Is your landscape ready for a hurricane?
Hurricane preparedness is by far the most important part of personal safety during the hurricane season, but as a land care professional my thoughts always return to the landscape. I don’t know of any official statistics concerning costs associated with landscape damages, but based on my experience with response to natural disasters, I can assure you damages can be extensive and costly.
Here are some tips I hope you will find helpful not only for the hurricane season, but in general. Please share and discuss these tips with family, friends and/or neighbors to better prepare for, and prevent property damage.
Before the storm
- Anchor newly planted trees (within the last year) with appropriate tree support systems
- Preventatively pruning dead wood and weak crotches from existing trees minimizes risk of property damage
- Harvest fruits and vegetables before a storm and keep in containers to prevent contamination from floodwaters
- Secure/Store all outdoor garden fixtures and lawn or garden equipment as you would for winter
- Clear gutters, downspouts, drainage pipes and basins of debris to allow for excess water flow from the heavy rain
- Shut down irrigation systems and turn off the water supply to prevent possible added flooding due to broken heads and lines
- Prune trees with dense canopies to prevent a “sail effect” and possible uprooting
- Contact your land care professional for assistance in preparing your landscape for hurricane season and/or pending storm-events
- Contact your insurance agent before the storm to determine what damage is, and is not, covered by your policy
- Have large trees that are financially difficult to replace appraised and insured
- Take pictures of your landscape before and after storm-events to help expedite claims
- Keep accurate records of landscape appraisals and losses for insurance, legal, and income tax purposes.
During the storm
- DO NOT park vehicles beneath trees
- DO NOT go outside unless directed by officials.
After the storm
- Be aware of coastal and hillside erosion
- Be aware of downed power lines and foreign material in the yard
- Leave partially downed trees and hanging limbs for trained professionals to manage
- DO NOT use fresh or garden food that has come across floodwaters
- Use agriculture grade gypsum to help counteract the effects of salt spray on lawns and gardens
- Have well water re-tested for potability and usage on lawns and gardens.
Insurance coverage for downed trees can vary depending on the insurance company. A basic home policy generally provides limited tree removal coverage up to $500 if trees fall on covered property. Some insurance companies provide slightly higher amounts and may cover tree removal when a covered building is not involved when you purchase a special endorsement to your policy. Tree removal coverage is subject to your policy deductible.