We had the opportunity today to visit several clients’ homes in the Sunset Hill, Ward Parkway, and Mission Hills areas and found extensive damage to trees and shrubs. This seems to have been caused by the very high moisture content of the snow and the fact that after it fell and “stuck” to the plants, the temperature dropped and fixed the snow onto the branches. Of course, following this initial snow, we had a dusting of light snow which collected on the already covered branches and added to the weight on plants. We also saw very heavy snow banks caused by snow sliding off of roofs onto foundation plantings. Almost all varieties of plants were affected, but yews, boxwoods, azaleas, and rhododendrons suffered the most damage. Because of the extreme weight of the snow, and taking into account a forecast that does not offer a lot of hope for thawing, we recommend removing as much of the snow on plants as possible—as carefully as feasible. Lifting snow laden branches from the bottom and raising them up to dislodge snow, and shaking evergreen limbs gently seems to work fairly well. Using a long-handled broom or rake to push up on higher limbs to dislodge branches “stuck together with snow” also helps—you will find that removing even a little weight allows branches to spring back to their normal or near normal profile.
In cases where the snow was very heavy, we were unable to lift the bottom branches of shrubs as they were literally frozen to the ground; in such cases, it is better to leave those until some melting occurs because of the high risk of breaking limbs.
On a related note, we saw a very large pine tree uproot and fall onto a drive and other trees, ostensibly because of the weight of the snow. Upon examination of the root structure of the tree, we found a very small and not very healthy root system—most likely a symptom of the extreme weather conditions of the past few years. The drought conditions and high heat we have observed over the past three to four years are taking a toll on many plants in the landscape—this heavy snow we are dealing with may be a fatal blow to some affected plants. (This is the reason we at Greenleaf have stressed deep and consistent watering to all of our clients and to homeowners around the area!)
Removing snow and ice from plants can be a little tricky (and is certainly a cold and wet process), so if you would like assistance or additional guidance, please contact your Greenleaf team. We are happy to help and only a phone call away. 816-916-5171.