LandscapingThe Snow Broke My Branch (And My Heart)…Now What?
Everyone loves a tranquil winter wonderland…until that snowy blanket goes and breaks one of your favorite tree’s limbs.

The Snow Broke My Branch (And My Heart)…Now What?

Investing your time, money, energy, and—yes—emotions into your landscaping means that when something gets damaged or dies off, it can feel like a little (or big) piece of your heart has broken along with it. And is there anything worse than realizing that the same beautiful blanket of white that has covered your lawn with sparkling wonder is the same beast that took down a massive branch from your favorite tree? It probably doesn’t feel like it.

So now what? Can you fix a broken branch? Is there any way for the tree (or you) to recover from such a tragedy? How can you prevent this from happening in the future?

How To Repair Tree Damage In Winter

Because your heart feels as heavy as your snow-laden limbs, you may want to rush out and take some rash action. Whether that instinct takes the form of resuscitation attempts or an immediate branch-ectomoy, our advice is to slow down, breathe a minute, and take these important steps to fix a broken branch in winter.

How To Fix A Broken Branch: Assess The Situation

Once you’ve completed your breathing exercises, it’s time to assess the situation. You don’t want to remove a tree or even a branch that could have been saved because you were hurrying the decision. Here are a few things to look for and ask yourself when assessing how to, or whether or not you even can, fix a broken branch.

Here are a few things to look for and ask yourself when assessing how to, or whether or not you even can, fix a broken branch.
  • Does the broken limb or trunk pose immediate threat to safety, life, or other valuable property?
  • Does at least 50% of the tree still look great, including the main leader branch?
  • Aside from the snow or storm damage, is the tree normally healthy and robust? (Keep in mind that a younger tree may have more resilience and therefore bounce back from winter tree damage faster than an older tree.)
  • Are there wounds on the tree from ice damage or another falling tree small enough that they could potentially heal in the next few years? (Think 1:10 or smaller in terms of wound size to branch ratio.)
  • Is the damage enough along with other negative factors (like messy dropping fruit or a too-tall species growing beneath a power line) to make you want to lose the tree altogether?

Based on these points, it’s time to come to a preliminary decision. If the damning evidence is very clear, it’s okay to move forward with safe tree removal. If, however, you believe the tree can be saved—which is the case with most winter tree damage—it’s time to safely begin to fix your broken branch.

How To Fix A Broken Branch: Be Safety Conscious

Many times, damaged tree branches are under a lot of strain with plenty of built-up momentum ready to release at the first sign of cutting.

Many times, damaged tree branches are under a lot of strain with plenty of built-up momentum ready to release at the first sign of cutting. So, be careful. Even when just taking a look, it’s important to take a good look around, from a distance, at what is really going on. Are there large branches, power lines, or any other objects that may fall on you or otherwise cause harm? If so, stay back until professional help arrives. One of our top winter tips for landscaping is to know your limits. It’s a good idea to get a professional landscaper’s assistance if your broken tree branch is over 6 inches in diameter.

If you are capable of handling minor winter tree damage yourself, make sure you’re well equipped with proper how-to-fix-a-broken-branch knowledge and sharp tools to get the job done safely and well.

How To Fix A Broken Branch: Apply First Aid

For simple limb “repairs” you should be able to easily remove the broken branch at or near where it joins a larger, healthier branch. Again, make sure you have proper equipment that is clean and sharp to prevent doing more damage through the spread of disease or by exposing more of the tree’s cambium than necessary.

If your broken limb has actually torn away from the tree exposing the inner portion of the tree, carefully remove the branch and then use a sharp chisel or knife to cut away the ragged portion of the bark, leaving a clean wound that can heal much nicer and faster.

If your broken limb has actually torn away from the tree exposing the inner portion of the tree, carefully remove the branch and then use a sharp chisel or knife to cut away the ragged portion of the bark, leaving a clean wound that can heal much nicer and faster.

Doing these things are a good starting to fixing a broken branch, but oftentimes you’ll need to wait until spring to assess the tree again. Once it has come out of dormancy, you’ll be able to see what is alive and growing and what may still need to be pruned away to give your tree the best chance of thriving for years to come.

How To Fix A Broken Branch: Let It Go

Sometimes, as much as we hate to, we just have to let a damaged tree go. If the tree is putting other valuable property at risk, too much damage has been done, or such a large leader has been broken off that the tree will no longer hold any appeal (shade capacity, visual effect, etc.) in your otherwise beautiful landscaping,it’s time to part with the tree. At this stage, it’s smart to contact professional landscaping services to help remove the tree in a safe and effective way that can help prepare your yard for new life when you’re ready to plant again.

5 Things To Do For Your Trees & Shrubs Before Winter

There is the occasional winter tree damage that just can’t be avoided—mother nature is going to do her thing no matter what! But there are a few tasks you can put on your Winter Prep list that can help prevent unnecessary damage to trees and larger shrubs in your landscaping and save you a load of heartache.

5 Things To Do For Your Trees & Shrubs Before Winter
Image credit: Step Above Inspections
  1. Don’t prune. Pruning in the fall can stimulate new growth that won’t have time to mature and strengthen before the snow flies, making it susceptible to frost damage or breakage.
  2. Prune. Yeah, we know what we said. But here we’re just talking about the stuff you can already tell is damaged, weak, or dead before winter comes. This way, you can take care of it before it’s icy, covered in snow, and risking more damage to your property.
  3. Water. Yep, even in the winter, some trees are still going to be asking for water—particularly evergreens which don’t go dormant in the winter. On the warmest day you can, make sure you get your trees some water to avoid desiccation which can lead to weakness and breakage.
  4. Don’t get salty. Preventing icy walkways in the winter is important, but make sure that you’re not piling salt-heavy snow near your trees which can cause salt burn causing dry, brittle plant life more at risk for breaking.
  5. Shake it off. Every so often, if you see your limbs getting weighed down a bit, take a broom and safely help the tree free itself of its snowy burden. If done often, this can help prevent heavy buildup and reduce the chance of a limb breaking.

Big Rock Landscaping: Your Winter Landscaping Experts

When people think of landscaping, it’s usually in a summery, garden kind of way. But at Big Rock Landscaping, we’re ready for all things landscaping, all year long. That includes winter and all the beauty—and broken limbs—that go along with it. Give us a call to find out how we can help you plan, design, install, and maintain the landscaping of your dreams!

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