How to Safely Remove Snow from Trees

Tree covered in snow next to a roof.

From November through April, most parts of Canada will see some snow. While a blanket of white across your property may look beautiful, too much snow on your trees can represent a risk to their health. The more snowfall you get, the higher the likelihood the weight will cause tree branches to break. Broken branches not only hurt your tree but also could damage your property if they land on a vehicle, roof or other structures. In this article, we’ll review how to remove snow from your trees in a safe manner.

We’ll explain how to determine if you should remove snow from trees, review the snow removal equipment you’ll need, and describe several methods for snow removal. Let’s get started.

Understanding Snow Load

Tree covered in heavy snow.

Aside from the southern parts of British Columbia, most regions see heavy snowfall throughout the winter. As it accumulates, the weight of snow can press down on tree branches. This is especially true of evergreen trees, which don’t lose their foliage in the winter. The snow can layer onto their foliage, adding even more weight to the branches.

Before you learn how to remove snow from a tree, it helps to understand snow load. Pay close attention to your trees and shrubs during the winter. Look for any branches that seem to bend toward the ground. This is a very good indication the branch is under a lot of pressure from snow load.

Be especially vigilant of any trees growing close to your home or with branches that hang over vehicles and structures. A broken branch can cause damage to people, vehicles, and roofs.

Taking Safety Precautions when Removing Heavy Snow from Trees

Rake removing snow from tree.

Should you remove snow from trees? It depends. If your area only experiences light snow, you probably don’t need to bother removing it from your trees and shrubs. However, larger snowfall can put your trees and plants at risk, and snow removal is a good way to ensure they make it through the winter healthy.

To properly and safely remove heavy snow from trees, make sure you have the following snow removal equipment before tackling this job on your own.

  • Rake
  • Broom
  • Telescoping pruning saw
  • Gloves
  • Non-slip boots
  • Goggles
  • Helmet
  • Cold weather clothing

Do not climb a ladder or use a chainsaw when conditions are snowy and icy. Always stand off to the side when clearing branches, never directly under the branch. In instances where trees are under very high snow load, consider using a “spotter” to alert you if the snow begins to shift for fall.

How to Remove Snow from Trees

There are several simple and effective ways to remove snow from trees and shrubs. Let’s start with the easiest.

Gently Shake the Branch

If the tree only contains a light layer of snow and you can easily reach the branch, give it a gentle shake to dislodge the snow. This method can also be effective for shrubs. Be very careful not to shake the branch too hard. Tree branches tend to be more fragile in the winter, and the branches may be brittle and more prone to breaking.

Sweep the Branch

For heavier layers of snow, use a rake, broom, brush, or push broom to remove snow from the branch. Again, never stand directly under the branch. Push the snow away from yourself. Another option is to use a leaf blower to remove the snow from branches.

Shovel the Snow

In conditions of heavy snowpack, try using a shovel to remove the snow from tree branches, as long as you have safe access. Use an upward sweeping motion to clear the snow off branches.

What to Do About Ice on Trees

Tree branches covered in ice.

When temperatures drop quickly, snow often turns into ice, so it’s important to remove snow from trees as soon as possible. Once snow freezes or ice has formed, there’s really no easy and safe way to remove the ice from trees. You’ll need to wait for it to melt. Do not put deicing compounds like salts or other chemicals on your trees, as this will damage branches and possibly cause irreparable harm to the tree.

Professional Snow Removal

Removing heavy snow from trees can quickly become dangerous, especially if you need to use a ladder or trimming equipment. In these cases, it’s best to leave snow removal to the professionals.

It’s also a good idea to contact your landscapers when the winter season is approaching to trim back any tree branches that could fall and threaten vehicles or structures. A pro will also check on the health of your trees and remove any dead or struggling trees that may fall during the winter.

The Grounds Guys Can Remove Snow from Trees

The best way to maintain a healthy landscape during the winter is to work with a professional landscaping company like The Grounds Guys. Our local teams of experienced pros offer pruning and trimming services as well as all-around tree care. We also provide residential snow removal, so you never have to worry about having to shovel yourself.

Keep your trees and the rest of your landscape healthy and happy this winter, find The Grounds Guys location nearest you. When you work with us, you also get our Neighbourly Done Right Promise™, ensuring experience, reliability, and a great job every time.

Request a free estimate today.