Dealing With Spring Snow
April 16th, 2020
The roller coaster of spring weather continues here in Colorado. It’s still April, traditionally Colorado’s snowiest month, and it looks like we can expect more snow before we reach May. If you are staying home per the governor’s order, one advantage is that you can keep an eye on your trees and shrubs to help them weather the storms.
Deep snowfalls, especially the ones during spring, tend to be heavier and wetter than powdery winter snows. The snow load can break tree limbs, smother and crush ornamental grasses and splay upright evergreens.
Some tips for helping trees weather the storm:
- Keep an eye on snow accumulating on trees—on both deciduous and evergreens. If branches are sagging under the weight, use something long such as a broom handle to gently shake snow off the branches as high as you can reach. Start at the lowest part of the tree rather than at the top. If you start dusting snow off the top, it will add even more weight onto the lower branches.
- If you have trees that are already leaning, or branches that are at a sharp "V" with one already growing more to the side than upright, avoid standing or putting property under them. These may be signs that a tree could fall over or a branch could break under snow load. Cottonwood trees, for example, are often susceptible to breakage.
- Branches of columnar, upright evergreens can spread apart under heavy snow. Gently shaking snow off these evergreens can help minimize damage.
After the storm:
- Inspect trees for broken branches or "hangers." These are broken branches that seem to be hanging on by a thread. Schedule an expert to cut the branches properly; if the damaged branches pose a danger or hazard, they may be permitted to address the issue now. Check with your municipality for a list of licensed arborists in your area.
- For upright evergreens that have splayed, contact a garden center for material that can be wrapped around the branches to restore their upright shape. Many garden centers are currently offering curbside pickup if you call ahead.
- If ornamental grasses have been crushed, they won't bounce back. When the weather is warm, cut grasses back. This needs to be done in the springtime anyway before new shoots emerge.