After receiving more than a foot of snow yesterday, you may be wondering what, if anything, you should do about the snow and ice build-up on your plants.

Japanese Maple covered in snow.

Japanese Maple covered in snow.

In most cases, snow is a very positive thing for your trees and shrubs. Snow is a great insulator, and it melts to provide much needed water to dry plants in the winter. Heavy snow and ice build-up on the other hand, can cause damage in the garden if limbs and trunks bend or break.

The following tips will explain how to handle snow and ice on trees and shrubs in your garden:

  • Use a Broom or Your Hands: Always sweep in an upward motion, loosening the snow and allowing it to fall. Do not sweep downward, as this could break an already bent branch. Do not shake the plant. The branches will be very brittle and already stressed, so disturb them as little as possible.
  • Avoid Accumulation: You’ll have much less damage to your plants if you remove snow after every couple of inches of accumulation, rather than waiting until it is deep.
  • Leave Ice Alone: Don’t try to remove ice, as the branch will likely break. Once ice has formed, you really should just wait it out.