June 1 marked the official beginning of hurricane season.

June 1 marked the official beginning of hurricane season.  Although we haven’t had a hurricane this season it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

The arrival of hurricane season signals the need to develop some contingency plan to guard our lives and property from powerful winds and flooding rains.  Ornamental plants and other landscape objects are especially vulnerable.

One of the most important protective measures is to stake down any new trees and shrubs on your home grounds.  By “new” we mean any small trees or large shrubs you’ve planted within the past year.  The stakes should be two or three feet long.  You’ll need three or four per tree.  Drive them into the soil to a depth of 18 to 24 inches, slanting them away from the tree a 45-degree angle.  This will make them more secure and less likely to be pulled out.

How far you place the stake from a tree will depend on its size.  A general rule is to locate the stakes the same distance from the base of the tree as the height above the ground at which you plan to attach the guide wires.  To secure the wire and keep them from slipping off, make notches in the stakes a few inches from the top of each.  Then attach wires in these notches and run them to a point about two-thirds up the trunk.  Before attaching the wires to the tree, run them through lengths of garden hose to protect the bark.  Now, tighten the wires enough to prevent excessive tree movement, but not so high that they may break – or, worse yet, cause the tree to break in high winds.

In addition to staking and guying small trees and shrubs, you should inspect larger trees for broken, dead or damaged limbs and remove these as soon as possible.  Hurricane winds can tear such limbs from a tree, and turn them into dangerous projectiles.  However, remember that it is not a good idea to prune healthy branches before a hurricane, because this encourages new growth, which is very vulnerable to wind damage.  During the storm season, it is especially important to keep roof gutter clear of leaves, twigs, and other debris.  Drainage should be at its best to cope with heavy hurricane rains.

If you have hanging baskets, tub plants, or large potted plants on exposed porches or patios, they should be moved indoors ahead of the storm.  Hurricane winds can damage or completely destroy both exposed plants and containers.  Other loose items, which can be hurled about, such as lawn furniture, garden tools, toys, and garbage cans, also should be brought inside before strong winds strike.  In addition to being severely damaged or destroyed, such objects can become lethal flying objects during a hurricane.

While we all hope our state avoids serious hurricane damage this season, it’s still very important to be prepared.  So, check your home grounds thoroughly, keeping our precautionary pointers in mind.  And, if you detect potential dangers, take corrective action promptly.

For more information on landscape preparedness contact the Gulf County Extension Service @ 639-3200 or visit our website:  http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu  or www.http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu  and see Publication HS 1021, FOR 115 and HS 1066