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ice on tree branches

How Winter Weather Affects Your Trees

Even if we have a winter with little snow accumulation, damage caused by rapid fluctuation in temperatures and high winds can cause serious problems for your trees and shrubs. Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t see the early signs of these hidden dangers, and that can result in catastrophic issues later on. There are some warnings you can see ahead of time, while others require the trained eye of an ISA Certified Arborist.

Why Winter Can Be Particularly Hard on Your Trees and Shrubs

Wild fluctuations in temperatures in wintertime can put your trees and shrubs under major stress. In the Philly area, we tend to see spring-like days followed abruptly by deep drops in temperature, followed by a quick thaw out, and then hail and icy conditions. Rapid temperature changes lead to root system problems, cracks, and compromised limbs. That is a huge red flag in the tree industry!

Look for Signs of Distress in your Trees and Shrubs

Even if your trees and shrubs didn’t fall in storms this winter, they still may have been negatively affected. There are some warning signs homeowners can look for:

  • Cracked limbs
  • Cracks in the trunks of your trees
  • Lots of potential deadwood
  • Branches not blooming

An ISA Certified Arborist can Spot the “Hidden Dangers”

Oftentimes after a storm, homeowners will breathe a sigh of relief if none of their trees or shrubs fell. That false sense of security can leave trees unchecked, so it’s vital to have an ISA Certified Arborist do a full post-winter inspection. Your Giroud Arborist can check for signs of hidden dangers that you may not be able to see.

  • Tree root systems may have been compromised – Soaking rain and heavy, wet snow can loosen tree root systems, while winter winds pull on the roots. This damage may not become evident until much later when the tree uproots, often damaging property and posing a safety risk to anyone in its way
  • Cracks may have formed in the trunk – Cold winds and dips in temperature can fill existing cracks in a tree trunk with frost and cause the crack to expand. Check out this Kwansan Cherry Tree in Furlong, PA that ISA Certified Giroud Arborist Rob Poley treated for a large split right down the whole length of the trunk!
  • Weak limbs may now be supporting too much weight – Heavy rain and snow resting on your tree’s branches can really put too much pressure on them. As the weather continues to stay cold, that rain and snow turns to ice. As the weather warms a bit, that snow can become wet and heavy before finally melting, forcing each branch to support an incredible amount of extra weight. If it becomes too much for your tree to handle, the branches will start to crack and break off of your tree, damaging anything in its path. Oftentimes branches don’t fall right away, and the cracks may cause the heavy limbs to fall when you least expect it!

What can be Done to Fix the Damage

Your Giroud Arborist will assess each tree and shrub and determine the best course of action to combat the damage done by this wild winter weather.

  • Tree Root Systems can be fertilized to strengthen the roots and make them better able to withstand soaking rains, heavy snow and high winds.
  • Cracked Trees can be bolted or cabled to ease the pressure from heavy limbs and leaders.
  • Branches can be pruned to prevent property damage and injury to people below from falling deadwood. Pruning also promotes healthy growth going forward.

Being Proactive is the Best Course of Action

The only way to know for sure that your trees and shrubs are healthy and safe is to have them closely inspected by an ISA Certified Arborist. Giroud Tree and Lawn offers FREE inspections all year long. Your Giroud Arborist can help remedy all the lingering effects of winter and ensure your property is safe all year long!


Author: Jeanne Hafner

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