As much as we all like to see frost-covered branches in the winter, especially at Christmas time, ice and snow are not welcome guests when it comes to the safety of your trees. Unfortunately, the trees at the greatest risk are the fast-growing ones that homeowners covet most. These tend to be brittle, and they easily split apart at weak V-shaped crotches.
Yet, other species of trees are causes for concern as well. Multiple leader, upright evergreens or clump trees (such as juniper and birch) are very susceptible to snow and ice damage, so the smaller members need to be wrapped, while their larger members with wide-spreading leaders benefit from being cabled.
Some tips to keep in mind when dealing with trees vulnerable to winter weather are: Make annual pruning a habit from the time trees are young, plant only strong trees, and make “conical formed” trees a mainstay of your landscaping as they have less branch surface area to encourage snow-buildup.
For more tips, and lists of the best and worst trees to plant in snowy areas, check out the full article in our winter 2012 How-To newsletter.