If there’s one thing that puts a gardener on edge, it’s the threat of a hurricane or tropical storm. Your landscape and gardens are your oasis, your happy place… The threat of a storm wiping that all out in a day is depressing… Follow our guide for some sensible ways to prepare your garden and landscape for a hurricane or tropical storm. It may help you to methodically enter hurricane season and avoid panicking at the last minute.
Notice that most of my suggested storm preparations can happen in the spring time. It’s not wise to wait the last minute to hurricane prep your yard and gardens. Trust me, I’ve done it. Getting a jump start on what you can ahead of time will free up time to make sure you have your household hurricane supplies and plan in place.
Prior to the start of hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 – November 30, I recommend taking some precautionary measures for hurricane garden and landscape prep.
If there is any tree work that you need done – dangling branches, dead trees, suspicious markings that could be rot or damage to a large tree – get it on your tree service’s schedule. Once hurricane season starts, arborists often get really busy with folks who are panicking about unsafe trees. Couple that with summer’s short days from torrential downpours and you’re not likely to get an appointment next week. Remember, if you are having a tree removed, or need a protected tree pruned, chose a ISA Certified Arborist.
Clean Up Woody Plants By Your House
Prune back any shrubs within at least 3 feet of your house. Those thin branches may be fine 95% of the time, but when they’re blowing from an 80 mph wind, they might just break a window or even damage your roof or gutters. If you aren’t planning to use this brush for something, get rid of it. Loose brush laying around can become a projectile in high winds.
Do the gutters need to be cleaned out? Is the water exiting your downspouts and moving away from your house? Are there low spots that fill with water and don’t drain? You might consider some drainage solutions now before it becomes a problem with 10 inches of rain from a tropical system.
Try to Stay on Top of Maintenance
General maintenance is easy to let slip through the cracks but it will add up to hours once you need to clean it up.
- Collect any loose brush or trash that accumulated over the winter and dispose of it.
- Stash away your firepits and other items you won’t use over the summer.
- Clean out your garage and/or your shed. If there’s a hurricane and you need to put your plants indoors, there should be space for them.
Will My Plants All Die?
I get this question a lot. Some probably will but that’s a risk that we take living in Florida. Here’s a few things that you can do to help increase their survival chances.
Bring smaller plants indoors. Any potted plant that is in a small pot and light enough for you to move should be brought indoors if possible. If you cannot, place them together in a protected corner of the house or fence.
Larger pots can be turned on their side or moved indoors if you can lift them. We take our potted fruit trees and 7+ gallon nursery pots and lay them down on their side in a protected area between our fence, a hedge, and the shed. This helps minimize the possibility of wind whipping the branches around.
Some pots that are so large that you cannot move them or turn them on their side. You might just need to cross your fingers for these ones. If possible, take cuttings or remove some babies or seeds from the plant so you can propagate more if it dies.
I like to shore up my trellises and arbors by making certain they are firmly anchored in the ground. If I have flimsy trellises, I might remove them and carefully lay the plants on the ground. The trellis can be replaced after the storm passes; many plants will be safer on the ground.
How to decide to shore up or remove the structure? Some trellises and arbors are large and are very sturdy. For example, my cattle panel arbor isn’t going anywhere. The plants on it now are fairly delicate and may get wind whipped, but that arbor isn’t going anywhere. I will make sure that all of the straps holding it to the posts are secured and tight, replacing some if needed. The 4-foot push in trellis I got from Lowes that’s supporting a tomatillo plant… that’s going into my shed. That’s easily pulled out of the ground and tucked away.
Know Better, Do Better
The next time you buy a plant, consider both the wind tolerance and the location you’re planting it in before planting it. We look for wind resistant trees and large shrubs. Florida folks, a great place to look for this info is at the Florida Native Plant Society. This link will take you to a search of hundreds of native plants. While there is not a filter category for wind resistance, it is one of the pieces of info provided about each plant. If you’d like help designing a landscape for wind resistance, message us today! Serving the Tampa Bay area.