Daniel Gill, Merrill, Thomas A.
By Dan Gill
LSU AgCenter Horticulturist
June marks the beginning of hurricane season, and it’s important to understand powerful hurricanes can affect the entire state – not just the southern portions.
I think we all are taking recommendations to prepare for storms far more seriously than we may have in the past. As you make your plans, remember there are things that need to be done to prepare a landscape for the possibility of storm and things to do when a storm threatens.
Check Trees Now
Trees with trunks that show significant decay and threaten a home or other important structure should be removed – even if they made it through hurricanes Katrina or Rita. Trees that are leaning significantly also should be evaluated for possible removal. Remember, too, that large trees can impact more than just your property, so you should consider how your trees might affect neighboring properties as well as your own.
In addition, look for branches that hang over the house near the roof. Although the branches may not be touching the roof under normal conditions, the high winds of violent storms or hurricanes can cause trees to bend and branches to flail around considerably. These branches can cause extensive damage to the roof and generally should be removed.
Normally it is best to have this kind of work done by a professional – a licensed arborist. Arborists are trained individuals who make a career of caring for the urban forest. Some arborists are self-employed, while others work for tree-care companies, municipalities or public parks. The areas in which arborists can help you include planting, transplanting, pruning, fertilizing, pest management (such as spraying for caterpillars or treating for termites), tree removal, value appraisals and protecting trees during construction.
Another thing to do is to consider staking young trees – those planted in the past few years – since they can be easily blown over by high winds. This will save work straightening and supporting them after a storm if it does blow them over.
While those are some of the things to do well before a storm, you also need to take action in your lawn and landscape if a storm is approaching.
If it looks like a hurricane is likely to head your way, secure loose objects in the landscape. Look around your grounds for container plants, hanging baskets, tools, lawn furniture (including porch swings), toys, bicycles, bird feeders, wind chimes, barbecue grills, playhouses and doghouses. These items can become destructive missiles during high winds and should be stored indoors – in garages or sheds – or anchored securely in place.
If you are the organized sort, well before a hurricane threatens make a list of things that need to be brought inside and where to put them. Also, make a list of things that need to be tied down. Buy the necessary equipment, including anchors. Estimate how long it will take to secure things. You can make these lists part of your family’s emergency plan.
Pesticides and motor fuels should be stored in areas that are secure and higher than potential flood waters. These products can be hazardous if flood waters spread them through your home or garage.
If you have a vegetable garden, harvest all vegetables that you can before a storm hits to get them out of harm’s way. There will likely be little left if high winds occur. And produce covered by flood water will have to be discarded.
Take Care Of Water Gardens
Aquatic gardens also need some attention if a storm is approaching. Aquatic plants in pots are often set on bricks, cinder blocks and other supports to boost them to the proper level in the pond. These potted plants should all be set on the bottom of the pond until the hurricane passes.
In addition, you may want to consider bringing valuable fish, such as expensive koi, inside in a large bucket of water dipped from the pond to protect them.
Fountains should be turned off and secured, and electrical cords should be unplugged, rolled up and secured.
As you make your plans for how to get ready for an approaching hurricane, prioritize what you need to do so important tasks are done first. If your area is put under a hurricane watch, begin to do what is needed to prepare your landscape for the storm.
Keep in mind you won’t have time to focus on your landscape once a hurricane warning is announced, and you certainly won’t have time for it if evacuations are called for. When preparing to evacuate, if time permits, be sure to water your indoor plants before you leave.
For excellent free information on preparing for storms and dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane, contact your parish’s LSU AgCenter Extension office. Or visit the LSU AgCenter’s Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com for an extensive selection of online publications and tips.
Get It Growing is a weekly feature on home lawn and garden topics prepared by experts in the LSU AgCenter. For more information on such topics, contact your parish LSU AgCenter Extension office or visit our Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com. A wide range of publications and a variety of other resources are available.