Landscape Hurricane Preparedness

Fallen tree from hurricane damageBefore the Storm

Hurricane Season begins every year on June 1. With every storm, severe damage may be seen in the community and some trees may survive with only minor change. There are ways to reduce damage during any storm by following Preparing Trees for Hurricanes.

Homeowners and property owners can take preventive measures prior to a storm in order to assist their trees in growing stronger and becoming more resistant to damage.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, there are 5 suggestions for pruning a tree that will promote growth of strong branches:

  • Don't cut branches back to stubs. Long, natural limbs on a tree are strong and can withstand storm-like conditions. If a branch needs to be removed, cut it back to the main branch or to the tree's trunk.
  • Encourage a strong branch / trunk size relationship. Ideally, lateral branches should be no more than ½ to ¼ the diameter of the trunk.
  • Encourage good branch angles. For most deciduous trees, narrow angles between 2 branches signal a point of future weakness. A good rule of thumb for many deciduous trees is to keep the angles at 10 o'clock or 2 o'clock.
  • Maintain a stable center of gravity. The center of gravity for a tree should be over the trunk. Remove branches on the leaning side and encourage branch growth on the opposite side.
  • Remove rubbing branches, suckers, water sprouts and temporary branches.

After the Storm

After the storm has passed, many homeowners step outside to assess the situation. Many remove trees that may look damaged when really they can be saved. Doing the right thing after a tree has been damaged could increase the chance of the tree surviving. The Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service and the International Society of Arboriculture urge home and property owners to follow a few simple rules in administering tree first aid after a storm:

  • Don't top your tree!
  • Don't try to do it all yourself.
  • Remove any broken branches still attached to the tree.
  • Repair torn bark.
  • Resist the urge to over prune.
  • Take safety precautions.

For more information download the Arbor Day Foundation's First Aid Kit.

If a tree requires immediate attention, it is recommended that you hire a qualified arborist. They are recommended should a tree be leaning against wires, structures or trees, if utility lines or structures are endangered or if a chainsaw is needed. Qualified arborists can be found under the "Tree Services" section of most telephone directories. Find an International Society of Arboriculture certified arborist.

For more information on trees and hurricanes visit the University of Florida - Trees and Hurricanes or contact the Palm Beach Gardens Forestry Division at 561-799-4243.