Winter Damage to Trees

winter damage to treesWinter weather can bring snow, ice, wind, and rain at any time to Indiana and the Midwest. When winter weather strikes, we often sit at home glued to our televisions with anticipation of what this storm will bring and how it will affect the various communities of the Indianapolis area. Besides school closings, grocery shortages, or road closures, winter weather may also cause winter damage to trees.  Even though trees, plants, and grass are dormant in the winter, they are still potentially vulnerable to weather damage. Trees are particularly susceptible to injury in the cold months, though the effects are often not obvious until spring.

Causes of Winter Damage to Trees

The low temperatures, frost, ice, and dry air of the winter months can take a toll on some trees.  Trees and plants that are exposed to the stresses of harsh winter weather may be damaged or weakened, and some may even struggle to survive.  Common winter weather events, including fluctuating temperatures, rapid temperature drops, and low soil moisture, that are known to cause winter tree damage are detailed below.

Low or Fluctuating Temperatures

When temperatures drop below a plant’s natural tolerance, trees and plants can sustain damage.  Trees or plants that are on the edge of their hardiness zone may not be able to withstand those record-cold days. Temperature fluctuations can also cause problems, such as frost cracks, which result from a sharp drop in temperature.  Frost cracks are vertical cracks that form in the bark of a tree.  They occur more often on the sun-facing side of the tree due to the greater variance between daytime and nighttime temperatures. Sunscald is a similar injury which causes an area of damaged bark resulting from warming of that area by the sun.  Often frost cracks and sunscald only cause superficial damage.  In these cases the tree or plant will recover, though the injury itself may be permanent. If you are unsure about specific damage, Ping’s is always available to help you assess the health of your trees.

Warm Weather Followed by Frost

Did you know that trees can get frostbite?  Frost forms when humidity in the air combines with near- or below-freezing temperatures. This can be problematic if a tree or plant is actively growing or producing. Frostbite shows up on trees or plants as brown or black flowers, buds, leaves, or fruit. New leaves and shoots will often twist, curl, or wilt in frost conditions.  The most common time for a tree or plant to be frostbitten is late winter or early spring.  When warmer weather causes plants to emerge from dormancy, they are vulnerable to damage from frost.  Rarely, this may also happen in an unseasonably warm winter.

The Weight of Ice Build-Up

During the winter months, trees are dormant and brittle. If a winter storm brings ice, it may cause winter damage to trees. When this happens, don’t try and remove the ice from your trees. Doing so may cause more damage to the tree. Pruning in the fall (or even in the winter) helps reduce the risk of injury due to a storm. After an ice storm, there are a few things you can look at to see if a tree service professional is needed:

  • Was the tree healthy prior to the storm?
  • Has any portion of the crown been lost?
  • Are there any broken limbs or branches?
  • Are there any cracks in the wood?
  • Is the tree leaning?

If any of these conditions exist, the certified arborists from Ping’s Tree Service can evaluate your trees and help assess the damage from ice on a tree.

Winter Dryness in Evergreens

For the same reason our lips and skin feel dry and chapped in the winter, trees and plants can struggle to find moisture as well. Lower moisture content in the air and soil create a very dry winter environment. Evergreens are particularly vulnerable to damage from winter dryness.  This condition, called winterburn, creates browning of evergreen needles.  In severe cases, the plant may not recover.  Application of an anti-desiccant to evergreen trees through the winter can protect against winterburn.

When you work with Ping’s Tree Service, you’ll find that we take specific, proven steps to keep your trees healthy year-round. A Ping’s certified specialist will recommend plants that are naturally hardy to our communities and help you manage any trees or shrubs that are particularly susceptible. Some steps you can take to prevent winter damage to trees include:

  • Planting trees and shrubs in well-drained soil conditions
  • Using mulch and checking soil moisture in advance of freezing conditions
  • Using wind breaks to prevent damaging or drying conditions
  • Utilizing a customized Ping’s Tree Service plan to provide the right nutrient content, protection, and water to your landscaping.

Whether in the numbing cold or the blistering heat, Ping’s understands the science of tree care and knows what your trees need.  Call Ping’s Tree Service today at 317-298-8482 to see what we can do to keep your trees healthy and growing.

Winter Safety Tips

winter safety tipsEvery year we know it’s coming.  Yet the first cold blast of winter is still a shock.  Did we really think that the beautiful days of autumn would not succumb to the icy days of winter?  We can’t expect that in central Indiana!  As we enter the cold and snowy season, we are also entering a season that brings with it some increased risks.  It is important to be aware of the potential danger that accompanies winter weather so that you can take steps to minimize your risk.

Risks to Your Health

The cold weather that inevitably arrives this time of year does more than just make us uncomfortable.  It actually takes a toll on our bodies.  When it is cold, it requires more energy just to maintain normal bodily functions.  This is a stress on the body, though in healthy individuals it is a minimal one.  Health is additionally strained by the assault on the immune system caused by increased infectious diseases.  For these reasons, winter sees a spike in illnesses as well as heart attacks.  To stay well during the winter months, get plenty of rest, stay away from sick individuals, and don’t exert yourself beyond your limits.

