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.

One thought on “Snow falling on cedars…not always a good thing

  1. On page 485 of the 2nd edition of his classic arboriculture textbook, Richard Harris included a discussion of using narrow gauge wire and washers to protect multistemmed evergreens from the damage you’ve described.

    A couple of years ago, I took the liberty of describing this technique on my TV program. It can be viewed online at I also write about the technique on the following page of my website,

    I hope this will be helpful – and, keep up the great work!

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