Should you knock snow off trees and shrubs, or just leave it?
There are two schools of thought when it comes
to cleaning heavy snow off shrubs, and both have their own merits. One
school feels you should leave things alone until weather improves, since
there is a high likelihood of breaking extra branches with your attempts.
Worst of all, would be cutting off some bent
branches that will eventually spring back when weather improves.
No need to be in a rush to trim this Cherry tree since it will
likely have to
be completely removed after the weather improves.
The other school of
thought is the sooner you get heavy snow off shrubs the better. Iím inclined
to agree with this second school of thought for a couple reasons.
some trees and shrubs in the Arborvitae family donít fair well in heavy snow
storms anytime. As soon as snow starts to build-up on these fragile evergreens,
branches begin bending. Once they are slightly bent, they become susceptible
to even more snow build-up and breakage.
Second, would be
if you have some
neatly pruned pom-pom evergreens in your yard. It is far
too easy for Ďstickyí snow to build-up on these expensive specimens
and either lay them open or bend them over. Neither situation has a good
Third would be the trees and shrubs with softwood. You know the
ones, they break first in every storm. Ornamental Pears come to mind first,
but are usually too tall to effectively knock the snow off.
This ornamental Pear tree split from the heavy weight of
wet snow with its basic structure ruined. While these trees grow fast and
have a nice appearance, their weak wood and "V-shaped" crotches subject them
to this sort of damage.
PRO-ACTIVE OR REACTIVE?
With either method, being
pro-active or re-active to removing snow from plants, they often have
excessive build-up before you are able to act. If they are bent to the
ground and frozen, it is probably best to leave them. However, if it is just
a few big blobs of snow holding them down, strategically removing that snow
will allow many branches and trees to begin straightening.
Once spring arrives it may be necessary to stake and/or wrap some of the
plants that received the most damage. The best material for bundling
multi-stemmed plants back together is that green stretchy tape sold at most
garden centers. Otherwise a decent strength twine will do, just be sure to
check your plants periodically
to see if the twine may need loosened.
As for the plants that had to be removed, you may want to consider
replacements that handle snow storms better. Most nurseries can help guide
you through the varieties they have available. Weather can humble a gardener
faster than anything and snow is just one of the many ways.
This evergreen would benefit from having the major snow knocked off
the top, allowing branches to rebound.
Birches can get bent to the ground like this and still fully recover,
but it's a 'wait and see' on this one.