How To Remove Tree Limbs With Ice On Them
Let’s not kid ourselves, this can be an extremely dangerous job. Trees, branches, and limbs that are weighed down with ice can break and fall at any time. You don’t want to be under a big one when that happens. Never try to remove a down tree or branch unless it is completely safe to do so.
The most common question that we get is, “What do I do with trees full of ice?”. This would depend on quite a few different things.
Is the limb or tree anywhere near an electrical line? If it is then you need to stay at least twenty – five – feet away from it. Call your local power company and report it regardless of how long you have to wait on the phone. You may save a life.
Decide if the tree has to be moved as soon as possible. Is it near power lines? Is it blocking your driveway, or has it fallen across the road and blocking traffic? If so, then it needs to me moved as soon as absolutely possible.
As a warning, do not try to work around limbs that are partially broken off of a tree. As stated above, these big limbs can break without any warning and fall with an extreme force. Professionals need to be the ones to handle the removal of those limbs.
Most of the time, just allowing nature to run its course is the best way to handle this. If ice is major on deciduous, wide-leaved trees then what’s done is done. Leave the tree alone until all of the ice has melted and it’s safer.
Trees that have been bent by weight of the ice, many of these will be simply fine. They will more than likely recover on their own. Do not try to knock the ice off of the tree and do not shake the tree to try to get the ice to fall from it. You can actually cause more damage to the tree in doing these things. The best thing that you can do for those trees is to leave them to recover on their own unless there is a pressing reason for you to get the ice off.
Another question that we get is, “Can I shake the ice from my shrubs and trees?”. The answer is simple. If your shrub or tree is covered in snow, then yes you can shake the snow off but remember it has to be done with extreme care so as not to harm the trees or plants.
If the snow has frozen to the plant or if there is hardened ice then this is not a process that you would want to try. When there is ice then you need to wait until the temperatures rise and just allow the ice to melt off on its own.
Shrubs and trees like pine or spruce that have horizontal branches are less likely to have ice and snow damage because of their branches being so flexible. Trees and shrubs that grow with narrow and upright branches are the ones that can be damaged extensively. Too much ice and snow can cause branches to pull apart.
The best prevention from winter storms is to make sure that you prune your trees and shrubs properly so that they will develop strong, healthy branches.
Most homeowners may mean well but they can be causing more damage than doing good by removing ice from their trees. It’s better to do nothing.
You need to remember, if it is just a thin layer of ice and the tree is healthy, you have nothing to worry about, the tree will recover and be simply fine.
If there is a lot of snow and ice, you can gently tap the branch using a broom or something like it to remove some of the ice. Just do not tap it too hard, you can break the branch. Things break a lot easier when they are frozen.
If you tap the branches from underneath them it helps to not add stress on top of them. They have enough stress and weight with the ice.
Honestly, when it’s extremely cold without snow or ice, that causes more damage to your tree. The ice and snow will at least insulate the roots of the tree some.
The other added benefit to the snow on trees is that when the snow does melt, it waters the tree.
Now if you have branches or trees that are downed completely then something may need to be done immediately.
If you have a branch or tree that has fallen and brought down electrical lines, as previously stated, do not go near them. Call nine one one, and your local electric company and report it.
These are called “hot wires” and are extremely dangerous. You should also call your local electric company if you see that there are branches or trees that are about to fall over wires. They will come out and check on it and if they think there is a problem, they will do something about it.
We’ve been told that if you see trees or large branches down across main streets like a city street that you should call the transportation department and report it.
These winter storms with their snow, sleet, freezing rain, and ice can happen at any time and sometimes unexpectedly. They can and will cause extreme damage to your landscape.
None of us can control the weather or keep these storms from happening. But there are some things that you can do to prevent some of the worst of the damage. Knowing what to do can go a long way in helping your plants and trees to recover after the storm is over.
CHECK OUT THE DANGER
If you have ice – or snow – covered trees, do not go near them until you look carefully for any signs of danger.
ANY BROKEN BRANCHES HANGING DOWN?
Sometimes you can’t tell if a branch or limb is damaged because of the snow or ice that is covering it. If you see anything that just doesn’t quite look right, make a note of it. Those branches and limbs can fall unexpectedly and it you’re standing under it, it can cause serious injury.
