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A beautiful established tree is a precious commodity here in Lubbock, a town that has almost no indigenous landscape worthy plant life outside of some flowers and grasses. In other words, you can pretty much bet the barn that if you see a tree in Lubbock, someone cared enough to plant it there and aid its growth in a fairly dry and hostile environment.

Trees offset urban heat islands and aid in cooling costs in the summer because they can shade buildings. Losing a good tree is heartbreaking. So what do you do if recent ice storms caused damage to your tree?

First off, don't try to shake snow or ice off your tree. It's dangerous for you and your tree.

Heavy snow and ice can make tree branches brittle. So, when you shake the weak limbs, you could actually break or snap the branches.

And they could break or snap off on your head. Additionally, if your tree is anywhere near a powerline, don't touch it at all, as it could catch fire. Instead, call your utility company's number, which is likely Lubbock Power & Light. If the branch is currently on a wire, use the emergency number 775-2509 and spare the rest of us the power outage as well.

A light dusting of snow can be brushed off gently with a broom to avoid build-up, and you can prune small, low broken branches yourself. You can also prop up or tie reachable branches to help mitigate damage. However, if the branches are already touching the ground, the ground is already supporting the weight of the branches. If you do tie your tree, be sure to remove the tie in spring so it doesn't scar your tree.

If the branches are big, heavy, or high up, call a professional. Don't attempt to use a ladder on icy, wet, or snowy ground; it's not worth a broken hip or head. Removing dead or weak branches before winter is also a really good idea to avoid property damage or extended damage to your tree.

Whatever you do, if you feel unsafe at all, call a professional. They have helmets, insurance, and expertise, of course.

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