Tropical storms hit our country’s coast almost every single year. These storms often cause extensive damage to our rural coastlines and even our more inland neighborhoods. High winds and substantial amounts of rainfall can cause branches to break and uproot entire trees. Property damage can result from landscaping debris and falling trees. Let’s take a look into how you can ensure the health of your trees and minimize your property damage risks.
The best way to plan a more environmentally sound yard is to plan. When choosing a species, look for one that is more wind resistant. Plant trees from the "Highest" and "Medium-High" UF/IFAS Wind Resistance lists and match these to your site conditions; check with your for updated listings. No trees are 100% storm resistance. But with proper maintenance, some species stand a better chance than others to resist storm damage. If you live in the southeast the most storm-resistant trees are live oaks, Southern magnolia, live oak, crape myrtle, bald cypress, sweetgum, bald cypress, and sabal palms. Trees with sturdy trunks, deep roots, and a low center of gravity have the highest chance of surviving a storm. Some trees with the least wind resistance are sand pine, Chinese elm, water oak, and laurel oak.
Be sure to plant trees a reasonable distance away from utilities and other structures. ( 3 m x 3 m unobstructed area for small trees. 10 x 10 for larger trees.) However, unfortunately, new trees (less than five years old) and old trees are the most susceptible to hurricane or storm damage. Young trees have roots that are not well established. Older trees may have damaged or decayed root systems. If you are concerned with the health of your tree, it should be evaluated (checked) by an International Society of Arborists-certified arborist for defects that are not visible from the ground.
A healthy tree may not fall during a storm, but its weaker braches might. Correct and timely pruning is one of the best things you can do for your tree. A winter pruning will encourage efficient branch angles (10 and 2 o’clock). Branches that have smaller angles are weaker because neither has sufficient space to add wood needed for strength. Remember; trees do not heal wounds. Trees grow over them and seal them off.
Dense canopies may act as a sail during high wind speeds. Proper pruning will allow the wind to blow through the canopy of the tree, decreasing the chance of it toppling over. Broken, dead, or damaged branches can fail during wind load and release and may become dangerous projectiles during angry storms. Low branches close to your roof or utility lines should be monitored and potentially shortened. If your tree is close to a power line, please contact a competent, certified arborist! Let’s ensure the safety of your house, electricity, and tree!
When trees have been moved or experienced nearby construction that may be at risk for blowing over during high winds. Many of these trees may have undetectable root damage from lot clearing and home construction. Even if the trees were not injured, trees that have survived land clearing are not safe. The scattered trees have not adjusted to the newly open grown conditions and higher winds. The disaggregation of loose gravelly soil may pose a threat to the stability of the tree.
Remember, healthy trees adjust quickly to changes in the environment and are maybe more resilient to storm damage. Therefore, if you are proactive and take the necessary steps to minimize storm damage before it occurs, you can reduce the risk of property damage and save yourself a great hassle and expense. Most importantly, we want you to ensure YOUR safety. As we experience in a shift in weather conditions, we are bound to see more storms. So check your yard trees and make sure they’re prepared for any potential storms!