The winter is hard on trees, even those that are accustomed to cold climates. Stress caused by cold, drought, pests and branch breakage can take its toll. While you can't do much about the weather and icy temperatures, you can take steps to lessen their impact.
After a heavy snow, brave the cold and do your best to remove as much snow as possible from your trees' branches. Excess snow can cause branches to bend — which can cause damage — as well as break. Too much snow sometimes can even make the trees themselves bend and break. Remove snow using a broom or a similar tool to gently remove snow from tree branches. Use a broom in an upward, sweeping motion. You can also shake or tap tree trunks to remove snow, however, don't shake the branches — this may cause them to break. If the snow is frozen on the branch and will not brush off easily, it is best to let it melt naturally to avoid damage to the tree or shrub.
Remove snow from tree branches as soon as possible; as the longer the snow remains on your trees' branches, the more apt it is to freeze on the tree and remain there to do more damage.
If tree limbs break or sag under the weight of ice or snow, it's best to have them removed as soon as the weather permits. Hanging branches can be a danger to passing pedestrians. Also, the tree will be able to heal the wound better in spring if the wound has clean edges instead of ragged tears. Remove broken branches by hand, or if necessary, by using a hand saw or hatchet. Put all branches and plant material in yard refuse bags.