Being caught in a storm can be a terrifying experience but there is not much that one can do to avoid them, and most people simply hunker down in their homes and wait for the worst of the weather to pass. Trees, however, have no option but to stand tall and weather the storm. But there are a few steps that you can take to protect your trees and help them survive an ice storm.
Preparing Your Trees to Withstand Ice Storms
Ice storms can be devastating for trees and they will expose any structural weaknesses. Dead or dying branches, as well as those with weak attachments or other defects, can easily break and be blown around your yard wreaking havoc. When it comes to protecting your trees from an ice storm, prevention is always better than cure. The best way to help your trees withstand this winter’s ice storms is to hire a tree pruning service to train and prune your trees correctly before the weather turns nasty.
An experienced arborist will remove any dead, dying or diseased branches and they will know how to correct structural defects and remove branches that have weak attachments and are likely to break off during an ice storm. Preparing your trees is not always possible if a storm is imminent and it is best to implement a proper pruning program throughout the year.
If you have any valuable small trees that you want to protect during an ice storm you can secure the trees with strips of sturdy cloth or nylon stockings two-thirds of the way above any weak crotches. This is just a temporary measure and in spring you will need to get the trees properly pruned.
There is Nothing You can do During a Storm
Unfortunately, there is not much that you can do to protect your trees during the actual storm and the hard work needs to be done before the time. During or directly after a storm, you should never try to knock any ice off your trees because you can easily break the brittle branches and send the entire ice-covered limb cascading down on your head. Do not attempt to melt the ice or snow by spraying water on the tree or because this could cause the weight of the ice to shift and break the branches.
After a Storm, There is Always Work to be Done
After an ice storm, your best bet is to let the ice melt naturally and then call in a tree pruning service that is familiar with storm restoration pruning to assess your trees and remove any broken or severely damaged branches. They will know how to prune your damaged trees so that they can recover and remain healthy. Any torn parts of the tree need to be pruned back to a branch union to reduce the threat of decay. An arborist will also inspect your tree for structural cracks and damage that may not be obvious to an untrained or inexperienced person. If any of your trees have toppled over in the storm, you should contact a tree service company that knows how to remove a tree stump as soon as possible.
Plant the Right Trees
You can’t do much to protect your trees from the brunt of a winter ice storm, but you can stormproof your garden by planting trees that are better able to withstand the snow and ice. Tree species like elms, poplars (with the exception of yellow poplars), silver maples, birches, willows, and hackberry can handle snowfalls, but they are not able to cope with the weight of the ice that coats their branches in areas that experience regular ice storms. Conifers and yellow poplars do alright with moderate ice. Trees such as black walnut, sweetgum, ginkgo, Kentucky coffee tree, white oak, and northern red oaks that are all conical in shape and have a smallish branch surface area survive best where ice storms are common.
To protect your trees from future ice storms you need to implement an annual pruning program and the best way to do this is to use a tree pruning service like Martin’s Tree Service.