What Can I Do to Protect My Trees From Hurricanes?

The month of June is delightful for many reasons. It ushers in the summer season, longer and warmer days, laid-back and relaxed nights, and tons of fun under the sun. Despite all of the wonderful things that are associated with June, for Floridians, the month also sparks concern. Why? Because the hurricane season officially begins on June 1 and runs right through November 30. In the northern hemisphere, hurricanes form at tropical and subtropical latitudes and typically travel north to northwest until they hit land. What landmass is smack-dab in the middle of that path? That’s right: Florida!

The peak of tropical storm season occurs between mid-August and late October; however, the risk of hurricanes and tropical depressions is heightened at any time during the 6 month period that has been designated hurricane season. All Floridians are well aware of the dangers that these storms pose. Over the years, storm surges, deluges, and high winds have wrecked absolute havoc on many communities across the state. In many instances, entire towns, cities, and counties have been almost completely wiped out.

While you might not be able to control the weather, but as a homeowner, there are ways that you can protect yourself, your loved ones, and your property from the damage that hurricanes and tropical storms can cause. While there are several things that you should include on your storm prepping list, there’s one thing that should definitely be high on the top of your list and that you absolutely don’t want to overlook: your trees.

How do hurricanes affect trees? What can you do to protect them? To find the answers to the answers to these questions and more, keep on reading.

How Hurricanes Affect Trees

Heavy rains, powerful winds, lightning, and floods; these are the characteristics of a hurricane. On their own, these elements can be dangerous to trees, and when combined, the type of weather that’s associated with a hurricane can spell serious trouble for our arboreal friends. Rain and floodwater drenches and thus, loosens the soil. High winds can break off branches and limbs, and with the moist, loose soil, can tear a tree right out of the ground. Lightning can be a serious issue, too, as it can strike the tall structures, breaking them right in half, and spark a fire.

In other words, hurricanes can cause serious damage to trees. While taller, slimmer trees are more prone to damage, trees of any size and any species can be affected, including deciduous (species that lose their leaves at the end of their growing season, such as live oaks, black olive, mahogany, maple, ficus, etc.) and conifers (cone-bearing trees that have needles as their leaves and usually retain their needles for a prolonged period of time – hence why they’re known as “evergreens”, such as longleaf pine, slash pine, sand pine, bald cypress, etc.). Even the trees that have an exceptional girth and are seemingly indestructible can be brought down by the severe weather that are associated with hurricanes.

Damage to a tree itself isn’t the only cause for concern during a hurricane. Storm-damaged trees can cause extensive property damage, too. Snapped limbs or uprooted trees can crash through roofs and windows, land on vehicles, and take down powerlines. Furthermore, they can pose physical harm to people and animals. Imagine the injuries that could occur if a large uprooted tree were to land on a roof and on top of a person or pet that happens to be sitting underneath it!

In short, hurricanes can cause extensive damage to trees, and hurricane-damaged trees can cause major and costly property damage and severe physical injuries.

How to Protect Trees from Hurricanes

Needless to say, in order to reduce the risk of devastation that hurricane-damaged trees can cause, Floridians really need to take appropriate precautions in order to protect their trees, and thus, their homes, properties, and most importantly, themselves and their loved ones. When it comes to hurricanes and trees, the saying “be proactive, not reactive” really does apply. In other words, knowing that hurricanes are a serious threat in Florida and that the storms can cause severe damage to trees, acting on a potential situation before it becomes a crisis instead of responding after a crisis occurs is the best way to shield your home, your property, and your family from the damages and dangers that hurricanes can pose to trees.

What should you do to protect your trees from hurricanes? Here are some simple, yet highly effective tips to keep in mind.

Keep Your Trees Healthy and Strong

The first and most effective step to hurricane-proofing your trees is keeping them as strong and healthy as possible well before a tropical storm hits the shores. There’s no denying that healthy, strong trees fare extreme weather a lot better than those that are unhealthy and weak. Trees that are well-nourished are naturally stronger, and stronger trees are better equipped to withstand high winds and heavy rains. The branches and limbs are less likely to be torn off and the roots are more secured in the ground. How do you ensure your trees are healthy and strong? Here are a few pointers:

  • Make sure they’re well-watered on a regular basis.
  • Fertilize the soil as per the needs of the species. Do some research or speak with a professional arborist to find out what type of nutrients your trees need and make sure you feed them with those nutrients, as needed.
  • Prune the branches. When branches are left unchecked, the structural soundness of a tree can be compromised, making it more prone to hurricane damage. Plus, regular pruning not only strengthens a tree, but it also maintains its aesthetic appeal.

Don’t wait until the health of your tree is already on the decline to take action. Taking good care of them year-round will ensure they’re healthy and strong, and thus, they’ll be better equipped to stand up to hurricane-force winds, drenching rains, and floods.

Protect the Root System

A tree is only as strong as the roots beneath it. With that said, if you want to be sure that your trees will be able to weather a storm, you’ll want to make sure that the roots are well-protected. After all, the trees serve as an anchor for a tree, securing it in the ground and increasing its stability, which will prevent it from being uprooted when big gusts blow through.

To protect the root systems of your trees, avoid activities that could potentially impeded tree growth and compromise the nutrients in the soil. These activities would include excavation and construction work. Mowing underneath a tree on a regular basis can also damage the root system. Therefore, in order to avoid damaging the root system, you should keep the mowing to a minimum. If you’re concerned about the appearance of an overgrown lawn, consider pulling out the grass and install mulch on top of the soil around the perimeter of the tree’s base. Not only will a mulch ring help prevent the need for mowing underneath a tree and improve the aesthetic appeal of your landscape, but it offers several other benefits, too. A deep layer of mulch around a tree’s base will help to preserve the nutrients and the moisture in the soil, which is certainly beneficial for a tree’s health. The mulch will also help to prevent weed growth, which is important for the strength of the root system, as well as the overall health of a tree, as it won’t have to compete with the weeds for the nutrients and moisture in the soil.

Trim Your Trees Regularly

It’s a common misconception that trimming a tree will damage it. That point-of-view is understandable, as sawing off branches and thinning out foliage seems like it would equate to damaging and weakening the structure. However, in reality, when done properly, trimming a tree can help it withstand serious storms, including hurricanes. Pruning at an early age is highly advised, as doing so will allow encourage a strong central trunk, and the stronger the trunk, the more equipped a tree will be to take on heavy winds and rains.

Tree pruning involves the removal of weak, dead branches; the branches that are the most susceptible to high winds. As such, you won’t have to worry about those weaker and/or dead branches being snapped off and landing on your roof or a car, or plowing through a window. Trimming on a regular basis will also help to boost the structural stability of the tree, which will make it much more resistant to hurricane-related damage. Furthermore, regular pruning will ensure that a tree maintains a proper shape, which in turn will also help to make it more resistant to storm damage.

Hire a Professional Tree Trimmer

There’s no doubt that trimming your trees is an important part in maintaining healthier, stronger, more hurricane-resistant trees, to yield the best results, instead of doing the job yourself, hire a professional tree trimmer to do the job instead. A professional will know exactly how to trim a tree without inflicting any damage on the structure, thus ensuring that it is as strong and as beautiful as possible.

We have tons of experience when it comes to pruning and trimming trees. If you have any questions we’re always here!