High winds, torrential rain, flooding — hurricanes wreak havoc on gardens, so start preparing long before the wind blows. Take these steps now to help your garden weather the storm.
LONG-TERM HURRICANE PREP:
- Select hurricane-tolerant trees and shrubs. Some withstand high winds and water-saturated soil better than others. Ask a Garden Center associate for help selecting the appropriate trees and shrubs.
- Prune weak, rotting or dead tree branches and remove low-hanging ones near the house.
- Check tree roots for signs of rotting and remove any rotten or diseased trees or shrubs.
- Keep the tree canopy maintained and thinned to increase air circulation.
- Call a professional arborist to periodically maintain trees.
- Keep drainage structures clear of all weeds and debris to cope with heavy rains.
- Group plants together so that their root systems grow into one another. This creates a secure anchor in the soil.
LAST-MINUTE HURRICANE PREP:
- Bring potted plants, hanging baskets, garden ornaments, tools and anything that could become airborne into a shed or garage.
- Move containers too big to bring indoors to a protected area; lay trees in containers on their sides and cluster large pots together.
- Stake trees by driving 2x4s deep into the ground and strapping them around the first few feet of trunk. Keep ties loose so trunks can move with the wind.
- Tie down vines and climbers with rope or twine.
- Clean roof gutters of leaves, twigs and other debris.
AFTER A HURRICANE:
- Evaluate the damage. Remove downed or heavily damaged limbs and trees.
- Pull wind-toppled trees and shrubs upright in their holes and cover the roots with soil. Do this as soon as possible so the roots don’t dry out.
- If the soil is saturated, remove mulch from plants to help water evaporate.
- Unless it’s a hazard, wait a few months to replace a plant that appears dead. It may surprise you by growing new leaves.