TREES NEAR OR ON ELECTRIC LINES
Like we have said, if there are trees on or near the lines, call your electric company. Do not even touch the tree, you can be electrocuted.
TREES BLOCKING THE DRIVEWAY OR ROADWAY?
The best way to handle this is to call in a professional. Do NOT attempt to cut the tree in pieces or cut it down all of the way with power tools. Ice makes power tools slippery and the words “slippery” and “power tools” just do not belong in the same sentence together. The thought alone brings to mind a scary image, just do not do it.
CLEAN – UP
It is perfectly alright to do some cleaning up as long as you are extremely careful in doing so. Do not go under weighed down branches if you do not have to. Remember, branches that are weighted down with snow and ice can break unexpectedly.
For the smaller shrubs and trees in your yard, prune the damaged areas out.
You can also remove any of the smaller branches that have fallen and are lying around your yard, driveway, and sidewalk.
DO THE REST LATER
Anything else, leave it. Come springtime you will be able to better see which trees and shrubs will recover and which ones might still have damage to them. If you still have some that are bent over then call a pro to come in and check them. A pro will be able to tell you if your tree or plants can be saved or not.
If you have a tree with a branch that is broken, and it has some bark that has been torn off then it will need what is called “corrective pruning”. Since most trees are “sleeping” in the winter you can wait to do this as long as it is done before spring.
Whatever you do, do not ever have your tree topped. Topping a tree only leaves it vulnerable to more harm during the next winter storm.
If your tree has been extremely damaged, over half of it, and it seems that topping is the only choice then it is best to just have the entire tree removed.
If your shrubs have extreme damage then they can just be cut to the ground during the springtime.
THINGS YOU DO NOT DO!
If your tree or shrub is weighed down heavily with frozen snow or ice, do not hit it with anything or shake it at all. This can cause damage that cannot be repaired.
Of course, common sense tells you not to try to melt the ice with water if the temperatures are going to drop back down to freezing again. It will only cause more ice to form on the branches.
Do not use ice melts or any salt substance on trees, shrubs, or plants. They are extremely toxic to them and will kill them.
As always, prevention, when possible, is best. There are several ways to prevent most of the damage that a winter storm can cause to your landscaping.
The best way is to call in a professional and have them inspect and assess your trees, shrubs, and plants.
They will be looking for things like narrow branches, trees that end up having two or more main stems, split trunks, and broken branches.
If you properly prune your trees, this alone can help tremendously. A professional may suggest the removal of a tree if it seems unhealthy and unsafe or they do not believe that it will remain standing through a winter storm.
For shrubs, a great prevention method is to tie their main stems with a piece of wide material or cloth. Tie them together. You can also wrap the shrubs in burlap. Whichever you choose to do, just remember to take everything off just before the springtime.
TREES & SHRUBS MOST IN DANGER
There are certain shrubs and trees that are more likely than others to suffer from winter storms. Soft wood, fast – growing trees such as willows, birch, and a few others can severely be harmed by just the weight of the ice and snow.
Shrubs such as evergreens like junipers can also experience heavy damage in a winter storm. They can actually split apart by the weight of the snow and ice on them.
If your area gets hit with a winter storm earlier than normal and your plants and trees still have foliage on them, this can cause a major hit to your landscaping.. Many of the plants and trees will have serious, major damage to them.
If you can perform these preventive measures, it will aid in keeping your trees, shrubs, and plant as safe as possible during the winter. However, there are just some things that cannot be avoided.
Severe winter storms are going to do damage regardless of what we do to prevent it. The main thing to remember is simply that after the storm is over, it is always better to leave the shrubs and the trees alone if at all possible and let them heal and recover on their own.
If there is major damage, call in a professional arborist and take their advice on how to handle seriously damaged trees and shrubs.
the initial reaction that most of us have is to jump right in and do what we think is best to try to rid the trees of the damage or to start cleaning up our yards after a major ice storm.
As stated, the clean – up you can tackle as long as you leave the dangerous, major repairs and heavy clean – ups to the pros.
Also, you can gently brush off branches and shrubs that have powdery snow on them, try using a soft broom for this job.
Anything more serious, either leave it to the professional or leave it for the spring when there is no more snow and ice. You can see things easier to be able to assess the situation better.
Be the one who stays safe instead of the one made to be sorry!