There is never a dull moment during hurricane season in Florida. Whether we get hit or not, we are all prepared to put an action plan into place. We watch the “spaghetti models” on the news, put up storm shutters or board our windows, buy sandbags by the dozens, and purchase bottled water and canned goods in bulk. We listen for school closings, plan our escape routes, and find shelters, especially those of us on the coastline in places like Spring Hill. We do all of this in hope of protecting our homes and our loved ones to the best of our abilities, but often, the outdoor elements of our homes are overlooked. Luckily, most of the named storms pass us right by, but hit or not, our summer weather is far more volatile than during other seasons. During these months, there are several steps you can take to make sure your lawn and landscaping stay healthy and strong.
A typical summer day in Florida consists of at least one afternoon rain shower. When your lawn is getting inches of water several days out of the week, turn off your sprinklers. Better yet, install a sprinkler system with a reliable rain gauge. When your lawn is sufficiently saturated, the system will turn itself off until your grass is ready for more water.
Over-watered lawns can look pale and unhealthy, but worse, they are more susceptible to disease, fungi, and pests. Turning off your sprinklers during storm season will not only minimize the chances of these costly damages, but cut back on your water bill, as well (leaving more in the bank for those outrageous power bills that result from cranking the air conditioning 24/7).
Trees that have well-established root systems fair best in turbulent weather. Take some preventative measures by planting native tree species (that are, by nature, more resilient during the Florida storm season) and species that have strong trunks and broad root systems. Plant trees in clusters, but allow room for root spread. Hire professional irrigation specialists to ensure that tree roots aren’t damaged by sprinkler installations.
Smaller, less permanent landscaping features can cause great damage during storm season. Lawn decorations like gazing balls and transportable potted plants should be brought indoors. Larger potted plants can be turned on their sides. Small trees that have not taken root can be temporarily bolstered with stakes or chicken wire. These preventative measures can keep your landscaping elements from becoming projectiles during severe hurricane winds.
Much like our pre-hurricane rituals, Florida residents also have a shared post-storm experience. We check our homes for flooding, drain our pools, and – hopefully – breathe a sigh of relief. We walk our properties and collect snapped branches and other debris littering our lawns. With sufficient planning and preparation, we can all weather the storm and come out on the other end with an intact and healthy lawn.