This winter has been the worst in recent memory for the amount of snow that has lain on branches of trees and shrubs for a considerable length of time. This can have a devastating effect on the health and look of a plant.
Evergreens are particularly susceptible to breaking given the amount of foliar surface they retain in the winter that can collect snow. Ones with relatively weak branches, such as white pine, can sustain major breakage, and ones that provide important visual screens, such as arborvitae hedges, can be flattened.
We recommend not only knocking the snow off the branches as often as possible, but also, such as in the case of arb hedges, securing the branches or trunks with wire. The tops of arb hedges can also be tapered to shed snow, as another preventive measure.