Risks at Home

Winter weather can be hazardous to your house as well as your body.  One of the most damaging elements of winter can be the freezing temperatures.  Severe cold can freeze water in your pipes or water that is blocked in your gutters or on your roof.  The expansion that occurs in the freezing process can cause pipes to burst or ice dams to form, resulting in household floods.  To avoid these damaging events, ensure pipes (especially those on an outside wall) stay adequately warm and remove any obstructions to water flow patterns on your exterior.

Another common danger during severe winter weather is fallen or uprooted trees.  Brisk winds can easily bring down branches or even trees.  Just a little bit of heavy ice or snow can also do a lot of damage and do it quickly.  Since weak or dead trees or branches are more susceptible to wind, snow, and ice, they should be taken care of before they fall on your valuable property, such as home or car.  Ping’s can trim these dangerous branches for you or take down dead trees.  They are also ready to clean up any tree emergencies that you experience.

Risks on the Road

Accumulating snow and icy temperatures affect more than just your home.  They also have a significant effect on the roads.  When winter storms blow in quickly, they can cause the roads to become very dangerous in a short span of time.  The best defense against these risks is to stay off the roads when possible.  But that is not always feasible.  When you have to travel in inclement weather, you should be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.  It is also important to have an emergency kit in your car.  The kit should include your phone and a charger, a blanket, hat and gloves, a flashlight, flares, a first-aid kit, and snacks.  While you might not always be able to predict when severe weather will hit, you can be prepared when it does.

Risks to Your Business

Finally, if you are a business owner, you have not only yourself, your family, and your home to protect, but also your business.  You must consider your employees and your commercial property.  Some of the same risks for homes also exist for commercial property.  Be on the look-out for vulnerable trees and branches as well as potential flooding disasters.  It is also important to avoid the potential liability of slick parking lots and sidewalks.  Failing to deal with snow and ice can result in serious accidents and injuries to customers or employees.  Ping’s is now offering reliable snow removal services. When the snow falls, Ping’s will take care of it for you so you don’t have to worry.

There’s no doubt about it – winter can be a dangerous time in central Indiana.  But if you are prepared and sensible, you can keep yourself safe.  Ping’s is happy to serve you at this time of the year and lessen your risks when we can.  Call us at 317-298-8482 for more information about our services or to make an appointment.

Emergency Tree Service

emergency serviceIndianapolis may not be in tornado alley, but we do experience our fair share of large summer storms.  Most of the time, these storms have heavy winds and rain that can wreak havoc on our trees and shrubs and may require emergency service.  It’s not uncommon for trees to lose many limbs, have lead branches break, or even have an entire tree uproot and crash down on a structure.

So, what should you do if a tree falls on your home?  That’s the exact question one of our customers asked himself after the last big storm.  Standing in his front yard, looking up at the massive tree that crashed through the side of his house, he was completely at a loss of what to do next.  Of course, he made sure everyone was safe, called 911, and then called his insurance company.  Their advice was to get the tree off the house immediately.  But how do you do that in the middle of the night?  The insurance agent suggested to call a company with Emergency Tree Service.

Our customer, who was unaware tree service companies even offered emergency services, was relieved he could get immediate help.  Not all tree service companies offer emergency service to residential and commercial properties, but Ping’s Tree Service does.  We work around the clock to handle any emergency tree service needed.  Our crews are on standby during every storm and are ready to help.  We have all the equipment to get your tree down quickly and safely, including a large crane to remove even the most massive tree in our service area.  So next time a storm blows through the Indianapolis area, don’t panic.  Simply call our office at 317-298-8482.  We’re here to help you make sure your property is once again safe after experiencing storm damage.

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Winter Is Coming!


Fortunately we missed out on Winter Storm Jonas and the massive amounts of snow it dropped on the east coast. However, winter is not over yet. Even though we had a little warm up this week, meteorologists predict that February is going to be a very snowy month for us here in the Indianapolis area.

Winter storms and heavy snow can cause severe stress and damage to trees. If your trees experience damage from these types of storms, there are a few things for you to consider.

  1. Assess the Minor Damage. If your trees have acquired minor damage with only the smallest branches being injured, then generally there is no major threat to the tree. You may need to clean up the broken twigs and branches or have the crown thinned of bent or twisted limbs. But overall, the tree shouldn’t be in danger or distress.
  2. Asses the Major Damage. Tree damage that consists of large broken branches, missing bark that has been torn off, or trunks that are splintering can be signs of major damage and pose a risk to the health of your tree. That tree may require more maintenance or may need to be removed. A certified arborist is able to evaluate the health and safety of your tree in this situation.


Note: If it has been determined that the tree is not worth saving, have it removed as soon as possible. Leaving the tree to die can result in it becoming a hazard tree which increases the risk to yourself and the tree crew that will remove it. Increased risk requires special tools and techniques to safely remove the tree and will therefore increase the cost of the tree care work.

So whether it’s minor or major damage, take time to do a quick evaluation of your trees after a winter storm. If there is any damage, we’d love to help. Ping’s Tree Service offers a FREE Estimate on pruning, trimming, and tree removal services.


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