How to prepare the trees around your home for a tropical storm

Published: September 22, 2022 6:04 PM EDT

With a tropical system expected in the gulf next week now is the time to check on the trees outside your home.

A recent study from the University of Florida found most trees can withstand category one hurricanes.

But you don’t have to be a tree expert to spot most tree defects, and taking care of them protects you, your family, and your home.

Hurricane Irma blew in with a vengeance five years ago

A Lee County resident said her biggest tree that was planted by her parent 55 years ago went down during Irma.

Destroying hundreds of trees, branches, and limbs and scattering them across neighborhoods.

A Lee County resident said a lot of trees from his neighbor’s house were also knocked down.

But you don’t need to wait for a storm to test your trees.

Andrew Koeser is an IFAS associate professor of Environmental-Horticulture studies at the University of Florida.

He looked at data from hurricanes Matthew and Irma to study the effect of high winds from tropical storms or hurricanes on trees.

“Not every tree needs to be removed to get its risk down to something that’s acceptable before a storm,” Koeser said.

His study found most trees can withstand winds from hurricanes as strong as category 1 up to 95 miles an hour.

Planting trees in groups doesn’t increase the likelihood they’ll stay standing and a lot of tree defects like discoloration are easy to spot.

“They’re things like dead branches or decayed branches that are cavities and things like that. And you know there’s many, many branches and trees so you can often just prune those things out and keep the majority of the tree and keep it there for years to come,” Koeser said.

Koeser also recommends having an arborist check older, larger trees because the bigger the tree, the more potential damage.