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Snow And Its Effects On Our Trees

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We’re taking a break from our regular guide to the River Valley Park system to focus on a subject that will be the topic of many conversations to come. Snow: it’s the most emblematic part of a Prairie winter. Without it, the season wouldn’t be the same. For one thing, we wouldn’t have to worry about driving through blizzards. For another, we wouldn’t have to strain our backs as we shovel our driveways clear — sometimes twice in one day!

Snow may be a beautiful addition to the season, especially in the lead up to the holidays, but it can be the root cause of a lot of wintertime frustrations, and it’s not limited to how many times you have to break out the shovel — or snow blower if you’re lucky. Snow can have a profound effect on the trees growing across this great city.

Though by no means the first snowfall of the season (we all remember October’s surprise storm), January’s flurries are here to stay. Unfortunately, it only marks just one of many winter storms in our future. Since there’s a lot more where that came from, now is the perfect time to go over some simple winter tips on how to protect your trees and property this winter.

Let Fallen Snow Lie — As the centimetres begin to accumulate, your trees may begin to bend, droop, or otherwise distort under the weight of snow and ice. Your first instinct may be to help your trees by shaking snow from its struggling branches, but we suggest you keep your hands to yourself. Though it may seem like you’re doing your trees a favour, you may actually cause more damage. The cold winter air causes branches to become brittle. In some cases it can cause small breakages that have a larger collective impact on its circulatory system. In the worst case scenario you can break a limb clean off.

Let the Experts Remove Problem Branches — In the above scenario, accidentally breaking off a weakened branch may sound like an added bonus. After all, you’re eliminating a limb that may fall onto visitors or your home later on in the season. Branches at risk of breaking off from the rest of the tree pose a significant danger you should never ignore; however, there’s a right and wrong way to eliminate this threat. Solving the issue by breaking or ripping off a branch will only cause new ones in the springtime, as the tree will have difficulty healing from this traumatic wound. Our crew of ISA-certified arborists are trained to make the correct cut every time. We perform expert pruning so that the tree can heal better during the winter and grow properly in the spring.

Arrange a Quick Consultation before Too Much Snow Falls — Weakened branches aren’t the only defects that can be exacerbated by winter storms. Large cracks in the bark can eventually spread deeper into the tree; disease can damage its root system, limiting its growth and increasing its chances of blowing over; and poor tree structure can result in overall weakness or imbalance in its architecture. A quick visit from one of our arborists will reveal if any of these issues are affecting the trees on your property, and we’ll give you a time line of when to treat them. If we think your tree can’t make it through the season, we’ll suggest immediate care, but some things can wait until spring.

Winter might not be your favourite time of the year, but for us here at Chipps, it’s just another season that we get to service the trees in the Greater Edmonton Area. We don’t just outfit our crews with top of the line, low-impact rigging equipment. We also make sure everyone on our team is dressed properly for the season. That means we’re ready to take on winter-time pruning and tree removal when the wind chill is at its worst. That’s just a part of winter in Edmonton and our jobs as the city’s arborists!