Hurricane season started and that means people should be stocked up on batteries and bottled watered for the storm season. But people also should be thinking about preparing their yards. Not only does it protect homes and people, it could also reduce water pollution caused by stormwater runoff. Here are some ways to prepare your landscaping for a hurricane:
- Choose wind-resistant trees. Some trees are more wind-resistant than others so do research before adding new trees to the landscape. Suggested wind-resistant varieties include sabal palms and smaller palm varieties, such as pygmy date. Live oak and seagrape also have high survival rates after hurricanes.
- Plant in groups or masses. Planting groups of mixed trees together can greatly enhance wind resistance. The trees buffer each other as well as help protect property and other plants.
- Maintain throughout the season. Develop a regular maintenance schedule to trim and clean trees. The time you invest before a storm will save time cleaning up after one when there may be other more important priorities. Check trees for branches that are dying, damaged or weakly connected to the trunk. Prune them to promote healthy growth, to remove potential wind-carried projectiles and to reshape the tree to be more resistant to wind damage. Thinning or reducing the crown of the tree helps reduce trunk movement during a hurricane. If branches are large or high in the tree, it’s best to hire a certified arborist to prune.
- Don’t overwater. When trees are overwatered, the roots don’t have to venture far to satisfy their needs, and trees don’t develop strong root systems. Once established, most plants need only supplemental watering when it hasn’t rained for a while.
- Skip the fertilizer. If a hurricane, tropical storm or even a heavy rain is predicted, don’t waste time, product or money on fertilizing. Heavy rain can capture fertilizer and wash it into storm drains or directly into nearby water bodies.
- Remove irrigation system risers. Removing risers before a tropical storm or hurricane will dramatically reduce the amount of damage to them and underground piping. During riser removal, plug the riser bottom and open ground pipe with tape. This will greatly reduce debris entry and subsequent plugging of the irrigation system.
Sylvia Durell is a Florida-Friendly Landscaping coordinator for the Hernando County Utilities Department.