A snowplow removes snow from a driveway on a Colorado property.

How to Protect Your Trees from Snowplow Damage

Living in the Evergreen, Colorado, area means that snowfall is guaranteed each winter, but that doesn’t mean that your trees have to suffer.

Here at LAM Tree Service, we have seen too many trees damaged by snowplows and piles of snow when much of the damage could have been prevented.

In this article, we’ll go over some simple steps you can take now to protect your trees this winter.

Flexible and visible driveway stakes are placed around a driveway, rocks, and a sidewalk on this Evergreen Colorado property.

Add Driveway Stakes

The simplest and most effective way to prevent your trees and shrubs from being damaged from snowplows is to add driveway stakes.

These stakes allow a snowplow driver to tell where your driveway is, so they can plow in the correct area.

These stakes are available for purchase online from several retailers and can also be found at your local hardware store.

Look for driveway stakes that are:

  • Flexible – They will be struck over time. Many are made out of fiberglass.
  • Durable – You want them to last for many winters.
  • Visible – Many have reflective tape so they can be seen even in dark conditions once the headlights hit them. Some newer models have LED lights for even more visibility.

You may also want to look for these features:

  • A variety of colors to differentiate different areas (sidewalks, mailboxes, curbs, speed bumps, fire hydrants, etc.)
  • Arrow-tipped to easily pierce the ground
  • Tall and large enough to be visible and last a long time

Where to place driveway stakes

There are three main areas in which to place the driveway stakes that will be most helpful for you and for the snowplow driver.

  1. The entrance to your driveway (both sides). This prevents the driver from driving over your lawn.
  2. Any curves in the driveway. This alerts the driver to any changes in the landscape and where to use caution. If you have a long driveway, it’s a good idea to place driveway stakes along the driveway at several points, even if the driveway is straight. This can help guide the snowplow driver and ensure they don’t get off-course.
  3. Endpoints of the driveway. Not all driveways end at a structure such as a garage, so marking where exactly the driveway ends is important. Be sure to include all endpoints so the full driveway can be plowed.

Note that you may also want to add stakes near objects such as curbs, mailboxes, planters, or signs. Place the stakes one foot away from the object when possible.

Even if you don’t currently have a snow removal company that you work with, driveway markers are still useful. When we get one of our large Colorado snowfalls, it can be close to impossible to tell where your driveway is.

At LAM Tree Service, we’ve received calls from homeowners who returned from out of town to more than 3 feet of snow covering their property. If they don’t have driveway stakes, we can’t help them. Without something marking the location of a driveway, chances are high that the landscape would be ruined or the driver would become stuck.

A small evergreen tree buried in a snow pile during winter in Colorado.

Add Parking Lot Stakes

Just as driveways benefit from being differentiated, so do parking lots. Parking lot stakes can be identical to driveway stakes. In some cases, they may be taller due to the amount of snow that can pile up over time.

Parking lot stakes should be placed at the entrances of the parking lot, the curbs, and the boundaries of the entire lot.

Also, place stakes near any signs or other obstacles that could potentially be hit and damaged by the plow.

Wrap Your Trees and Shrubs with Burlap

Wrapping your trees and shrubs each fall to prepare for winter can be helpful for a variety of reasons. It can prevent desiccation (drying out), deters many pests, prevents salt spray damage, and it can protect your trees and shrubs from heavy snow and ice.

If a tree or shrub is near an area that will be plowed during the winter, wrapping it in burlap can prevent some splitting from heavy snow loads. It can also protect trees, especially young or susceptible trees, from winter winds, sunscald, and hard frosts.

Wrap your trees or shrubs after the temperatures cool, and make sure any spray irrigation is turned off. Remove the burlap as soon as temperatures rise in spring so that your trees can benefit from the sunlight and begin the process of photosynthesis again.

Shrubs and small trees wrapped with burlap for winter protection on a Colorado property.

Build Wooden Frames

Using plywood or wooden planks, craft a wooden frame around your trees and shrubs. Doing so can protect smaller trees and shrubs, especially if they tend to get buried in snow piles.

Here’s a method for making wooden a-frames to protect your plants from This Old House (includes video) >>

How to build a winter shrub shelter from The Spruce >>

For more protection, you can add burlap to the “roof” of cube-shaped wooden frames or wrap it around the entire structure.

Communicate with your Snow Removal Company

Communicating with the company that handles your snowplowing before the first snowfall can prevent some issues. Perhaps there is an area where you prefer the snow not to be piled? While companies may not be able to honor every request, some communication is always better than none.

Keep Your Trees Healthy and Well-Watered

General tree health can improve your tree’s chances of surviving a snowplow encounter. A tree that has been well cared for, protected, properly pruned, and received adequate water is less likely to be brittle and sensitive.

Learn more about how to help your trees survive Colorado winters >>

Stakes line a Colorado road to define the edge of the road for snowplow purposes.

LAM Tree Service Provides Snow Removal Services

Snow plowing, shoveling, and deicing services are available for commercial and residential clients from September through May 1st. Most of the time, we are fully booked for the winter season, but you can always contact us for more information or to see if there is an opening.

Learn more about LAM Tree Service’s Winter Services >>

Read about the Benefits of Winter Tree Work >>