UF experts offer tips for tree, lawn survival post-Irma

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As property owners and managers clean up lawns and trees in the wake of Hurricane Irma’s wind and rain, University of Florida experts offer several tips for tree planning and recovery and lawn improvement.

Michael Orfanedes, a commercial horticulture agent at the UF/IFAS Extension Broward County office, said it’s important to get input from a certified arborist before deciding what to do with your damaged trees.

“If your tree blew down, it most likely did so because its root system was insufficient to hold the canopy erect during high winds,” Orfanedes said. Researchers and Extension faculty suggest resetting uprooted palms and trees only after they have been examined for safety and deemed worthy of replanting. For hardwood trees, if a majority of major anchor roots have been fractured, it is unlikely that such trees will successfully reestablish themselves, and they will likely fail in future storms. Uprooted trees and palms in good condition should be replanted as soon as possible and watered frequently.

Among his other tips, Orfanedes says:

  • Remove broken, cracked limbs and those that are dangling in the canopy, waiting to fall. These could pose a liability to people and/or possessions in the fall zone. They could also become projectiles in future storms. When removing broken limbs, make a clean cut, cutting back to an intact lower limb whenever possible.
  • Broken tree limbs in or near electrical wires need to be reported to the utility company as soon as possible. Only trained utility line clearance crews should attempt to do such work.

 

  • Hire only those tree-care professionals who can provide proof of licensing and insurance. If an accident happens while an unlicensed uninsured worker is on the job, the property owner could be liable for damages.
  • For more information about tree pruning, click here.

UF/IFAS researchers and Extension faculty provide a wealth of information to homeowners and tree-care professionals who manage damaged trees after a storm.

For instance, while many types of palm trees may perform well in storms, a hurricane can damage even the most wind-tolerant palms, according to a UF/IFAS Extension document. If the trunk of a single-stemmed or solitary palm, such as a sabal or queen palm, is broken below the canopy, cut the trunk as close to the soil line as possible, UF/IFAS researchers say, as these stems will not regrow. When time allows, the stump left behind should be removed or ground out. If the palm is a clustering palm, such as an Areca, cut the broken stems in the cluster as close to the soil line as possible. New stems will emerge near the soil line with such palms.

As for flooded lawns, Laurie Trenholm, a UF/IFAS professor of environmental horticulture and a turfgrass specialist, said many times submerged lawns will sustain root diseases.

If you find out certain parts of your lawn are too diseased, you might consider replacing those areas with a different kind of grass or with some other kind of plant, Trenholm said. Bahia grass might be a good choice because it generally sustains fewer diseases than other warm-season turfgrasses, she said.

“Irrigating, mowing and fertilizing appropriately will help to make your grass the healthiest it can be when it’s under any kind of stress,” Trenholm said.

 

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By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

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