juniper branch broken from ice damage

Broken branch on juniper from ice damage

Updated: March 1, 2023

The death of one branch or scattered dieback throughout a tree or shrub may be the result of mechanical damage (damage caused by equipment or a weather event) to branches or damage to the lower part of the trunk. 

Severe bark or trunk damage restricts a plant’s ability to transport water, nutrients, and food.

Causes of Damage

  • Lawn mowers, tractors, and string trimmers are the primary cause of mechanical and lower trunk damage to plants. Trees and shrubs planted near parking lots, sidewalks, driveways or roads are also vulnerable to damage from cars or foot traffic bumping into them.
  • Branch or lower trunk damage opens the tree or shrub to disease and insect organisms, which may further damage the plant.
  • Excess mulchplanting too deeply, and animals such as rabbits and voles can also damage the lower bark on trunks of trees and shrubs.
  • Storm damage.
juniper with ice broken branches
Snow and salt were dumped on this juniper planting causing long-term root and physical damage.


  • Small amounts of damage can be tolerated but repeated damage that results in large masses of scar tissue is a serious problem.
  • Prevention is important because damaged bark or branches cannot be reattached or repaired.
  • Trunk damage and mechanical injury can be avoided by maintaining mulch rings around ornamentals and keeping weeds down to a minimum.
  • Prune out broken branches as soon as possible. Contact a licensed tree professional for larger trees or shrubs.

Rev. 2019