Preparing your Landscape for a Hurricane
As you are doing hurricane preparation, don’t forget to look outside in your landscape. There are several things you can do before the storm to reduce the damage.
Before the Storm
- Prune your trees: Remove any dead trees or branches, crossing limbs, and diseased trees or branches. Focus initially on any trees or branches over the house or leaning towards it. Thin overly thickcanopy to allow wind to pass through the trees. Maintain a balanced canopy. If possible, remove codominant stems which are at risk for splitting during storms and causing property damage. Do not cut the branches back to stubs since long, natural limbs are stronger. Do not do a hurricane cut on palms (only a few fronds on top) – this does more harm than good.
- Remove possible flying debris: Bring in any empty pots, pruning equipment and lawn mowers, trash cans, birdhouses and bird baths, and potted plants. Lay heavy bird baths on the ground. Also lay heavy potted trees on the ground facing away from the strongest winds. Wrap cushioning material on expensive, fragile pots. Use bricks or wooden blocks to keep them from rolling. You can also tie them down.
- Have a plan for patio/lawn furniture: If you have a pool, throw them in since the water will protect them. If you don’t have a pool or a garage, tie them to sturdy trees like live oaks. Turn any outdoor tables upside down so the wind doesn’t catch it. Secure your grill by tying it to a tree or bring it in. You want to have it handy in case of a power shortage for food preparation.
- Evaluate your vegetable garden: Harvest any vegetable before the storm. Remove any container plants or place on side and secure. If possible, remove trellises or cages on vegetables or stake them down. Turn off the irrigation system in case of a break.
After the Storm
- Assess the damage: Evaluate the damage first and take photos for insurance if needed. If a tree is toppled over, see if it can be put back upright and secured. Contact a certified arborist if you are unsure about the status of a tree. Many trees can be saved if they are only partially uprooted.
- Removing tree debris: Don’t top your tree! Remove any broken branches that are still attached; don’t yank it since it may strip the bark. Resist the urge to over prune. Take safety precautions when using chainsaws such as ear and eye protection. Don’t try to do it all yourself.
For more information on what to do following a hurricane visit UF/IFAS Tree and Hurricanes site or this blog on Handling Lawn and Landscape Problems after a Storm.