Channel 9 News recently ran a story on “How To Remove Snow From Your Trees During An April Storm.” After the spat of snowstorms Denver experienced in March and April, many homeowners wished they had hired a professional tree company for winter tree pruning to avoid picking up all the broken branches and clearing down trees from their yards. Denver’s weather is unpredictable and hard on trees. Heavy early fall and late spring snowstorms can cause a lot of mechanical breakage across the city. Particularly troublesome and dangerous are large tree branches falling unexpectedly next to homes, sheds, garages, sidewalks, and driveways. Falling branches can also take down power lines disrupting electricity in homes across Denver.



Trimming a tall tree after a storm is a safety issue beyond the experience of most homeowners, so hiring a licensed and insured tree company makes sense to care for trees damaged by a snowstorm. Ensure the tree service company has an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborist on staff. Below are some safety tips about removing snow from trees.
  • Before approaching a tree, look up and make sure no broken branches are hanging above.
  • Make sure that the tree is clear of all power lines before removing any snow.
  • Do not approach or touch a damaged tree if a power line runs through its branches.
  • If a tree has taken down a power line, please leave it alone and wait for the local utility to come and clear it. 
  • Rather than shaking a tree, gently sweep off the snow from its branches with a broom. Since the limbs are weighted down and stressed, any rapid movement may cause mechanical breakage.
  • Do not climb up into a tree that has ice on its branches.
  • Trees lying across a street or along city sidewalks may be the responsibility of city crews to clear. 
  • Damaged trees with prominent leaders and most of their canopy intact will recover with proper pruning.
  • Any damaged or broken branches need removal to decrease the risk of disease or insect infection.
  • Be mindful that a twisted branch contains a lot of mechanical energy and, when released, can cause injury.
  • A hard freeze usually kills tree leave and fruit buds. Secondary buds generate new leaves, but the trees will not flower again till the following year. 
  • If the damage is beyond reach, homeowners should hire a professional tree company with the equipment to remove broken branches high in the canopy.
  • If one side of the tree is gone, the best option is to remove the entire tree.

Pruning Used on Storm Damaged Trees

After a storm, pruning should wait until the damaged tree stabilizes its roots and crown. Severely damaged trees might take several trimmings to get them structurally sound and esthetically pleasing. Below are types of pruning used to treat trees damaged by snowstorms. 

  1. Structural Pruning

    Structural training creates a dominant leader with subordinate side branches and secondary limbs. Trees require periodic pruning as it grows from a sapling to maturity to maintain good structure.
    structural pruning

  2. Cleaning Pruning

    While on the job, the tree crew needs to remove any dead, diseased, detached, cracked, or broken branches.
    cleaning pruning

  3. Thinning

    Thinning removes smaller branches from ½ inch to 2.5 inches in diameter to reduce crown density. Thinning retains crown shape and evenly distributes the foliage across the crown. Most thinning requires a boom truck that can reach the top of a tree. Thinning also makes a tree less susceptible to snow breakage.
    thinning pruning

  4. Raising

    City codes require trimming trees at a specific height above sidewalks and streets to provide clearance for people and traffic. Homeowners prune trees to make way for people, cars, and buildings.
     raise pruning

  5. Reducing

    Reduce cutting removes branches to decrease the height and spread of a tree. Reduction cuts larger branches back to smaller ones, making trees less susceptible to wind damage and snow loading.
    reduce pruning

  6. Restorative Pruning

    The objective of restorative pruning is to restore a tree’s structure, form, and appearance. Some trees need pruning each year to promote healthy growth and the desired shape.
    restorative pruning

The year’s spring snowstorms caused a lot of damage to yard trees across Denver. Ross Tree is at your service. One of our three ISA certified arborists will be glad to assess any storm damage. Please call 303-871-9121 or click here to fill out a service request form