It may be difficult to entirely protect your home and yard from the strong winds of a hurricane, but there are certainly steps you can take to help minimize the damage. Here are five storm-wise landscaping tips to better prepare your property for a potential hurricane.
Whether plants survived or died after Sandy last fall depended on their salt tolerance, according to an expert at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, who said inland gardeners normally unaccustomed to hurricanes experienced salt damage when the storm carried salt spray many miles inland. A local agriculture expert or cooperative extension office can help you choose species that are tolerant to salt on their stems, leaves and roots.
According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), some trees are prone to more storm damage than others. For example, trees that are shallow-rooted in soft soil have a tendency to topple over in high winds. The roots get pulled out of the ground. Carefully consider the type of tree you plant in your yard, but also where you site it: The South Florida Water Management District says storm-wise planting should consider the mature height of the tree to avoid future interference with fences, buildings or power lines.
Thorough and frequent pruning will make your landscape look nice. But proper pruning is also a good way to prevent property damage in the event of a storm. IBHS suggests trimming dead, damaged or diseased tree limbs, and those that are too close to your home or near power lines. (Consider calling an expert for any work near a power line). Also, look around the yard for any cracked, hollow or decayed trees and have them removed to minimize the possibility of a strong storm uprooting them.
If you have rock or pea gravel in your flower beds or along paths around your yard, IBHS suggests you consider replacing the materials with shredded bark or other soft mulch. In high winds, small rocks can become projectiles, often breaking windows or damaging the siding of the house. Shredded bark is softer and less dangerous if caught in the wind.
If a tropical storm or hurricane is approaching, take care to bring anything that can be a potential wind hazard or projectile (toys, potted plants, lawn furniture, etc) inside. The South Florida Water Management District also suggests running a check of the yard to determine whether any debris in your swales or drainage systems might prevent water from flowing away from your property.