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Arborists encourage homeowners to assess tree damage from ice storms

Ice forms on branches of trees as temperatures hover around freezing in Detroit, Monday, Feb. 27, 2023. Some Michigan residents faced a fourth straight day without power as crews worked to restore electricity to more than 165,000 homes and businesses in the Detroit area after last week's ice storm. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/AP
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AP
Ice forms on branches of trees as temperatures hover around freezing in Detroit, Monday, Feb. 27, 2023. Some Michigan residents faced a fourth straight day without power as crews worked to restore electricity to more than 165,000 homes and businesses in the Detroit area after last week's ice storm. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

As winter storms hit Michigan over the last week, they’ve taken out power for nearly half a million residents. But the storms also can hurt trees - which if left unaddressed, can damage homes and utility lines.

Ice is heavy, and when it coats trees, it can break branches and split tree limbs. That’s why arborists are encouraging homeowners to assess their trees for damage and to prune branches - before they come crashing down.

Bert Cregg is a horticulture specialist with the MSU Extension Service. He said tree damage so far hasn’t been as severe as after the 2013 ice storm, but pruning is essential for safety and the trees’ long-term health.

“Not always, but a lot of limbs we lose are diseased, dead, so the ice in a sense sort of cleans things out," Cregg said. "Now if you don’tget things pruned up properly, it can lead to more problems down the road.”

Cregg said pruning trees can be dangerous, and homeowners should err on the side of caution – and use a hardhat and eye protection or call a professional.

“It's easy to overestimate what you can handle when it comes to tree work, but trees are heavy, and it's really easy for things to go downhill in a hurry," Cregg said. "No shame in our game, no problem leaving it to a pro.”

For more information on pruning trees and ice damage, visit the MSU Extension page.

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