Toronto Tree Service FAQ

Ice Storm Tree Damage


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Ice Storm Tree Damage

With wild winter weather, you may worry if your trees will bear the brunt of ice storm tree damage. How likely is it that your trees may become damaged in a winter storm? If your tree has already been damaged, what do you do now?

If you’re looking for advice on ice storm tree removal in Toronto or tree damage after a winter wind, snow or ice storm, read on.

Ice Damage to Trees

Can snow and ice really damage tree limbs? Trees are made to stand up to nature, right? And usually, they do, but even in the wild, snow and ice can cause damage to trees. Urban trees are often starting out weaker due to lack of space, light, or soil nutrients. This can make them more vulnerable to winter storm damage.

Exceptional weather like heavy ice or snow and sudden temperature shifts from rain to freezing temperatures lead to extra stress on trees. Ice may build up quickly in some conditions. Winter storms are frequently accompanied by high winds, which can also cause limb breakage. Freeze-thaw cycles can also cause damage to tree bark.

How Much Ice Damages a Tree Limb?

Norway maple tree branch being pruned by toronto arborist in winter
tree pruning intoronto winter

So is there a specific amount of ice you should worry about? Unfortunately, we can’t tell you that if the forecast says 10 mm of precipitation your trees will be fine and you should start to worry at 25 mm. Generally, bigger storms cause more damage. If ice or snow on a branch is heavier, particularly thick ice and heavy wet snow, it’s more likely to damage a branch.

Trees that are already weaker are the most vulnerable. Newly planted young trees can be especially vulnerable in their first years, as can mature trees that are already suffering from damage or breakage. Trees of any age that have recently gone through a pest or fungal infestation are vulnerable as well.

However, the vast majority of trees come out of winter storms unscathed. It’s much more common for trees to lose a couple of small branches and twigs in high winds or ice storms. If this is the case, you can safely collect these branches from the ground yourself, as long as there are no larger broken or dangling limbs or falling ice.

Ice Storm Tree Removal

Some trees will meet their match in a winter storm. Winds, ice, and snow can cause large limbs and branches to break and fall, or trees to partially or fully fall down. If it’s already too late for your tree, call an arborist!

Not all arborists work year round, but many do, including Vista Tree! Arborists are available for all your winter emergency work. In some cases, they’ll be able to send a crew right away to deal with a problem like a tree fell on your house.

Tree and branch removals can be done year-round. If a storm is particularly bad or lengthy, we may need to wait for the weather to improve before we can safely do winter storm cleanup and removals. This can vary depending on the urgency of the problem and the weather.

How to Protect Trees from Ice Storms

Of course, the best way to avoid ice storm damage to trees is to prevent it from happening in the first place. None of us can predict or stop Mother Nature, but we can give our trees the best chance against it!

Keeping your trees strong and healthy means regular maintenance like annual pruning. This will remove and reduce weak or broken branches. Having an arborist prune your tree also lets them catch other undetected issues that could be treated. That can include weak limbs or early or hard to spot infestations. Fertilizing your trees in fall, spring, or both helps restore nutrients and strengthens tree growth over the next growing season. 

For young trees and thin-barked trees, tree wrapping can help protect tree bark in the winter. This minimizes the chance of bark damage down the road.

If you’re looking to protect from wind damage and ice damage to trees for next winter, it’s not too early to book in winter pruning or spring fertilizer and plant treatment services. If you have urgent emergency winter storm tree work, check out our contact information page today to fill out a request or for our emergency line.

author avatar
Michael Co-Founder
Michael is a Certified Arborist and founder of the company. He holds a Certificate in Urban Arboriculture (Honours) from Humber College, Certificate in Project Leadership from Cornell, has post-graduate studies in Urban Forestry and Arboriculture from Oregon State College of Foresty and holds a BAH in Ancient History with a minor in Business. In addition to being an ISA Certified Arborist, he is a TCIA Certified Tree Safety Professional, Tree Appraisal Qualified by Arboriculture Canada and holds a Landscape Exterminator license. Michael sat on the Board of Director for the Ontario Commercial Arborist Association in 2022 and 2023. He worked at some of the top arboriculture companies in Southern Ontario before starting Vista Tree Management. Before that, he was an award-winning Executive Director in the nonprofit sector and published marketing consultant. On the rare days off, Michael can be found at home with his family - a loving wife, two daughters and two cats in Central Toronto.
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Vista is an excellent company to deal with. The owners went above and beyond expectations to help deal with a unique situation. The guys who did the work were not only professional but also very polite. I will be using them again to help with other work in the future.
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We are very happy with all the work Vista Tree Management accomplished on our property.  James was very professional and gave us excellent advice concerning the trimming of our 12 foot cedar hedges and the pruning of our mature silver maple trees.  The crew was very friendly and hard working, they did a tremendous job on the work required and they did an excellent job with the clean up.  We would highly recommend Vista Tree services to our family and friends.  We will definitely use them again for all of our future projects.
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They just did my front lawn, and boy, did they leave a lasting impression!

