An extreme winter season can cause great damage to some trees. Below are some of the specific reasons some trees suffer during the winter.

Frozen Ground          

If the ground is frozen, it becomes difficult for the roots to absorb moisture, nutrients, and air from the ground. If the freezing continues for a long time, the trees will lack the resources they need to thrive and can even die.

Temperature Fluctuations

Most solids, including tree trunks (basically wet wood), expand when heated and contract when cooled. The expansion and contraction can cause the bark to separate from the tree and even crack. The sun-facing sides of the trees are particularly vulnerable to such damages.

Freezing Fluids

Freezing temperatures may freeze the liquid saps within the tree tissues. These fluids will then expand and cause some of the tissues to burst. Extremely low temperatures that continue for prolonged periods cause the worst damages.


In people or animals, frostbite occurs when the body freezes and the tissues cannot get blood or oxygen. In trees, frostbite occurs when the tree tissues freeze and nutrient, water, and air intake is hampered. Prolonged frostbite can lead to permanent tissue damage that might lead to the death of the affected tree parts.

Ice and Accumulation          

In extreme winter, frozen ice and snow might accumulate on the tree and weigh it down. Too much snow and ice can even break some tree branches or cause the tree to lean. Such a tree is vulnerable to further damage, for example, from storms.

Salt Exposure

Many people use salt to get rid of snow during the winter season. Some of the salt dissolves in the water and seeps into the ground, raising the salinity of the soil. Unfortunately, this is bad for the trees because high salinity reduces a tree's ability to absorb water. In extreme cases of salinity, some of the tree roots might even lose water to the soil since salt is hygroscopic (attracts water).

Animal Attack

Lastly, the risks of animal attacks on trees also increase during the winter season. This is because many animals seek places to burrow during the winter and some animals choose trees. Not only that, but animal food also becomes scarce during the winter and many animals turn to trees to feed themselves.

Vulnerable trees, such as young trees, trees that have suffered damage in the past, or diseased trees, may be more vulnerable to winter damage than other trees. Have such trees inspected by an arborist after the winter season to see whether you can save them or you need to remove them.