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Snow Takes A Toll on Trees



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Trees in Utah are accustomed to snow. Snow causes no real problems when they are prepared. Conifer trees such as pines and spruces have a narrow, pyramidal shape, and relatively short, flexible branches that prevent much damage from the snow. Evergreens most likely to be damaged by snow loads include arborvitae and some upright junipers. Arborvitae are particularly sensitive because their long upright limbs are easily pulled out of shape when snow or ice collects on them. The most common way to deal with this problem is to wrap the trees with a burlap or other type of tree wrap to prevent the snow from pulling the plants out of shape. Deciduous trees can normally withstand the snow load providing they first shed their leaves. The most common problem is a severe breakdown of the tree limbs. Heavy, wet snow can weigh several pounds per cubic foot and when this collects out on the ends of the branches the resulting leverage causes severe damage. This damage can be greatly reduced by properly training the trees with a strong healthy branch system. This training process involved removing weakened branches or potential defects when they are small and before they become a problem. While correct training is obviously the best solution, that doesn't help damaged trees. When trees are damaged, try to mitigate the damage as soon as possible. Prompt and careful limb removal is often the best solution. Pruning large trees can be difficult and dangerous work. Never climb into trees with chain saws nor try to operate such saws from the top of ladders. Leave damage to large trees to professional tree care workers with the proper equipment and training. Never attempt any pruning where trees interfere with power lines. Such problems should be referred immediately to your local utility. Each year people are killed while trying to prune power lines. Even when personal injury does not result, there is often serious financial loss when amateur pruners drop limbs onto the wires. These wires must then be repaired or replace often at considerable expense. You as the pruner are liable for such damages. Larry A. Sagers Regional Horticulturist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office

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