Snow is both friend and foe to trees and shrubs, said Tchukki Andersen, a staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA).

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“Snow causes its share of damage, as we all know, but in many cases it also protects plants and their roots from extreme fluctuations in temperature that could damage or even kill them,” Andersen said.

Excess snow, however, can also damage trees and woody shrubs by bending, breaking and splitting, and causing them to fall or uproot. Whether woody plants will be damaged in one of these ways depends upon several factors.

Coniferous evergreens, for instance, can bear more snow weight than broadleaf evergreens. A tree’s form can also determine how well it will withstand heavy snow. For example, pine (low altitude), spruce and fir trees with spread branches are more likely to be damaged by heavy snowfall than trees with steeper angled branches.

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