They were straightforward with the plan - clear and precise, ensuring that I was well informed of the process and outcome. The execution was meticulous and exceeded my expectations. Moreover, the cleanliness post-service was remarkable, leaving no trace of debris or disruption.

They were on time and was the epitome of friendly and cheerful—felt like I had friends over for a garden party!

Overall, their service was excellent at every stage. The inquiry, consultation, customer support, day-of service, follow-up, and payment process were all seamless.

I had peace of mind and very happy with Vista. I highly recommend them to those in need of reliable and thorough tree management service.
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I can’t say enough positive comment about James and Vista Tree. We were “ghosted” by 2 other tree management companies last fall. James came by and provided separate quotes for two very large trees on our property, both of which were a challenge to severely prune. They were a hazard and had to be addressed. The quotes were delivered the next day after assessment. The team was here on two separate days (April 30 and May 7). They were efficient, professional and most importantly safe. Hollis, the arborist who climbed the trees was friendly and communicated everything he was doing to the trees as well as any changes he made once he was up in the tree. The other members of the crew (Syd and Pete, I can’t remember the others) were professional and friendly. They cleaned everything up and were open to any suggestions we had regarding disposal of the wood. I would highly recommend this company. We will be having them back again to do more work, in the fall.
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Leaside neighbours take note!! Exceptional and professional service from start to finish. The team at Vista Tree Management responded to an urgent and critical situation. They were efficient, skilled and courteous. They handled the tree removal with precision and left our backyard immaculate. I highly recommend this team for your tree removal needs. They beat the competition by $1000+
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James and his team did a great job pruning and trimming our old silver maple. James answered all my questions, provided expert advice and had his team do the work shortly after. The workers were professional, cleaned the space well, and were really efficient. Would definitely recommend Vista Tree management!
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James was great! Very professional and you can definitely tell he knows what he’s talking about. They provided a quote in a timely manner booked us in for the tree pruning within a few days afterwards. The job was done quickly, professionally and the crew was friendly and polite. They cleaned up everything once the work was completed. Highly recommend!
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Safe, fast, personable team - did a great job with tree trimming and removal! Note: the removal of a tree was not on the original scope and they still made it happen!
By the end of the day, I wouldn’t have even known they were there.
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Very Happy with the professional advice and service we received from Vista which was promptly done. The follow-up to ensure we were happy with the work was appreciated.
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Highly recommend! Michal came by first to take a look at things and provide the estimate. He’s obviously passionate about what he does and I learned a ton about my tree that I had no idea about! He gave me the confidence I needed to schedule the work. James and the “J-Crew” arrived on the scheduled day and were super friendly. The team did an amazing job with trimming my large overgrown maple and a fantastic cleanup job. My yard looked better than before they arrived. Will definitely have them back for future maintenance! Thanks Vista!
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Great service from a great crew of people! The team was amazing from consulting on best ways to tackle the project, safely removing the trees and making sure the job was done to satisfaction. Would highly recommend and definitely use them again.
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These guys are incredibly professional and by far the best arborist that have visited our home. And we've had many!

What impressed me the most was throughout their only concern was safety for my family and our property. With that and that only in mind they made all the cuts and changes that were required. When they left, I felt the most relief I felt about the trees in our backyard in a long time.

Truly appreciate your hard work and will highly recommend you in the future!
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After doing a fair bit of research into Toronto-based arborists, we decided to go with Vista, and are very happy we did! From my first meeting with Mike when he came to give us a free quote, I was impressed with his knowledge and professionalism. Mike and his crew were punctual on the day they came to prune the deadwood from our very large Red Oak tree, answered my questions, and worked for 7 hours straight to get the job done. We were impressed from beginning to end, and wouldn’t hesitate to hire them again!
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These guys are the best! Very professional, easy to work with and very nice people.
James was amazing in communication and and arranging everything. He is a wonderful person and professional. I had 4 different companies for the quotes and Vista Tree were the best by every criteria I had in mind. After the work was done they cleaned the whole territory even the mess that was here before them. I would definitely recommend them and will call them again when I need any tree work done. Thanks!

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