The Denver Homeowner’s Guide to Preventing Winter Storm Damage

Autumn is upon us and trees along the Front Range are already showcasing their fabulous fall colors. In this season we truly appreciate our trees for their beauty. But in a matter of months, winter storms can strike and cause irreparable damage. Wondering what you can do to protect your trees and keep them healthy? Winter tree trimming is a must-do this season to prepare your trees to weather the storms ahead.


How Much Damage Can a Winter Storm Do to Denver Trees?

To be honest, we are all looking forward to the end of 2020 and with Denver already getting a surprise snowstorm, winter suddenly doesn’t feel that far off. Whether you’re dreaming of a white Christmas or preparing for a snow-in, it is critical to consider the harsher realities of winter weather.


Interestingly, trees are biologically engineered to adjust to the external forces of wind and can develop extra strength to withstand these factors. This natural feature helps them survive, but it cannot protect them from severe weather conditions. Denver trees are known for their hardiness, but even the toughest trees can be dealt serious damage by winter storms. 


Denver trees suffered three major setbacks in the 2019-2020 calendar year alone: temperature swings and a cold snap in October, followed by a winter drought, and then an April freeze. All of these weather events have caused undue stress on front range trees that make them more susceptible to winter damage and injury.


Here are the most common types of winter storm damage Denver trees incur:


  • Wind Throw: This occurs when the whole tree is ‘knocked over’ by high winds.
  • Crown Twist:  Uneven wind pressure on a lopsided or uneven tree crown creates a damaging twist on major branches and the stem. This twisting causes the tree stress, much like twisting a rope backwards, resulting in splits and cracking. This is especially damaging around old wounds or other defects, which can lead to failure. 
  • Stem Failure: Aged injury sites or wounds are normal on tree trunks, and these stressed areas can lead to tree failure under excessive loads of ice, snow, or wind. Trunks can even snap or buckle if the tree is incapable of withstanding the severe winds. 
  • Root Failure: Stability and anchoring are two critical functions of the root system for keeping a tree upright. Roots that are blocked, ill or damaged can cause trees to lean and fall while under pressure from winter storms.
  • Branch Failure: Tree branches are common victims claimed by loads of snow and ice. Branches can often be loosely attached to the main stems, and therefore easily experience injury. They can also create high-risk situations in the wrong places!


What Is My Responsibility As a Homeowner and Denver Resident?

According to the Denver Parks and Recreation department, here’s a summary of what property owners are responsible for in the event of winter storm damage:


  • Cleanup of debris from trees on private property and from trees within the public right-of-way adjacent to their property.
  • Limbs on the ground are considered debris. Property owners can hire any licensed company to haul limbs away- for this type of work, the company does NOT have to be a licensed tree contractor.
  • Pruning needs of private property trees and trees within the public right-of-way adjacent to their property.

How much damage can a storm do to trees? The short answer is a lot. Trust us, it’s better to be proactive than reactive in these scenarios. The cost of cleaning up after storm damage can add up fast! 

  • Need an emergency tree removal? $900+
  • Stump grinding? $200+
  • Tree branch falls on car? $500+ insurance deductible or $2,000+ out-of-pocket

Let’s not even think about if your tree fell on your neighbor’s property- what a nightmare! 

As a homeowner you can do the  responsible thing and lower your risk and liability now with expert winter tree trimming.

What is the Most Effective Way to  Prevent Future Storm Damage? 

You’ve put so much time and energy into your landscaping during spring and summer that you might have been ready to take a break come October and November. Don’t get too complacent- you might just miss your opportunity to start taking proactive action for the winter months. Winter tree trimming by certified arborists is your first line of defense against future storm damage!


Damaged, dead, or dying trees are a liability on your property. They are susceptible to breaking or falling under the weight of heavy snow or during a winter storm. This makes them downright dangerous! Sadly, many Denver trees are lost each year from storm-related events. Major damage to parts of the tree or even the entire tree can result from high winds, snow and ice. Expert winter trimming makes them safer and it can also rescue weaker trees by getting rid of dead and diseased wood, making room for healthy new growth.


When is the Best Time to Trim Denver Trees?

