Be Prepared with These Landscaping Safety Tips for Hurricanes
For most Floridians, hurricane season means preparing our homes for the potential damage that comes from heavy rains and high winds. Oftentimes, however, we overlook a very important part of our homes and neighborhoods, and doing so can have disastrous results. That often-forgotten place is right outside your front door – your landscaping.
Just like the roof over your head, the trees and plants surrounding your home and dotting your community can be devastated by storms. And even worse, landscaping that hasn’t been properly tended can become a source of flying debris, creating significant damage and injury.
This hurricane season, start your preparations from the outside in. Below are 13 quick fixes you can make where your landscaping is concerned that will help you weather the storm as safely as possible.
1. Look at your trees from top to bottom.Trees can be a major source of destruction during a storm, but that doesn’t have to be the case if you see to a few things before the storm winds kick up. If your property has palm trees, start by removing all of the coconuts. During storms, coconuts can become dangerous projectiles. Dead or brown fronds, as well as any debris lying at the base of the tree, should be removed for the same reason.
2. Switch to mulch.Having gravel in your plant beds isn’t exactly safe during a storm. Consider switching to mulch before hurricane season starts – that way, when the heavy winds and rains come, you will be dealing with ground cover that dissolved, not spread out all over your yard.
3. Clean your gutters.Cleaning your gutters is important year-round, but especially so during hurricane season. It’s particularly important to make sure your gutters are free of debris when a storm hits. The last thing you want when the heavy rains come is to deal with clogged gutters. When the weather is good, spray your gutters with a hose. Installing screens and protective guards can also help you keep your gutters clutter free.
4. Keep the good stuff.Before the storm hits, you want to make sure you harvest what you like from your flowerbed and veggie patch. Why leave your beautiful blossoms and tasty vegetables at the mercy of a hurricane when you can enjoy them from the comfort and security of your home?
5. Keep your building tree-free.If you live in a building, keep an eye out for tree limbs that are too close to the building as they pose a potential hazard. During high winds, tree branches can break windows and/or create holes in your roof, both of which are costly to repair. Talk to your landscaping company about pruning trees so that they stay well away from your building.
6. Take out the trash.Remove all green debris from your property and curb lines. Look for downed palm fronds, fallen leaves and branches on the ground. Removing this debris will help keep storm drains from getting clogged and remove possible projectiles from your yard.
7. Shut down your irrigation system.Before a storm hits, make sure that all of your irrigation system controllers are shut off so that the system doesn’t come on during a storm. To protect the system against damage from lightning strikes or power surges, unplug the controller or shut down its power source.
8. Watch those power lines.Scan your property for any power lines. If you see any branches close to them, consider having your professional landscaper trim the branches. They can become a major hazard during a hurricane.
9. Bring potted plants and lawn ornaments inside.Potted plants will likely flip over in high winds, damaging both the plant and planter. Of course, they can also become airborne and damage other property. Bring them inside, along with any gazing globes, bird feeders, wind chimes and other lawn ornaments. Be sure to protect and store any lawn or patio furniture as well.
10. Crown-thin hardwood trees.Dense, thick hardwood trees are beautiful, but all of that tight foliage can act as a wind sail of sorts during a storm, effectively lifting the tree out of the ground when winds pick up. Crown thinning will allow the air to pass through the tree, minimizing the chance of it being uprooted.
11. Protect ornamental trees.Ornamental trees can be especially vulnerable to high winds. Prior to a storm, install or reinforce any strapping and tree stakes on your ornamental accent trees. Plan ahead and buy a few extra stake kits to stand them up as soon as it is safe to do so.
12. Be prepared for post-storm insects.After a storm, insects will be actively looking for food and shelter. Stock up on bug spray for both crawling and flying insects that will likely be looking for a new home. Mosquitoes will be particularly active in the days following a storm. After a storm, eliminate sources of standing water around your home, if possible, to limit mosquito activity. If standing water cannot be eliminated, treat it as soon as possible to avoid it becoming a mosquito breeding ground.
13. Consult a professional.If your property is managed by a professional property management company, they have likely already connected you with a reliable landscaping company. Your property management and landscaping professionals will be able to provide more insight on how to prep your yard and common areas within your community for storm season.
Storms, especially in Florida, are inevitable, but a lot of the damage doesn’t have to be. An easy way to minimize the potential damage caused by flying yard debris is by prepping your landscape for the storm. A quality property management company can help spearhead these efforts – and save you considerable devastation in the process. For more information, contact FirstService Residential, North America’s premier residential property management company.