What to do For Trees Damaged by Winter Storms

Heavy snow and ice during the winter months in Central Ontario can be particularly hazardous to trees all around your property. Damaged Branch’s from ice and snow, leaning or fallen trees can damage your home or create safety hazards throughout your property. While no one can control the weather you can look for signs of distressed trees and help them for a speedy recovery in the spring.

Immediately after a storm you should survey your property. the first step of this is Safety First!

Look for branches are trees that are leaning on utilities such as power lines gas lines etc.  and if identified do not approach contact your local utility company immediately.

Check for broken limbs or leaning trees around your buildings first, do not approach or attempt to pull these branches down yourself without a proper assessment.  Sometimes there could be breaks or cracks in other parts of the trees that are not visible, and you should contact a professional tree service like Belleville Tree Care to address these issues.


First thing you should do after a heavy snowfall, freezing rain or any other winter storm, is walk your property and look for signs of damage on your trees. This is also a good habit to get into at the end of winter to ensure your trees are ready for spring growth. Some of the signs you should be looking for are:

  • Broken or Hanging Branches – Stay well away from broken or hanging branches overhead. These can be a real hazard if you do not know the correct way to handle them. The broken branches should be cut back the collar of the branch, near the trunk that is best left to a certified Arborist
  • Large areas of torn bark – These wounds and a ragged where the bark is torn during a tree branch break or where a fallen tree has contacted another on the trunk. This damage can be repaired and if left unattended can be detrimental to the tree’s health. We suggest contacting a professional for an assessment.
  • Splits in trees – This is common in multi-stemmed trees and minor splits on branches cut heal on their own. Major splits in the trunks can be repaired by bracing and cabling to provide support and help share nutrients through the tree during the healing process.
  • Leaning trees – If you notice your trees are leaning after a winter storm, they can usually mean there is a broken root system, or the trunk of the tree has significant damage. You should call a professional tree care service immediately.
  • Missing or broken tops – This is when the leader which is the main upwards growing part of the tree has broken off. The large wound that topping creates on the main stem can invite disease, insect infestation along with decay


Trees located near roadways are susceptible to salt spray from passing cars as well and where snow is piled up beside walkways for parking areas. Trees are not able to protect themselves from the harmful effects of salt. In the spring look for signs of salt damage However some damage does not become visible until well into the growing season. Some signs of salt burn are brown dead leaves or needles. Smaller leaf growth with burn signs or minimal green leaf coloration. Dying twigs or small branches along with clumping foliage or early fall coloration long before the fall season.

Shrubs burned by absorbing sidewalk salt spread over the winter


Homeowners want to assess the overall health of trees along with any storm damage. In central Ontario many homeowners plant fast growing trees for shade and in turn many of these trees have wood that is especially susceptible to breaking. Trees that sustained severe damage tend to have significant rot or Decay that may not be visible, which is where it is recommended that a regular tree inspection is conducted by a certified Arborist.

Much of the damage to trees is not visible from the ground. Hard winter conditions cause limbs out of sight to break or split Which can cause damage during future storms or allow disease or infestation without the homeowner knowing.

Determining if a tree is worth saving can be a lot of effort and cost. If you are unsure give us a call, at Belleville Tree Care we prefer to save a tree before removing one if that is a reasonable option. Our professionals will come and assess your problem tree(s) and provide an accurate evaluation and recommendations so that you can make an informed decision.

Remember that Belleville Tree Care is here to help you with all parts of your post winter tree care Give us a call today at 343-312-5535 or email us at info@bellevilletreecare.com