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Garden Fail: Knocking Snow Off Bent Branches

If possible, just leave weighed-down branches alone. Source: Claire Tourigny, from the book Les 1500 trucs du jardinier paresseux

When snow or ice bends the branches of trees, shrubs and conifers, the best thing to do is … nothing at all!

Trying to clear snow or (especially) ice off a bent branch with a broom or shovel can do more damage than the weight of the snow/ice itself, as wood becomes brittle at temperatures below freezing. Even manually straightening the limb may cause the wood to crack.

When a thaw occurs, the branches almost always return to their original shape. And if some were to remain a bit bent, a temporary stake, added for a week or two in the spring, will usually be enough to get them back in shape.

Of course, if the weighed-down branch is blocking access to your walk or is otherwise in the way, you’ll have little choice but to try to raise it (but try a broom rather than a shovel). Otherwise, just let Ma Nature do her job!

Garden writer and blogger, author of more than 60 gardening books, the laidback gardener, Larry Hodgson, lives and gardens in Quebec City, Canada. The Laidback Gardener blog offers more than 2,500 articles to passionate home gardeners, always with the goal of demystifying gardening and making it easier for even novice gardeners. If you have a gardening question, enter it in Search: the answer is probably already there!

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