Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricane Preparations for Your Landscape

Hurricane Irene is out there. Round and round she goes, and where (or when) she stalls, nobody knows.

Although there is still a chance that Irene could blow out to the Atlantic, News4's Tom Kierein says the increasingly likely track puts the hurricane off Ocean City Maryland sometime Saturday evening. 

Passing through Ocean City, Irene would be close enough affect the Washington metro area. Heavy rains and strong gusty winds can be expected. (Source – Hurricane Irene Gaining Strength)

In preparation for the weekend weather, first and foremost, make sure that your family and possessions are safe. But after that, take care of your landscape and gardens.

1) Walk around your yard and secure or put away any items that could become potential missiles. This includes rakes, shovels, buckets, hanging plants: Basically, anything that isn’t tied down. Remember, wind gusts could reach 70 mph or higher.

2) Move all potted plants indoors. If you have large potted trees, lay them on their sides if they can’t be easily moved.

3) Survey any trees in your landscape for weak or dead branches that may fall during hurricane force winds. Some trees are known for their brittle limbs, but any tree that is improperly pruned or has interior damage to trunk or limbs can have breakage in high winds. Trees with large, dense canopies can also be thinned to help prevent uprooting. If need be, call a certified arborist to help you assess your trees and trim them, as needed.

4) Any tree that is in soil which is too wet is more likely to blow over in heavy winds. Excessive watering, planting in the wrong location, poor drainage or too much rain can all create soil which is too wet to hold a tree erect. Other factors which can cause a tree to blow over are decayed roots, planting in confined soil spaces (such as between sidewalks and roadways) or soil compaction due to construction activity or heavy equipment driving over tree roots. Again, when in doubt, consult a certified arborist.

5) If you see any areas in your landscape where soil has washed away from tree roots, fill the holes up to the original ground level.

6) Stake young trees for the duration of the storm and until excess water has drained away.

7) Dispose of all branches and yard debris before the storm arrives.

8) Prune back any heavy vines that are growing on arbors, making them top heavy.

9) Stake or otherwise secure arbors, if possible.

10) Add soil to low areas with poor drainage. If necessary, add rocks to direct water away from downspouts or below where rooftops converge.

11) Place rocks, bricks or homemade sandbags (bags of mulch, sand or garden dirt work well) to help protect low lying plants from excessive flooding.

12) Make sure all drains in your landscape are clear and working properly.

13) Clean out gutters and downspouts.

14) Where possible, direct water from downspouts and rain barrel overflows away from your home.

15) Don’t fertilize, use insecticides or herbicides in your yard. Rain from the storm will wash chemicals off your property and into our waterways.

16) Harvest your vegetables and fruits. Remove plant supports.

17) Place  screens over garden ponds to protect against falling leaves, branches and over debris.

18) Although you may be tempted to shelter or protect some of your prized plants, don’t cover them with anything that isn’t firmly secured from severe wind gusts. Just in case, take cuttings or collect seeds from any rare or sentimental plants.

Above all else, be safe!

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