Preparing Trees for Hurricanes
Shade trees, such as the oak pictured above, should be trained to one dominant trunk well up into the canopy. This makes the tree strong against the forces of storms and less likely to uproot or fall over.
Hurricanes and tropical storms hit South Florida almost every year, often causing extensive damage to landscapes and trees. Luckily, there are ways you can easily make your home and landscape more hurricane-resistant, so that it's less likely to suffer as much damage during a storm.
Plant and Tree Selection
The best way to protect your landscape from hurricane damage is by planning what types of trees and plants you decide to put around your home. Choose species that are more wind resistant and plant them away from homes and other structures. Select trees from the nursery that have straight (not circling) roots, one dominant trunk and branches that are spaced apart from each other. If your trees don't have these attributes they should be pruned so that they do.
A tree more likely to survive storms is compact, with a low center of gravity, a strong trunk and a deep root system. The native oak is a great example of a strong Florida tree, given the right environment and care during its lifetime.
On the other hand, a more vulnerable tree during storms is one with a high center of gravity, a dense canopy, a decayed trunk, two or more trunks or shallow roots. Shallow roots result from shallow soil or a high water table. Tall, slender pine trees that were part of a forest before suburban development are most susceptible to storm damage. Pine trees usually rely on one another for wind resistance and support during storms. Without a group of pines, they are unprotected from storm damage. Consider removing tall, slender trees from your landscape and replacing them with trees that are known to be sturdier during storms. Existing trees with severed root systems from construction can also fail in storms by falling over. Consider getting a consultation from a reliable tree service company to discuss reducing their size or removing these weak trees.
Remember that any tree is more susceptible to toppling during a storm if it suffers from construction, damage to roots, poor growing conditions, small root zones and disease or insect problems.
Plant trees from the Highest and Medium-High UF/IFAS Wind Resistance list and match these to your property conditions. Make sure your trees have adequate rooting space with no obstructions like sidewalks, buildings, and streets. For small trees, there should be at least 10 feet of unobstructed area around the trunk; for large trees, provide at least 30 feet. Furthermore, consider planting trees in groups as opposed to individually as this will make them more wind-resistant.
Correct tree pruning is the most important part of helping trees survive hurricanes. Training young trees so they develop a sturdy, well-spaced framework of healthy branches along a dominant trunk is very important in South Florida. For trees larger than about 15 feet tall, hire a certified arborist like SaveMore Tree Service Inc to prune your trees before the hurricane season. They will remove dead branches that can fall on houses, cars, and people. Overly long branches should be shortened and branches with cracks or breaks should also be removed or shortened. Be sure to have your trees evaluated by a professional about every two years to maintain the health and safety of your trees!