The Houston area has been experiencing Arctic blasts that bring the region below-freezing temperatures, high winds and icy weather. Although the ice accumulations are not heavy and the cold weather does not stay long, their impact on our local trees, gardens and plants can be significant. To ensure the health and vitality of residential and commercial properties, it is important to have Certified Arborists and Landscape Professionals evaluate trees, landscape gardens and turf to assess damage.
Trees can be negatively impacted by even just a small amount of ice accumulation on leaves and branches. Ice can increase the weight of tree limbs and branches by up to 30%, leading to breaks that can harm the tree's long-term health and overall property value. Falling or drooping tree branches can also create costly and dangerous situations, such as injuring people or damaging power lines or utility poles. Even if ice does not lead to fallen branches, it can weaken tree limbs and decrease the tree's stability over time, leading to more serious issues later.
Landscape gardens and plants can also be harmed by even a light, short-lived ice accumulation. Plants and gardens subjected to icy weather, especially with rapid temperature fluctuations, can be damaged or even killed. When the water within the plant cells freezes and then melts in a rapid amount of time, the expansion of water can kill plant cells, resulting in additional costs to the property owner for removing and replacing the damaged plants. Although some property owners protect vulnerable plants and young trees with blankets or plastic coverings, not everyone knows to do this or has the opportunity to take such precautions.
Finally, icy weather can cause significant damage to irrigation systems on both residential and commercial properties. When water is trapped in sprinkler heads, the freezing temperatures cause the water to expand, creating cracks in the sprinkler heads. Icy weather can also cause cracks in the water supply lines, leading to flooding and unnecessary water usage and runoff. Additionally, nozzles on irrigation systems can also rupture due to water expansion in freezing temperatures, causing an improper spraying field during future uses.