Snow falling on cedars…not always a good thing

Seattle had its first snowfall last week – a mere 3-6″ – and the city shut down.  (Yes, those of you in the snowier parts of the midwest and east can laugh…but we’ve got hills.  That’s the main problem.)  It was unusally cold, so the snow that fell was the light, fluffy kind that I remember from our Buffalo years.

Every year someone writes to ask whether they should remove the snow from their trees and shrubs.  Here’s what I suggest:

1)  If it’s very cold and the snow is dry and light, I advise leaving the snow on.  It serves to insulate tissues from freeze damage.

2)  If the snow is wet and heavy (i.e. temperatures are not that cold), you should remove as much as possible.  The insulation isn’t necessary, and the weight load can permanently damage trees and shrubs.

This damage can’t be easily repaired; the only alternatives are to cut bent trunks and branches out entirely (no stub cuts!), or to tie them up.  Not being into plant bondage, I generally cut bent branches away.