In certain regions of the United States, ice, snow, and sleet storms wreak havoc on your lawn and the trees that adorn it. Homeowners need to be weary of what kind of trees are in their yards and their level of resistance to the elements. Moreover, certain aspects of the tree itself lend to its resistance to the elements: bark, dead and decaying branches, and crown size (the part above the trunk where branches and leaves begin) all affect the tree.

Ice that sits on a tree branch can increase the weight of the branch by 30 times. Ice formation typically ranges from a trace amount to one inch in additional diameter around the stem. Between ¼ and ½ inch of ice is where small branches and weak/dead limbs begin to break. From ½ to 1 inch in total diameter is where larger branches break off. This can result in extensive and irreparable damage to the tree. Finally, wind aids in ice damage by rushing cold air and heavy ice particles onto the already vulnerable parts of a tree.

A few safety measures will go a long way in the colder months. When the snow and ice eventually arrive, the best course of action is to wait for the ice to thaw. Applying any sort of treatment or water to the tree will either kill the tree or further freeze. 

Preventative measures include pruning dead and small branches off the trees in your yard. This will keep the dead weight from relying too heavily on the weight of the trunk of the tree. You can cover your shrubs in a protective wrap during the winter months so that they are not bogged down by the weight of snow and ice, thereby damaging the bush.