The Homeowners Column

The Homeowners Column

Winter Woes and Icy Trees

Photo of Sandra Mason

Sandra Mason
Extension Educator, Horticulture
slmason@illinois.edu

At first glance trees encased in ice have a magical quality. The magic quickly vaporizes once damage becomes evident.

About the only thing to do once trees are covered in ice is to hope for warmer weather. Some branches may be propped up with boards until the ice melts. If branches are not broken, most trees will slowly regain their original shape.

Many of our upright evergreens such as arborvitae have multiple trunks that are susceptible to breakage from ice. Damage can be prevented or reduced by tying the trunks together with soft material such as pantyhose. If necessary, support can be secured while arborvitaes are covered in ice. Be sure to remove the ties in spring.

Trees with broken branches require evaluation. A certified arborist may be needed. Any trees with broken branches that may be a danger to people and property should be pruned as soon as possible by a professional. Damaged branches should be removed by cutting back to a side branch or the trunk. Do not top trees or leave branch stubs.

Unfortunately ice damage often rips branches from trees leaving ragged wounds. First decide if the tree is worth saving. If a tree is grossly disfigured or has lost several major branches it may be best to remove the tree.

If the tree is determined to be salvageable, the best course of action is to remove the branch completely than remove the jagged edges from the wound with a sharp knife. Try not to remove much of healthy, tight bark. Tree paints for wounds are not needed or recommended.

Check out this website for more information on repairing ice damaged trees.

http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/icedamage/

Pruning trees on a regular cycle will reduce a tree's susceptibility to damage by removing deadwood and structurally weak branches. A good tree framework starts with proper pruning and training early in a tree's life.

Ice, sleet, and freezing rain. Slip sliding our winters away. Remember when winter was fun?

On the first day of winter my true love said to me, "Isn't it nice I don't have to mow the lawn."

On the second day of winter my true love said to me, "I love the change of seasons". I could never live anywhere without it."

On the third day of winter my true love said to me, "The air feels so crisp. Let's go for a hike in the woods."

On the fourth day of winter my true love said to me, "Oh look it's snowing. Let's make snow angels."

On the fifth day of winter my true love said to me, "Hey the pond is frozen. Let's go ice skating."

On the sixth day of winter my true love said to me, "How long can I wear the same long johns?"

On the seventh day of winter my true love said to me, "Hey my nose is frozen. Do you think it can break off?"

On the eighth day of winter my true love said to me, "Oh drat it's snowing again. How many days are there til spring?"

On the ninth day of winter my true love said to me, "I'm so tired of skating down the sidewalk. Do you think we can move the mailbox closer?"

On the tenth day of winter my true love said to me, "I think I see frozen angels stuck in the snow."

On the eleventh day of winter my true love said to me, "Is there a reason for the change of season? Do you think Dad's extra bedroom in Florida is available?"

On the twelfth day of winter my true love said to me, "Will I ever get to mow the lawn again?"

Happy Holly Days from University of Illinois Extension.

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