Florida sees a lot of severe weather; especially from June 1 – November 30. Whether it is storms, winds, hail or hurricanes Florida braces for it during these 6 months. According to Robert Garcia, the National Weather Service meteorologist, Florida reportedly experiences the highest frequency of tornadoes per square mile in the US. Natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes can cause complete devastation of homes, neighborhoods, landscapes and forests in the blink of an eye.
Just like you can safeguard your home through “windstorm mitigation” techniques, similarly you can prepare your landscape to better withstand strong winds and rain that is inevitable during hurricane season. Taking care of your landscape and maintaining it well around this time of the year will help it survive the storms. That really is the difference between minimizing damage and enduring a total loss to trees, beds and gardens. Wilcox Landscape & Nursery offers 5 tips to strengthen and prepare your landscape for hurricane season.
- Prune and Maintain Shape of Trees And Plants
Trees that have been properly maintained are more likely to stand strong against the ravages of nature. Proper tree pruning is absolutely vital in spring to prepare them for coming storms and strong gusts of wind during hurricane season. Both young and old trees need proper pruning and canopies have to be thinned out, which greatly reduces the surface resistance of the tree so they can stand up to heavy winds during a storm. Do not mistake the harmful practice of ‘Lion tail’ cuts for proper thinning. Low-hanging branches and dead limbs need to be removed. Check for signs of rot or decay at the base of the tree to ensure that the foundation is not weakened.
- Pick Wind-Resistant Trees and Plants First
Seeing the devastating damage from Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the University of Florida undertook detailed research on the kind of trees that can withstand gale-force winds and hurricanes. Prepare your landscape for thunderstorm or hurricane season by planting trees that are more wind-resistant. Some of the top wind resistant species of trees in Florida are Southern magnolia, Live oak, sand live oak, myrtle oak, certain hollies bald and pond cypress, Cabbage Palm and many other good selections. It is also better to avoid most fruit trees, sand pines, laurel oaks and sycamore trees where they can damage property or people as they are more likely to experience damage during a storm.
- Plant Trees in Groups
Be smart and plant trees and bushes in groups instead of planting a single specimen tree. Groups of five or more trees planted about ten feet or less from each other are less likely to be blown over. The tree roots grow and interlock to reinforce and strengthen the adjacent trees. If you do not have the space to plant many large trees, then cluster together some large shrubs within a few yards of any large tree that you plant to help it withstand strong winds better.
- Stake Young Trees and Plants
Stake new trees, including fruit trees and shrubs, with straps or dowels to prevent wind rock and root movement when the plant is getting established. There are a number of staking methods, such as single stake, double stake or angular stake that you can opt for depending on the type of tree, tree size and method of planting. All stakes should be placed deep in the soil to at least 60cm (2ft) depth or else it will not be able to anchor the plant properly. A newly planted tree takes at least 18 months to 2 years to firmly establish itself in the soil. Check and replace stakes when they fail or are broken, especially as you prepare for hurricane season and after a storm.
- Use Trees to Protect Your Home
Homeowners may feel nervous about planting trees near their home because of the fear of falling or uprooted trees during storms. But there are multiple benefits to having healthy trees in a landscape which outweighs the risk of them falling. Your landscape can help protect your home by taking the brunt of the storm on your behalf. The right plants and trees can be used to provide protection and can potentially either reduce hurricane impact on our structures or provide an extra margin of safety. The goal is to diminish the wind velocity that actually impacts your home. If the storm is packing winds over 100 mph, you will want to decrease that to 40 mph or below. This can be done with the right type and quantities of wind-breaking trees and shrubs, strategically located around the home in the most vulnerable areas.
Don’t Wait; Stormscape Your Home Today!
While hurricane season runs for 6 months, you will want to start planning today. If you’d like to purchase storm tolerant trees, palms or other plants for your own yard or update your home’s landscape, then drop by at Wilcox Landscape & Nursery. We have a wide selection of trees ideal for Florida weather. To take a proactive approach and prepare a hurricane-ready landscape get in touch with us at 727-219-9549.