hurricane damage

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.

Palm hurricane cut

Overpruning palms into a “hurricane cut” has not been shown to be effective. Photo credit: UF/IFAS.

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.


    A leaning, partially uprooted tree may recover if it is righted and its roots are covered back with soil. Photo credit: Beth Bolles, UF IFAS Extension

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.

6 Comments on “Preparing your Landscape for a Hurricane

  1. Pingback: Hurricane Irma Updates - UF/IFAS News

  2. Denise, I saw today that gas grills should not be stored in the house. I can’t find the reference.

    • I found this note on one article. Note: If you own a gas grill, you’ve got a tough decision to make. The propane tank is not safe for indoor storage; in the event of a storm-created house fire or other calamity, the propane tank could explode. Also, you don’t want to compound the problems created by a storm by having a leaking propane tank stored inside your home. On the other hand, a loose tank blowing around outside in a hurricane amounts to the equivalent of a bomb. About all we can say is: If possible, secure the tank outside as best you can. Look to stake it upright against the leeward side of a shed or against a retaining wall. Never store the tank on its side. Check here for more propane safety tips. (

  3. I read your recent article in the Gainesville Sun. I’m afraid that one of your comments might be misinterpreted. You mentioned that standing water would damage plants, which of course is true. However in the next sentence, you were quoted as saying that plants, such as roses, azaleas, camellias and milkweed were water-adverse. While it is certainly true that they would be damaged by standing water, those plants, ordinarily take more water than many other plants. It is hard to give a rose too much water in irrigation; azaleas wilt when we have a stretch with rain, and I have lost camellias from a lack of water. Milkweeds vary according to species. I just hope readers understood your intent.

    • This is true. Since it was a telephone interview, I was unable see what was printed before it was published. My intent was flooding/standing water rather than just a lot of rain. I still haven’t seen the article.

  4. Thanks, Denise. Your tips were very helpful. The local Wild Birds store did suggest leaving out one feeder if possible since birds seem to get very hungry during a hurricane.

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