Hurricane Preparedness for Trees

Thank goodness Hurricane Irene was easy on Central Florida compared to the devastation it caused up north.  I heard on the evening news last night that one northern city lost more than 700 trees.

As a homeowner, how many of you were actually prepared for this storm?  How were you prepared and when?  As you know, hurricanes not only produce strong winds that can cause havoc to us, our home, and our landscape, they can also produce torrential rains and subsequent flooding.

Florida has had more hurricane strikes than any other state, and yet because of the numerous variables that can affect their path, most homeowners in Florida tend to ignore them until it’s often too late to take any action.  Having lived in Florida for the last 30+ years, of which most of that time as an ISA Certified Arborist, I’ve seen many instances where homeowners could have avoided problems.  Let me pass on to you a few suggestions for you to consider:

  1.  Any winds in excess of 35 mph can damage any trees.
  2. Fast growing trees are more susceptible to breakage during a storm than slower growing ones.
  3. Preparations for the hurricane season should actually begin when you select and plant a tree on your property.  It’s important that you get the right tree for your site and, except for palms, trees should be planted at least 25’ from your house.  And remember the importance of after care, especially watering, fertilizing, and pruning.
  4. Periodically check your trees’ health.  Do you see any dead wood, broken, hanging or crowded branches?  If so, remove them.  Any dead or dying trees should also be removed.
  5. Check your homeowner’s insurance policy regarding trees.  You may be rudely surprised.
  6. If a storm is eminent within the next 24 hours, make sure that anything that can be blown around; such as potted plants, hanging baskets, wind chimes, bird baths, banners/pendants, trash cans, etc., etc., are either secured or stored away.
  7. If a storm strikes and causes any newly planted or young trees to blow over or lean, try straightening them as soon as you can.  Be careful not to damage their root system.  Minor pruning may also be required to remove any broken branches.  You may also want to fertilize them with a slow release fertilizer to encourage new growth.
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About AskthePlantMaster

I have 50 years of horticultural experience, am currently a Master Gardener in Central Florida. In addition, I'm a Horticulture Instructor and retired Parks Manager and Arborist. I love plants and would love to help you with yours!
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