It’s that time of year again when everyone in South Florida begins to keep an eye on the tropics. We rush to hang our shutters, fill our cars with gas, and buy bottled water (ok…sometimes beer), but how about our yard? What preparations should we take to avoid a bad situation potentially becoming worse? Here are a few tips when prepping your yard and landscape for an always unpredictable Hurricane Season.
- Yard Décor – Let’s start off with an easy one. Everyone has items in their yard that should be identified as a possible projectiles during a storm. Lawn furniture, bird feeders, wind chimes, hanging baskets, trash cans, barbeque pits, all should be collected and stored. Toys for the kids or dogs in the yard? Pick those up too. Don’t get me wrong, Stretch Armstrong is cool, but him flying into your window at 100 mph…no thank you! Obviously these are just a few examples of what to identify and collect, so use your best judgement and error on the side of caution when doing a pre-storm inspection. If an item is too large to be brought inside, you may want to consider tying it down. Remember, better to be safe than sorry.
- Coconuts – Speaking of projectiles, those bowling balls filled with milk that are hanging down from your palm trees might be a problem. While coconuts are a staple of South Florida’s landscape, they can also be extremely dangerous during a storm. On average, 150 deaths a year are attributed to coconuts. In comparison, shark attacks average 5. That’s right…your piña colada is more dangerous than Jaws. Suffice it to say, coconuts and large palm seeds should all be removed prior to any storm.
- Trees and Shrubs – Dead or rotting branches are very likely to fall during heavy winds, so a thorough inspection of all trees, both hardwood, and palms, should be performed prior to Hurricane Season. I would suggest leaving this to the professionals though, as cutting too much away can actually have an adverse effect on both storm safety and the health of the tree(s) in question. If you are installing new trees and want to assure yourself of having something that would have the best chance of surviving a storm, ask your landscape professional about planting trees designated as “Florida Fancy.”
- Drainage Areas – Storm drains, gutters and downspouts should all be cleaned and cleared of any debris that could potentially cause a blockage. This will help protect against additional flooding that could have otherwise been avoided. Resting water can cause many problems, including the loosening of root systems that could potentially lead to downed trees.
- The Roof, The Roof, The Roof is… on my neighbor’s yard?? – Inspect your roof for any loose tiles/shingles or else they could mimic the movie “Gone With the Wind.”
- Irrigation – Tropical Storms and Hurricanes bring two things: wind and a lot of rain. No need to have sprinklers running during this time as your yard will certainly be saturated enough as it is. Oversaturation of your turf and plant materials can lead to disease, so simply turn the sprinkler system off until weather conditions improve.
- Pool – As long as you’ve collected any toys or tools that you typically leave sitting by or floating in your pool and you’ve got proper drainage, there’s not much needed here. However, turning off your pool pump is recommended.
- And finally… BE SAFE!