Preparing Trees for Hurricanes
Hurricane season is here and there is often a “knee jerk” reaction to take all the trees down from around the house. Perhaps we need to take some time and rethink this position because trees provide so much to us and the environment. If trees need to be replaced then let’s consider planting some tree with high to moderate wind resistance.
But, before I give you a list of trees to replant I want to mention we can make a good selection but do the wrong things to trees and alter their ability to withstand high winds. Over-pruning trees or using improper pruning techniques will directly alter the trees ability to withstand storms. Do not cut the top off the tree, no lion’s tail cut which generally removes the interior foliage. No over-pruning to “raise the canopy.” Be sure to call a certified arborist to prune trees.
Planting trees too deeply will show limb dieback on the tree very early. Trees should have a natural flare at the bottom of the trunk. Large roots should only be a few inches under soil.
Over-mulching – NO mulch volcanoes, mulch should only be 2-3 inches deep and never be close to the trunk of any tree of large shrub. Over-watering – we should not water trees and shrubs the same way we water grass. After a few years the trees and shrubs do not need irrigation unless we do through a drought period.
Remove grass from under the tree. Growing grass up to the trunk of the tree is a problem as the two have different water and fertilizer requirements. Grass and trees are terrible partners. Often, the chemicals we apply to lawns should never be used around trees (metsulfuron). The things we do to grass we should never do to trees. Leave as large an area as possible with no grass. Planting large shrubs around the base of the tree is a poor practice. The general rule is to put nothing within the area of 3 times the diameter of the tree trunk. Consider the tree’s mature size – it will eventually become large.
Adding soil to the roots of the tree – even a few inches can cause a loss of air around the roots.
This following information was taken from research done by the University of Florida in 2005 titled, “Selecting Tropical and Subtropical tree species for wind resistance.”
- One of the most important findings is root space: the more root space a tree has, the healthier it is, meaning better anchorage and resistance to wind.
- Trees growing in groups or clusters were also more wind resistant compared to individual trees. This might be an especially good strategy for tree establishment in parks or larger yards. Especially significant for those green belted areas.
- Proper pruning should be considered an important practice for tree health and wind resistance
This list is not all of the trees but it will give you a good place to start: Highest wind resistance for North Florida:
Carya floridana, Florida scrub hickory; Conocarpus erectus, buttonwood; Ilex cassine, dahoon holly; Lagerstroemia indica, crape myrtle; Magnolia grandiflora, southern magnolia; Podocarpus spp, podocarpus; Quercus virginiana, live oak; Quercus geminata, sand live oak; Taxodium ascendens, pondcypress;Taxodium distichum, baldcypress; Butia capitata, pindo or jelly; Livistona chinensis, Chinese fan; Phoenix canariensis, Canary Island date; Phoenix dactylifera, date; and Sabal palmetto, cabbage, sabal.