Don’t Leave Your Landscape Out of Hurricane Preparations

by ANNE YASALONIS, residential horticulture agent and Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator,
UF/IFAS Extension Polk County

Hurricane season started June 1. You are probably aware of preparations you need to make inside the home, but what do you need to do in your landscape? Survey your property now, and look for things that may be an issue such as:

  • Flooding
  • Erosion
  • Wind directions
  • Tree failure (and the potential impacts to your property)

1. Prune trees properly

To prune or not to prune, that is the question. First and foremost, properly planted and maintained trees are the best defense against any potential hurricane damage. But, if it has been a while since you have pruned your trees, make sure that you follow this checklist:

Be wary of services willing to “hurricane prune” your trees and palms. Always contact a certified arborist and make sure any pruning does not include toppingtipping or lion-tailing.

Palms must be pruned properly as well. Only remove dead leaves (completely brown), and never prune above the 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. hands on a clock. For more information on properly pruning palms, go to

You can also find helpful information about how and when to prune your trees before a hurricane at

2. Clean gutters

Really, this is important before the start of the rainy season anyway. Make sure that your gutters are clean and clear so that when large rainfall events occur water can flow freely.

3. Make a plan for potted plants 

…and other objects around your yard. Where and how will you secure them if needed?

4. Anchor and/or brace outdoor structures and consider how to deal with potential wind damage to solid fencing.

Can you remove any panels from your solid fence so that wind can move through?

5. Take photos and document your property before the storm.

For more information on preparing your landscape for a hurricane, cleaning up your landscape after a hurricane, or selecting wind resistant trees for your landscape, contact us

There is a lot of very helpful information on the UF/IFAS woody landscape plants website at Just select “trees” and you will find information on everything from tree selection to design and pruning.

For more information, contact UF/IFAS Extension Polk County at (863) 519-1041 or visit us online at  The Plant Clinic is open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. to answer your gardening and landscaping questions. Give us a call or email us at

The Florida Master Gardener Volunteer Program is a volunteer-driven program that benefits UF/IFAS Extension and the citizens of Florida.  The program extends the vision of the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, all the while protecting and sustaining natural resources and environmental systems, enhancing the development of human resources, and improving the quality of human life through the development of knowledge in agricultural, human and natural resources and making that knowledge accessible.

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