I think most here can imagine the damage that ice can cause to trees, but we still look for the beauty of it in the landscape. There are trees that the ice can really negatively effect because the wood is brittle by nature or the species has structural issues due to form.
Species such as many ornamental pears are poorly formed with weak crotches and the trees will split or lose substantial branching.
Others as Willow, Poplar, Birch, and Silver Maple sustain damage easily, and depending when ice hits, can be heavy with foliage. Pears retain leaves into winter longer than most other trees, and I have seen mine fully loaded well into January. There is a benefit to wildlife in this though. The seed berries retain on the tree to provide food.
Most mentioned above are fast growing and like the pear will split under the added weight. For conifers, like the pine, it is best not to try to remove the ice, the same as you would not want to remove ice from deciduous trees. More people seem to look at the conifers differently though, thinking they can withstand being whacked with a broom to dislodge the ice.
Trees are brittle in the winter and with the added rigidity of the ice, more likely will break more branches than can be saved. The tops of young conifers are often bent or broken off during ice storms. A new leader often will form if given the time and other damage is not too severe.
Cut the broken or bent tops just above the first live whorl. This will encourage a branch in the top whorl to become the new leader.
Broken limbs should always be removed first, being careful to not leave branch stubs which encourage rot and decay.
What you notice is that I dated the images. But what you don’t see, is in December 2011 that ice is on the trees only near the Falls. The mist forms the ice, but it is gone the next day if temperatures rise like they did in our area. It is Spring-like throughout the rest of the park as the ice melted by the afternoon on December 18.
In my post, Month In Tens, in addition to the theme for the month if one is announced, I am going to post the daily shot of the day with temperature and time included. Each Month in Ten post will have ten representative days pictured. So you will see how our weather fares during the year. Hopefully I can remember to keep doing it. I have the first six days cataloged so far.
Trees should never be topped because they will sucker with weak branches developing. It is better to allow side branching to grow and fill in the voids or regain form in top growth.
This image is directly across from the view of the Falls. Again the ice is aided by the mist.
This tree above has been flattened, but has lived here for quite some time. It is on a small patch of land right at the brink of the American Falls. Most of the winter, it is encased in ice. Today, it is still living fine, but it awaits the same fate. Some trees do weather these condition, but I am guessing not many. You can see it is very stunted by the thickness of the trunk in comparison to the canopy in the image below. Two below, the summer image of this tree.
Niagara Falls State Park 6 January 2012 45°, same tree as above and below. It has a tough life.
Tree in Summer 2011 with view from opposite side. It looks like a crabapple, but I will have to check that out.
Oh, and it is good to have the grass mowed to length before the ice sets in. Not that you will get ice like this, but it does occur occasionally, and walking on the ice clad grass is damaging to a lawn.
And you might consider hiring a professional to assess the damage and repair your tree. The little guy above may give you a nod for saving his tree. But if you want to tackle it on your own, here is a pdf that can be downloaded by the Ontario Extension. They have very detailed drawings to show you at what point a tree can still be saved and the care to take for repair of your damaged trees.
Shooting the Ordinary is the theme for Month in Tens this January. Please stop back on January 10th for the first 10 of Month in Tens.
And if you like the banner above in colorful words and want to try making your own, here is a site that you can do that. It is fun I am guessing, but I did mine in Photoshop, but all you do is add words and click. Hit Randomize and the words scramble all over the page. I thought you might like to try wordie.net. I will be back to a regular Garden Walk Garden Walk banner after this post.