If you live in an area where tornadoes or hurricanes happen, you already know how important it is to prep early.
With little to no notice, these severe storms roll in with fierce winds. And after they’re gone, they can leave behind devastating destruction and billions of dollars in damage.
According to Adam Jackson, district manager for Davey Tree in Kissimmee/Central Florida, in order to keep your home safe, trees healthy, and minimize damage, prep starts before the season.
“Trees properly maintained are stronger,” Jackson said. “Properly cared for trees can hold their ground in almost any weather, especially heavy winds and downpours. Every proactive step you take now can reduce damage to the tree, property, and additional future risks or failure.”
3 Storm prep steps
Before you begin prepping, know that some trees can weather severe storms better than others. Jacksons says it all depends on the tree– and storm – you have. Your tree’s stability depends on its species, age and health and structure. Plus, the storm’s speed, wind intensity and the amount of precipitation also influence whether your tree will survive.
You can help trees better endure vicious winds and intense rain with these 3 steps below.
1. Structural & hazard pruning. Have your trees inspected for risks by an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist. A Certified arborist who has been certified by the ISA, knows exactly what structural issues pose a risk and can be fixed by pruning. By pruning before the storm, you reduce the chances of downed limbs - or worse, trees that split, uproot or fall.
Structurally pruning your trees in preparation before hurricane season can lessen the chances of property damage by:
1. Decreasing wind resistance with even distribution of branches along each limb, reducing weight, making the limbs stronger.
2. Reducing fallen branches by removing dead, decayed or crossing and rubbing limbs.
3. Keeping your home safe by removing limbs to provide adequate clearance from your home.
2. Calmly cable. Your arborist will also look for limbs that are at risk for failure that need additional support due to weather, such as high winds and rain. By strategically installing a dynamic cabling system or a flexible steel strand cables and heavy bolts, you reduce the likelihood of stress damage to your tree.
Our goal when cabling and bracing a tree is to help strengthen weak branches or limbs so that they are better able to withstand severe weather and to improve their longevity, while reducing potential risk.
3. Boost the roots. Trees with healthier roots are more likely to survive hurricanes or tornadoes. To improve your trees’ root system, regularly feed your trees. When you deliver essential nutrients regularly, your trees become better anchored and overall healthier.
In addition to fertilizing, water your trees deeply when needed and keep them mulched.
Mulch helps tree roots better retain water while also providing nutrients as the mulch breaks down. Plus, mulch helps reduce weeds around trees, which attempt to steal your trees’ water. But when it comes to mulch, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Piling mulch too high and covering a tree's trunk can cause decay.
Hurricane or tornado resistant trees
While no tree is storm proof, native trees typically survive storms better than exotic, imported trees. Native trees have been growing in the region for thousands of years, have stood the test of time and know how to weather Florida’s storms.
Also, trees grouped together in sets of five or more, rather than lone trees, fare intense storms better. Keep this in mind when planting new trees.
Remember, hurricanes and tornadoes are unpredictable, intense storms. The higher the wind speed, the more likely trees will fail. Once hurricanes reach a Category 3 or tornadoes reach a level F2, research shows their 115-150 mph wind speeds can uproot or destroy a tree – no matter how well prepared you are.
Once a storm subsides, make it a priority to check landscape trees. Keeping trees healthy, pruned and structurally sound helps minimize accidents before the storm. Although defective trees are dangerous, not all of them need to be removed immediately, and some defects can be treated to prolong the life of the tree.