Landscaping for the 2015 Hurricane Season

Hurricane Landscaping

June 1st was the official start of the 2015 hurricane season.  The experts have weighed in and it looks like the North Atlantic basin is predicted to see approximately seven named storms, three of which may become hurricanes with wind speeds of 74 mph or higher.

It’s not too late to start your preparations if you haven’t already.  Begin with this hurricane preparedness article which provides helpful information on securing your home as well as links to hurricane kit checklists, emergency shelter locations, and other helpful resources.   The article provides tips on what to do before, during and after a storm to remain safe and minimize damage to your property. Here are a few additional landscaping tasks you can do in a weekend as an added precaution against storm damage.

Hurricane Landscaping Tips 

Prune trees and shrubs

There are multiple benefits to pruning trees and shrubs. Pruning can correct errant growing patterns and when performed on a dormant plant, often increases the number and size of branches for the next growing season.  Pruning is also a good way to prevent property damage in the event of a storm. Limbs that are dead or dying are more likely to detach from a tree in high winds than healthy, well-nourished limbs that can bend with the wind.  Trees that are too close to power lines, and trees that are near or hang over your home should be trimmed no matter what condition. Many homeowners prefer to call an expert for tree trimming and removal. It is especially critical to get professional help with trimming those branches that are close to power lines.

Use mulch instead of rocks     

If you use pebbles or rocks to control weeds in your plant beds, consider switching to mulch or bark.  Not only does this type of wood alternative return nutrients to the soil over time, it’s less of a dangerous projectile in high winds. Flying rocks can damage siding, windows, your car, and anything else on your (and your neighbor’s) property.

Hurricane Tolerant Plant Ideas

There are a variety of annuals you can plant that are known as “salt tolerant” meaning they can handle salt on their leaves better than most.  Even if you don’t live near the coast, sea spray can carry a long way on strong winds.  This can be fairly toxic to most plants.  Check this list of salt tolerant annuals to consider planting next spring.

Despite popular belief, not all palm trees are hurricane hardy.  For instance, the Queen Palm has shallow roots and can be uprooted more easily by strong winds.  The Washingtonia Palm and the Sand Palm have poor wind resistance and can be blown over as well.  Most other palms do well in high winds as a rule.  Despite its popularity in the Southeast, the Norfolk Pine consists of a brittle wood which can break easily, and due to its shallow roots is easily blown over. 

Consult this handy guide from the IFAF extension of the University of South Florida for more information on salt tolerant plants.