University of Florida

The Neighborhood Gardener:
Hurricane Landscaping

Now that hurricane season is right around the corner, it's time again to assess your landscape. Hurricane season lasts from June 1 to November 30, with August and September being the most active months.

There were nineteen named storms in 2011, and while the Weather Channel has predicted a relatively calm season for 2012, senior meteorologist Stu Oslo says, "These forecasts absolutely cannot accurately predict critical details such as where or how many landfalls will occur and people in hurricane-prone areas should be equally prepared every year regardless of seasonal outlooks.”

Your family's safety is most important during a hurricane. One of the things you can do to help keep your family and home safe is to prepare your landscape properly. Here are some tips to help make sure your landscape is on its way to being hurricane-proof: 

  • Right Tree, Right Place – Choose varieties of trees that are well-suited for your landscape. Plant larger trees away from your home, power lines, and other structures. This reduces the risk of branches—or of trees themselves—falling on your home or knocking down power lines.
  • Choose Wind-Resistant Species – Some trees are more wind-resistant than others, so do your homework. Suggested wind-resistant varieties include sabal palms and smaller palm varieties such as manila and pygmy date. Gumbo limbo, live oak, and sea grape also have high survival rates after hurricanes.
    "Selecting Tropical and Subtropical Tree Species for Wind Resistance"
  • Regular Pruning and Maintenance – Assess trees for branches that are dying, damaged, or weakly connected to the trunk. Regular pruning has several benefits: it promotes healthy growth; removes dead, dying, or diseased limbs; and can reshape the tree to be more resistant to wind damage. Thinning or reducing the crown of the tree helps to reduce trunk movement during a hurricane (learn more). If branches are large or high in the tree, it's best to hire a certified arborist to prune.
  • Planting in Groups or Masses – 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.

After a hurricane, remember that your landscape needs to be maintained. Damaged trees need to be removed or restored.

And be sure to check out the Trees & Hurricanes website for detailed information on storm damage prevention and treatment. (Disponible en Español)

Florida Master Garden logo

Florida-friendly Landscaping(TM) Program logo

The Florida Master Gardener Program is on Facebook