All trees can be damaged by heavy, wet snow when still in full leaf. Trees that grow quickly, such as poplars, elms and willows, with deep v-shaped crotches also tend to be more brittle and prone to breakage. Trees that have leaves are more prone to collecting heavy/damaging snow loads than those that are fully dormant and bare.
Evergreens are especially susceptible since they never lose their full foliage. Protection of these types of trees starts with good tree selection and proper pruning.
Conical formed trees such as conifers withstand heavier snow loads, as well as deciduous with less branch area.
Always check your trees during snowstorms ‑ a few gentle shakes to remove snow can go a long way to preserve drooping branches. You can use a broom to reach and shake branches higher up, but do not shake too vigorously, it would be a shame to damage your trees while trying to save them!
Originally published on April 28th, 2010. Updated on April 30th, 2019.