Storm Preparedness: Protecting Your Trees from Hurricane Damage

Storm Preparedness – Protecting Your Trees From Hurricane Damage

Trees are some of nature’s strongest structures, but a severe storm can bring them down. To limit the damage to your landscape investment, it is crucial to have your trees checked for health issues prior to a stormy season.

The best way to protect trees is to plant wind and hurricane resistant species. Ideally, select compact trees with low center of gravity and a single dominant trunk.


Hurricanes and tornadoes can uproot trees or blow them over. Every proactive step you take to protect your property and reduce damage is worth the effort.

Trees that are pruned regularly have a much higher survival rate. Pruning removes dead limbs and encourages healthy growth, minimizing wind resistance. Prune before a storm hits by reducing limb lengths and removing forked branches, as well as hatracking (which causes the canopy to become top-heavy).

Also consider inspecting, or have professionals inspect, your property’s trees to look for forks in trunks, mounds and divots near roots, deep wounds or decay and rot. Trees that are more susceptible to damage during severe weather events include those with a high center of gravity, large or dense canopy and shallow roots caused by heavy soil saturation. Mature water oaks can be particularly problematic due to trunk rot and decay. They are one of the most common reasons that buildings fall during hurricanes. When it comes to ensuring the safety of your property, engaging in professional services such as Tree Removal Orlando may be crucial.

Hurricane Straps

During hurricanes, strong winds can blow down trees and debris, rip off roofs, and cause flooding. To prevent these kinds of catastrophes, homeowners can install hurricane straps on their homes. These are essentially metal bands that go around the roof, and they help keep the shingles attached.

Another option is to board up your home a day or two before the storm hits. This involves putting 5/8-inch plywood over your windows. This will drastically reduce the likelihood that they’ll shatter.

In the event of a hurricane, you should stay indoors and stay away from windows. If you’re in an area that’s vulnerable to floods, find the lowest level of your house to stay in; this is typically the basement. Be sure to grab your emergency supplies and important documents, and make a list of the emergency phone numbers for your utility providers. Consider lining the bathtub with plastic sheeting and filling it with water; this can be useful if you lose power and need to use your toilets.


While pruning should be done regularly, it is especially important before a storm. It removes dead branches, promotes healthy growth and helps prevent weakened trunks that may be vulnerable to uprooting during a hurricane.

It is also a good idea to prune out-of-control limbs before a storm hits, as they can become projectiles during high winds. Thinning a canopy reduces wind resistance and helps prevent tree damage during a storm, too. Avoid ‘hatracking’, a common practice that encourages bushy growth, makes the tree top-heavy and can cause branch breakage during a hurricane.

Prepare your home, including storing important documents in waterproof containers, first aid supplies, flashlights and battery-powered radios. Gather your family and pets and make a plan for where you will go in case you must evacuate. Make sure to check your insurance policies and have a supply of water, blankets, personal hygiene items, medications and a change of clothes. Choose the safest room in your house, such as a basement, and keep windows closed.

Storm Debris

In order to protect your trees, consider planting a new tree species that has been tested in the area for hurricane resistance. The more compact a tree is and the lower its center of gravity, the better chance it has of surviving a storm. Likewise, a single dominant trunk and spaced branches will add to a tree’s ability to stand firm against high winds. Older slender trees that were part of the forest before suburban development can also be more prone to falling over during a storm and should be pruned, reduced in size or removed completely.

Finally, keep in mind that wind borne debris can become dangerous projectiles. Prepare an emergency plan with family members, determine meeting places and set up a safe way to evacuate if necessary. Make sure your house is secure and that you have an emergency supply kit including water, food and supplies for pets. Make sure to place debris piles away from hydrants, fire alarms, gas and power lines, and fences.

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