Hurricane season in Florida is already in full swing and it causes us to ask the question “Am I hurricane ready?”. Considering the fact that it begins May 15 and ends November 30—more than half of the year—it’s important that it’s something you’re thinking about when it comes to planning your landscape.
Because we care about our clients and want them to truly get the most possible value out of their landscapes, we want to walk you through how to ensure your property is ready to withstand the worst possible weather conditions.
Thoughts During Installation
Thinking about a hurricane-ready landscape all starts with the installation planning. It’s important that you put thought into what you’re planting—and where you’re planting it. For instance, if you’re planting large trees on your property, you’ll want to ensure that they are a good distance from your home, power lines, or other structures that they could potentially damage if they were to fall.
It’s also important to choose wind-resistant species. Some wind-resistant species that have performed well on Florida properties include sabal palms and smaller palm varieties like manila or pygmy date. This research from the University of Florida and the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences examines wind-resistant species that will perform well in our area.
Before the Storm
When a storm is imminent, there are some additional steps you should take to prepare. For one, make sure that you or your landscape professional does an inspection of your property and removes any broken or dead landscape material (especially trees and shrubs) prior to the storm. Weakened plant material is going to be the most susceptible to uprooting or breaking.
In addition, you should also add these tasks to your hurricane preparation list.
- Move container plants, hanging baskets, yard sculptures, furniture, and any other loose item into a sheltered area. These may not only get damaged, but they can become flying projectiles during high winds. Take a good look around for anything lying in your yard—even children’s toys can become dangerous flying objects.
- Turn your irrigation system off. Your plants will receive plenty of water from the rain.
- If you’re able to, fit in one more mowing. It may be a long time before you’re able to mow again. Shorter grass also makes it easier to rake out debris once the storm has passed.
- Make sure that your gutters are firmly attached to your home and cleared of debris like branches and leaves. If you have heavy runoff areas, consider placing pavers over them to reduce soil erosion.
During the Storm – Hurricane Ready or NOT!
The best advice that we can offer during a storm is to take shelter! At this point, it’s no longer safe to be outside and worrying about your landscape. If you’ve prepared well, you shouldn’t have much to worry about anyway.
However, even if you forgot something, you and your family’s safety should now be your top priority. Any damage that occurs can be dealt with later.
After the Storm
Once the storm has passed, it is time to assess the damage and potentially begin cleaning up. However, it’s important to keep in mind that cleaning up after a hurricane can be dangerous. In fact, many jobs should be left to a professional.
Tree damage is the most dangerous concern and should be left to a professional. A pro will know whether a limb is potential in danger of falling and how to address it safely. The last thing that you want is to have a hanging limb fall on your house—or even worse, on you.
If a limb has fallen on a nearby power line, be sure to call your power company and report the accident. You should always assume that all power lines are dangerous and stay far away.
If you’ve lost trees and shrubs to a hurricane, then this is likely the perfect time to think about replacements that are better suited to survive a storm. You can work with your landscape professional to choose plant material that will help ensure your landscape is truly hurricane ready.
With some simple preparation and some advanced planning, you can feel confident that your landscape is ready for the worst. Hurricanes are part of life in the Florida area, but they don’t have to be detrimental to your property every time that they strike.