We’re in the middle of a heavy, wet snowfall and if your tree hasn’t lost its leaves, the extra weight may cause some branch breakage. But don’t rush out and whack off the snow – you could make things worse by wiping the snow off with a broom, grabbing and shaking the tree, or otherwise adding to the stress the wood is under.
If you feel you must do something, gently bop the branch with the soft bristles of a broom from the BOTTOM up. This will dislodge the snow. Gently is the way to go with this – you don’t want to flail away, bruising and tearing the branches in your desire to help that tree.
If the storm does damage, many people will try to put their trees back together again. We do not recommend that split or broken trunks be glued, duct taped, screwed, cabled, stapled, super-glued, tied, propped, cemented or banded back onto the tree. This will not result in the tree immediately fusing back together, á la Humpty Dumpty.
In fact, this can lead to a very hazardous situation. If the tree is seriously damaged, it may need to be assessed to determine if it is in a dangerous condition. Hazard tree assessments require specifically trained experts to address this highly technical situation with potentially serious legal complications. Many city foresters and certified arborists have the training (and insurance) to perform hazard tree evaluations.
Pruning off the torn branches and cleaning up wound sites is the best answer for lightly damaged trees. If the trunk bark is torn, take a sharp knife and clean the torn bark from the tree, leaving a smooth edge to the wound. Wound paint isn’t recommended – the tree will seal that area itself, and wound paint only locks disease organisms or water into the wound.
If you’re doing your own tree cleanup, always put safety first. Be cautious on ladders or when climbing a tree. Look before you climb to see if any hazards, such as power lines, are in the way.