Winter can be hard on trees. Heavy snow and ice, along with winter winds can split branches or even uproot entire trees. Although not everything can be prevented, there are steps that can be taken in order to reduce the potential damage.
When one branch breaks, it can often lead to other healthy branches below it being injured as it falls. Splits in the wood may occur from heavy snow and ice or winds that may not be visible immediately, which is why seemingly healthy branches sometimes break off in the summer on a perfectly calm day.
In an effort to prevent winter damage, an arborist will prune away problem branches, including crossing or rubbing, diseased, dying or dead branches.
Regardless of whether you are trying to prevent damage or simply maintain healthy trees, winter is the best time to prune for structural integrity. Dormant trees are not actively photosynthesizing and new growth is at a minimum, which reduces pruning stress. Additionally, branch structure is a lot more visible once the leaves have fallen. Vertical stress cracks along trunks and branches are easier to detect. The ideal time to prune your trees only lasts a few months, so be sure you make an appointment before new growth starts in the early spring.