Preventive maintenance is key to preparing for storms. Even our thunderstorms can produce thirty, forty or fifty-plus mile per hour winds. But we are also now concerned with the possibility of a major hurricane making landfall somewhere in the Southeast. So it is time to prepare our landscapes.
Falling trees and flying landscape debris during a storm can cause damage. Evaluate your landscape for potential tree hazards. Pruning or removing trees once a hurricane watch has been announced is risky and tree trimming debris left along the street is hazardous.
An important preventive measure is to periodically inspect trees in the landscape. Look for and correct obvious problems. Dead trees and broken, dead or decaying limbs can threaten human life or increase property damage during a storm.
Professional help sometimes is your best option when dealing with larger jobs. Property damage could be reduced by having a professional arborist evaluate unhealthy, injured or questionable trees to assess risk and treat problems.
Hiring a certified arborist can be a worthwhile investment. To find a certified arborist in your area contact the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) at 888-472-8733 or at www.isa-arbor.com. You also may contact the Florida Chapter of ISA at 941-342-0153 or at www.floridaisa.org.
If you have hanging baskets or large potted plants outdoors, they should be moved indoors ahead of the storm. Other loose items that can be hurled about, such as lawn furniture, garden tools, toys and garbage cans, also should be brought inside before strong winds strike. These items may be damaged or destroyed or possibly become damaging flying objects during a hurricane.
Before and after a storm, keep in mind that tree removal requires considerable skill. A felled tree can cause damage to the home and/or property. Before having any tree work done, always make sure you are dealing with a tree service that is licensed, insured and experienced.
More information on tree storm damage prevention and treatment is available online at http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/woody/stormy.shtml or from the UF/IFAS Extension Office in your County.
Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent, Okaloosa County, September 5, 2017