Tree trimming can certainly be accomplished year-round, but one of the best opportunities to trim trees in Denver is during the winter months. Here’s why: during the winter season trees go into a state called dormancy. During this time, trees naturally go to sleep, take a break, and stop producing new growth. Trimming during the wintertime will not cause the tree any stress and will encourage new growth to come springtime. 


Contact one of our certified arborists to learn more about the right winter tree trimming strategies and benefits for your Denver trees.


How Will Winter Pruning Benefit My Front Range Trees?

Tree shape is just one part of trimming, check out all these interesting benefits of trimming during winter:


Free Of Leaves, Your Tree Structure Is On Full Display

In late fall and early winter your tree is bare, the structure of your tree is clearly on full display. In this state, a trained arborist can quickly pick out dangerous branches, or diseased wood. While working with its bare bones, professionals can easily get your tree in the best shape possible. This lets us determine whether or not pruning is needed to keep your trees safe and looking their best!


Keep Your Lawn Intact

Heavy equipment is sometimes needed to accomplish tree trimming. The cold hard earth will not be utterly destroyed in the process, and your landscape and lawn can stay intact. Overall, that typically saves time and money and produces great results. 


Spring Showstopper

Overgrown shrubs and trees pruned in winter will be able to recover quickly in spring with new growth. This will also minimize the amount of time you’ll spend looking at a plant that looks like a bunch of sticks after rejuvenation pruning!


Stay On Nature’s Cycle

Like animals who hibernate, winter is a tree’s time to rest and recharge. Getting your annual trimming and pruning accomplished during the winter will not cause tree stress like it would during any other season. The timing provides optimal wound closure, allowing time for healing, and reduces the chance of disfiguration. A stress-free tree is a happy tree!


Winter tree trimming takes into account the life cycle of harmful bacteria and fungus that spread serious disease. By trimming during dormancy, you can effectively avoid spreading Denver tree diseases that are active and spread easily during the spring and summer growing seasons. These bacteria are either dead or dormant during winter. Therefore, these diseases are less likely to be transmitted by trimming and pruning. 


Additional Benefits of Winter Trimming For Fruiting & Flowering Trees

Proper annual trimming controls the tree structure, which in turn affects the tree’s light intake and crop load. In general, trees that go long periods without trimming usually produce very little growth and small fruit. According to a guide by the Colorado State University Extension, trimming fruiting and flowering trees annually is key to their ongoing health, growth, and productivity. 


Best practices include:

  • Thinning out branches to create stronger branch attachments and dense growth 
  • Prune old spurs to encourage new ones
  • Trim branches to create an open center, maximizing sunlight to all parts of the tree


Why Should I Hire Certified Arborists to Do My Tree Trimming?

Improper trimming can be harmful to the tree’s health and yours. Before you try to do your own trimming consider the benefits of hiring our expert arborists.


Knowledge, Experience, Performance

For many homeowners, following proper technique or safety procedures is just not something they have the background knowledge or training to do. Aside from safety, the other goal of tree trimming is to enhance the overall shape, beauty, and health of the tree. DIY trimming can easily be turned into a hack job. You start with a couple of cuts and before you know it, you’ve given your tree a bad haircut! 



In addition, it goes without saying, that tree trimming is inherently dangerous. According to the National Agency on Safety Database the three most commonly reported causes of serious tree trimming accidents are electrocution, falls from trees, and being struck by limbs. These real-life hazards can be fatal! To keep yourself fully safe, you’d need training on line-clearance trimming and identifying electrical hazards, how to use a harness and trim at higher heights, and how to make strategic cuts to avoid falling limbs. Even with research and the best-laid plans DIY tree trimming can still be risky.


Licensed & Insured

This is where our expertise comes in. Fully licensed and insured, our team of highly trained arborists knows the exact steps for protecting your trees and property while keeping everyone safe. We have the right equipment and tools to perform tree trimming services across the Denver metro area. We have a trained eye for spotting weak, damaged, or diseased wood that needs to be removed and how to create the perfect cuts to encourage new growth. 


Schedule a consultation with one of our certified arborists today to create a custom plan for your winter tree trimming needs!