It’s always smart to remove heavy snow that collects on your landscape trees before it freezes there and snaps or distorts the branches. Lightly raises branches upward with a sturdy pole or broom and shake the snow off, beginning near the top of the tree. If snow has already frozen on the limbs, or if your tree is covered in ice, you should wait until temperatures go above freezing.
Trees with horizontal branching are usually less susceptible to ice damage and snow. Most conifers such as pine, spruced, juniper, and yew have somewhat flexible limbs and are well adapted to shedding snow before it gets so heavy that it cracks branches.
Multi-stem trees and those with narrow upright branching can be severely harmed when heavy accumulations stretch branches apart. Sometimes tying the stems of such trees together can lessen winter damage. But prevention is a better method. Trim accurately and sustain your trees so that they form strong branching that withstands winter injury.
What to Do
If the lower branches are bending, these can be supported up with boards to keep them from breaking. If the limbs have a bend, so they are touching the ground, leave them in place as the ground is now sustaining the ice weight. Though, if the limbs are at risk of bending more, put wooden support beneath the branch and lightly lift it just a little. The prop doesn’t have to be tall enough to return the branch to its original point. It only has to bear the weight.
What Not to Do
Again, don’t knock the ice from trees. This technique could dislodge ice and break limbs. Also, don’t spray the trees with water to melt the ice. This could create more ice build-up. Ice melting products, like liquid magnesium chloride, shouldn’t be sprayed on the tree. While this might melt the ice, the chloride is deadly to tree tissue.
If you have trees covered in ice, you could try to remove the ice yourself. Just remember to use a broom to knock the ice and snow off the branches. If you don’t feel like being bothered with the job, call a professional tree service company.