Plants - Trees and Shrubs

Caring for trees and shrubs after an ice storm

Adrienne Brown

Tips from the experts on how to help out your precious plants after severe winter weather

Assessing small trees and shrubs
Terry Childs, president of Nature’s Way Landscaping in Gananoque, Ont., says smaller plants like decorative trees or shrubs are hit hardest in winter by excessive weight, either from wet snow, ice or a combination of the two, especially when it slides off the roof onto plants. “This instant weight on the plant can cause severe damage, although it’s usually cosmetic,” he says. The good news, he adds, is that many plants can survive this.

If you have a damaged plant from this year’s harsh winter weather, Childs recommends trimming off broken branches “as close to the break as possible with clean, sharp tools.” Then, come spring, continue with your usual pruning. If you are unsure about how to prune your particular tree or shrub, find a trained professional.

Also consider applying a low Nitrogen natural fertilizer, advises Childs. “Natural fertilizers are broken down by the active microbes in the soil and are therefore available when the plant requires the nutrients and are not affected by runoff.” Try a liquid Ascophyllum nodosum (kelp) application.

Most importantly, though, Childs says the best thing we can do for our plants and trees is prevent future damage.

Give your plants the leg up on growing and living well by:
  • Having the right plants in the right locations.
  • Feeding and watering your plant through the warmer seasons so it’s as healthy as possible heading into winter.
  • Pruning plants according to their specific needs.
  • Fertilizing in the fall so your plant wakes up in the spring to lots of nutrients.

Safety note: Never attempt to clear branches from power lines. If you suspect a dangerous situation, call your municipality or local utility company.

Image by lienkie/iStock

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