Containers can become projectiles in a storm
Picture: Tom MacCubbin
Hurricanes and tropical storms like Isaac with persistent winds can be devastating to landscapes but so can any storm. Sometimes normal thunderstorms can have gusts of hurricane-like strength that are just as damaging and gardeners need to be prepared.
Many tall plants in containers are susceptible to being blown over. Some near pools can cause a nasty mess. Make sure the pots are heavy enough to hold the plant upright and if you know severe weather is coming, move the plants up near the home, take them inside or lay them on their sides. During normal weather tall plants can be staked in the ground or tied to fences and other supports.
Trees are always of concern and should be checked annually for problem limbs. One of the major concerns is trees with twin trunks or ‘V’ branched limbs. These are most susceptible to splitting. You can actually see the fissure where someday the limbs are going to split apart in the winds. Often there is rotting associated with these areas that encourage a quicker limb decline and loss. Give limbs overhanging homes a careful inspection. Look for rotting areas or holes in the trunks. These are all weak areas that can snap in storms. It is best to leave any needed work to a professional.
Arborists should be contacted to determine what you might do about problem trees. Luckily most trees with problem limbs or trunks do not have to be removed. Often the foliage load is lightened and the trunks braced so the tree can continue to be a good shade provider.
Some plants in the landscape are ready to be picked up by winds and tossed about. Yards are often decorated with hanging baskets of annuals, foliage and orchids. Strong gusts can easily send them flying into and through windows. If nothing else, the plant is going to be destroyed. Take time to move these plants to a protected area or set them on the ground if severe weather is expected.
Ornaments are always ready to be blown about in the winds. Wind chimes make pleasant sounds with mild breezes but when hurricane strength winds are expected they can be come missiles. Bird feeders, gazing balls and similar decorations also become hazzards during strong storms. And don’t forget the light weight chairs and benches. These are easily picked up by strong winds. Move all of these items to a safe place or lay them on the ground.
Gardeners also need to make sure their fences are secure. Nail loose boards and make sure posts are firm and anchored in the ground. Hurricane winds may still take them down but they should be secure during most storms.