The Q&A Archives: Snow on evergreens

Question: Each year we get lots of snow on our evergreen shrubs. Should I clean the snow off the branches so they don't break or is it better to let Mother Nature melt it off? Liz Wallin Rockford, IL

Answer: For light, dry snows, let Mother Nature melt it off. But if the snow is wet, you should try to remove some right after each storm to avoid limbs breaking or bending out of shape, says Jim Schmidt, home horticulturist at the University of Illinois in Urbana. Arborvitae and junipers are especially susceptible to having their limbs distorted from heavy snow loads, he says. Carefully knock off the wet snow with a shovel, trying not to injure branches. If injury occurs to a limb, wait until warmer weather in late winter or spring to remove or shorten the branch. If you have prized evergreen shrubs that are small enough to cover, consider building wooden A-frame shelters to take most of the snow load off the limbs, says Schmidt.

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