How to Care for Trees Damaged by Snow and Ice

Following severe winter weather, homeowners with damaged trees are left wondering if they will survive. Often ice, snow and wind can leave quite a mess in addition to damaged personal property. But it’s very important to know when trees can be saved with simple restorative trimming and pruning, or if they need to indeed be removed entirely. Making hasty decisions can often result in removing trees that could have been saved.

Stay Calm and Be Patient
The first thing to do is stay calm and call a professional ISA certified arborist who can inspect your trees for damage and provide an evaluation. Doing the right thing can make the difference between giving your trees a healthy future and losing them altogether. Take the time to find out what your options are. Removing damaged trees should always be your last resort. The first step is typically removing any fallen limbs that pose a damage to the homeowners property. Certified tree-service companies like Tree Tech must focus first on dealing with hazards to life and property. After that, one of the city’s major tasks is the removal of storm damaged trees, branches and debris. Homeowners should be aware that a tree between the street and sidewalk is typically city-owned and is the city’s responsibility.

Trees are amazingly resilient and many recover with proper care and time. Despite the urge to do something immediately, try to be patient. As long as a damaged tree does not pose an immediate physical risk, the advice is simple: If you’re unsure about its condition, keep the tree for now.

Here’s How to Assess the Damage to Trees:
Before writing off a damaged tree as a total loss, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Other than the storm damage, is the tree basically healthy and vigorous? If the tree is basically healthy, is not creating a hazard, and did not suffer major structural damage, it will generally recover if first aid measures are applied.
    • Are major limbs broken? The larger a broken limb is, the harder it will be for the tree to recover from the damage. If a majority of the main branches are gone, the tree may have little chance of surviving.
    • Has the leader (the main upward-trending branch on most trees) been lost? In species where a leader is important to upward growth or desirable appearance, this may have to be a judgment call. The tree may live without its leader but, at best, would be a stunted or deformed version of the original.
    • Is at least 50 percent of the tree’s crown (branches) still intact? This is a good rule of thumb on tree survival. A tree with less than half of its branches remaining may not be able to produce enough foliage to nourish the tree through the coming growing season.
    • How big are the wounds where branches have been broken or bark has been damaged? The larger the wound is in relation to the size of the limb, the less likely it is to heal, leaving the tree vulnerable to disease and pests. A 2- to 3-inch wound on a 12-inch diameter limb will seal over with new bark within a couple of years.
    • Are there remaining branches that can form a new branch structure? The remaining limbs will grow more vigorously as the tree tries to replace its missing foliage. Check if branches are in place that can eventually fill out the tree’s appearance.
    • Is the tree of a desirable species for its location? The best decision may be to remove the tree if the tree is not only seriously damaged but also is in the wrong location, such as a potentially tall tree beneath a power line, or is an undesirable species for the property, such as messy fruit.

To have your storm damaged trees assessed and treated by a certified Massachusetts arborist, call the tree care experts at Tree Tech today at 888-873-3832. Tree Tech has been providing tree treatments, tree trimming and pruning and complete year round tree services for 25 years through Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Visit us at for more information about a free Arborist damage inspection


  • Jenn

    We had a lot of branches break off the tree in our yard thanks to our last snow storm. If the tree was generally healthy I would have guessed it could be saved. But my husband just said he thinks the tree is going to die. We had to remove a third of the crown because it was diseased earlier this summer, and it’s just looked more and more sad as the weeks and months go by.

  • Mark Meachen

    I am interested in removing a tree and a stump. I’m in Somerville. Can I schedule an estimate?

    Thanks, Mark

    • Carl Taylor

      Best bet is to fill out the form at the bottom of the website, Or you can call the office 508-543-5644

  • Nick

    I have a tree service company in Escondido, CA and we get calls all of the time from people asking us for tree removal quotes. I can’t tell you how many times we send our guys out there and once we’re done assessing the situation, we don’t even offer to remove it because with a little TLC we can absolutely save it. Like you said, sometimes people can be a little hasty, but that’s what companies like ours are here for. To ensure trees are taken care off properly. Nice article!

  • April Cook

    Thank you for the tip to be patient. I want to try and keep our trees, but felt like immediate action was needed. I’ll be patient and see what can be don to save them. What can be done to help prevent damage to trees in winter months? Thank you for the information.

  • P. Wolfe

    We don’t get snow storms here, but the storms in our warmer climate can definitely cause damage to our trees. I have a tree company in San Diego and I agree the best case scenario is to save the tree if possible. I think calling a professional is the best way to go because in the end, and you’re right, with a little patience you might find that your tree can be saved.


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