Having greenery in a winter landscape is refreshing, especially when winter starts to get dreary. After the last couple snows, I appreciated it even more: I had never realized that evergreens were sticking their necks out by keeping their leaves all year round.
I used to see pines like this one with only a muffin top of foliage and wonder why all the lower branches were broken off.
During the last snow a friend explained to me that snow loads snap branches, especially when the snow is wet.
He pointed out this pine skirted with broken branches.
Close by there was another with damage.
It had only been snowing for a few hours.
Snow can help prune dead branches from a tree, but it can also take huge healthy limbs.
The new losses made the old ones more obvious. To prevent disease, broken branches will be cut back to the branch collar.
Although the pines seemed to be the most affected, no evergreen species in the cemetery was immune. There was damage to arborvitae, pine, spruce, holly... Here's a blue atlas cedar with a snapped limb. There was even a tree that was entirely uprooted by the big snow we had.
Sometimes snow weight will simply bend braches without causing any breakage. It can also splay the more shrub-like evergreens. When the snow melts, some branches will spring back to their former position. (Thanks for the photo, Art.) As another wet snow falls today, I'm thinking of my favorite evergreens in the cemetery. There are some ways to prevent damage, but with the number of big trees in Green-Wood, there's nothing to do but let nature have its way.