, Newburyport, MA

February 13, 2013

Tim's Tips: Protect trees and shrubs during storm cleanup

Tim's Tips
Tim Lamprey

---- — Well, I guess we a got a bit of snow! Shoveling that much snow should qualify as a few days at the gym.

With all that snow blocking the view, you may have a tough time recalling that you have shrubs in your yard. The deep snow can present a few problems for them. The amount of snow can weigh down the branches of arborvitae and other multi-stem plants. As the snow builds up on a branch, its weight tends to cause the branch to fall off.

Your first instinct may be to shake the branch or to knock the snow off of it with a broom. These plants will be brittle from the cold weather that we have had after the storm. A hard whack with a broom or a vigorous shake could cause a branch to snap. It is better to carefully dig out around the branch and then gently brush off the excess snow. The branch will ultimately go back into position if there was no permanent damage.

With the amount of snow on your home’s roof, some of you will have to shovel it off in order to protect the structure. If you do shovel the roof, be careful not to push or throw the snow onto the shrubs that are planted around the house. The heavy snow, dropped from the height of the roof, can cause major harm.

Several years ago, when we had a winter with a lot of snowfall, many shrubs were damaged this way. I know it can be a major job to remove that snow as I spent part of Sunday using my roof rake to get at the snow. But the shrubs that you have planted around your home are a major investment; don’t throw that investment away because you need to shovel off the roof.

The aftermath of the snowstorm also means that you may have to widen the driveway or the walkways. This is also a potential way to damage shrubs. Shoveling that snow back can mean that it lands on shrubs adjacent to the driveway or walkway. Again, a bit of prevention can save you tons of extra expenses come the spring.

Luckily, the snow we got was not the heavy snow that other parts of the state received. Still, you may have some broken limbs on trees in your yard due to the blizzard’s high winds. It is important that any damage be taken care of as soon as possible. If the damaged branch is left on the tree, or if the torn-off branch has left a jagged edge exposed, any water that gets into the area can cause further damage. I know it can be a major problem to get to these trees if they are away from the house, but it is better to treat them now rather than wait until the spring.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.


Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.