Monday, June 01, 2009

Hurricane Landscaping

June 1st not only heralds in warmer temperatures, afternoon showers, and humid mornings but also hurricanes. Announcements of hurricane season's opening day is a good reminder to check out your landscape to make sure your property doesn't become a hazard during the storms and will ultimately survive.

Hurricane season is June through September, with August and September being the most active period. NOAA is predicting nine to 14 named tropical storms with four to seven turning into hurricanes. We could see one to three becoming Category 3 hurricanes. Last year we had five hurricanes and a relatively mild storm year.

Tropical storms and hurricanes are one of Florida's main influences on our water supply so while they are not something to look forward to - they are necessary.

Brevard County has great advice on how to make sure your landscape is hurricane-proof:
  • Right Tree Right Place – by simply planting larger trees away from your home, power lines, and other structures, you greatly reduce the risk of branches or the tree itself falling on your home or knocking down power lines.
  • Regular Pruning and Maintenance – assess trees and shrubs for branches that are dying, too large, lopsided, etc. Regular pruning promotes healthy growth, removes dying or diseased limbs, and can reshape the tree to be more resistant to wind damage. [Teresa's note: Make sure anyone working on your trees or providing a bid to prune is a certified arborist in your area. You can go to the International Society of Arborists to verify certification.]
  • Choose Wind Resistant Plant Species – After the previous year’s hurricanes, researchers collected data from all over Florida on the number and types of trees that withstood the storms or were blown over.
  • Planting in Groups or Masses – when possible, planting groups of mixed trees together can greatly enhance wind resistance. The trees buffer each other as well as your property and other landscape plants.
Be pro-active in your yard - don't wait till a hurricane is brewing in the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico. Charges be more costly due to the season and the chances of finding an arborist with an open schedule then will be risky.

Find out how Father Hurricane, a Jesuit was instrumental in hurricane prediction.

I know you've heard of rain lilies, Zephyranthes spp. I bought some beautiful uniquely-colored orange and deep pink rain lilies at Plant Delights Nursery in NC last week. But have you heard of hurricane lilies? They are the Lycoris species in the Amaryllis family with Zephyranthes. Wonderfully pest-free, maintenance free (seriously) hurricane and rain lilies are a great addition to a cottage, woodland, or tropical themed garden.

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