hazard during any future strong wind storms.

Do not be tempted to climb a ladder while operating a chainsaw or other equipment. It can be extremely dangerous to try to address this damage without the help of a professional arborist.

Ask, “To save or not to save?”

It’s not always easy to determine whether the condition of the tree warrants efforts to save it or if it should be removed. If you’re not sure, give us a call. We always prefer to save a tree if that’s a realistic option, but we’ll give you an honest assessment and recommendation so you can make the final decision based on accurate and complete information.

Generally, it only makes sense to attempt tree repair if a major portion of the tree is still intact. If the whole side or top is gone, it’s questionable whether it is worth spending the time and money to salvage the tree. While removing a large, mature tree is not desirable, the smart choice may be to replace it with a new tree.

Remember that Independent Tree is here to help you with each step of post-winter tree recovery. Give us a call today at 440-564-1374 or email us at


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