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Water Wednesday Recap – Landscaping Care Before And After A Storm

The Atlantic hurricane season extends from June 1 through November 30. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is predicting another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. Forecasters predict a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season, and a 10% chance of a below-normal season. However, experts do not anticipate the historic level of storm activity seen in 2020.

Water Wednesday in June is featuring Hurricane Preparedness.

  • June 2, Hurricane Preparedness, Read the Recap Blog
  • June 9, Emergency Water Supplies, Read the Recap Blog
  • June 16, Landscaping Care Before And After A Storm
  • June 23, Private Well Care Before And After A Storm, Registration
  • June 30, Septic System Care Before And After A Storm, Registration

This Water Wednesday, we invited the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Agent in Marion County, Ms. Amanda Marek to tell us how to prepare our landscape for this hurricane season.

Months Prior to Hurricane Season

It is highly advisable to have any questionable trees inspected by an ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) Certified Arborist. An arborist will look at the health and shape of your trees to help you determine potential danger to life and property. Trees that are deemed high risk should be removed or pruned back, particularly trees that are touching the house or that are within 15 feet of the foundation. Improper pruning, such as hurricane pruning palms or lion-tail pruning (also called hat-racking) trees makes them much more susceptible to damage and increases the likelihood of falling during a storm.

Days Before A Hurricane

Before a hurricane is predicted to hit, check the drainage around your property. Clear storm drains of litter and debris, clean out gutters, and be sure swales are properly mowed and free of any debris or plants other than grass. If you have a rain barrel, disconnect it from the gutter, empty it out and store it in a secure location such as your garage. Dispose of piles of debris, take down hanging baskets and flags, and secure trellises, lawn furniture and ornaments either on the ground or in a secure place where they won’t become potentially dangerous flying objects. And do be sure to turn off your irrigation system! Your lawn and landscape will be getting plenty of water in the coming days.

During A Storm

When the storm is here, it is critically important that you stay inside! Falling trees and destroyed plants may be heartbreaking to watch but trying to help them during the storm is both futile and highly dangerous to you. Don’t be fooled by the temporary calm and sunny skies that can occur while the “eye” of the hurricane is passing over you. Once the eye passes and the next wall starts to hit, the heavy rain and very strong winds will suddenly return from the opposite direction, potentially catching you off guard and putting you in great danger outside. Stay inside!

After A Storm

Once the storm has passed, assess the damage. Older, large, well-established trees and shrubs are unlikely to recover from being mostly or completely uprooted and are best to be removed. Younger trees and shrubs are much more likely to recover and should be replanted as soon as possible. Stake up re-planted trees and be sure to treat the plant like it’s new, keeping it watered regularly until it becomes re-established after 1-2 years.

Broken branches should be cleanly pruned to prevent tearing and be on the lookout for signs of root damage such as wilting and dropping leaves. Long-standing water can lead to root rot, and air pockets around roots should be filled in with soil and watered in. It’s also not unusual for plants to suffer windburned leaves or sunburn if the light conditions suddenly change, such as when a large shade tree falls. Most plants recover fine with time from windburn despite losing most of their leaves. Plants that experience a sudden change in sunlight may also lose leaves but will either adapt to the new conditions or should be moved to a shadier location.

Additional Resources

If you have any questions about preparing your landscape before a storm or need help recovering your landscape in the aftermath, feel free to contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Service.

Additional resources:

Watch the recording:

This blog article is contributed by Amanda Marek and Yilin Zhuang.