Hurricane impact on Lawns & Landscaping

One Two Tree, Inc. sends its well-wishes to all in our community as we recover from a storm that obviously resulted in a tremendous amount of tree, palm and landscaping damage.

When plants, trees, and palms are exposed to Hurricane force winds, especially over the many hours we experienced with Hurricane Irma, the results are a level of stress that can be severely damaging. With most properties losing some amount of trees, palms and landscaping, maintaining what is left is critical to protecting the value of your property, as well as, restoring it visually to an appearance that brings you some degree of comfort and feeling that you are returning to normalcy.

The physical signs of stress are often delayed (as much as several months). Exacerbating their recovery is the fact that seasonally we are in the time of year where the majority of plants, trees and palms enter a semi-dormant stage, slowing their growth and absorbing less water and nutrients, advancing their recovery. Additionally, as temperatures drop in the recovery months, fungal issues become prevalent. A stressed tree, palm or lawn is much more susceptible to hosting fungi, resulting in a rapid decline. Lawns suffer the additional burden of the period of time they remain covered in debris which aggravates the problem.

Taking fallen trees and palms out of the equation for the moment, what remains may be leaning trees and palms, trees with broken branches and missing foliage, along with palms that have missing, shredded and/or bent fronds. The sooner they are all nourished and treated appropriately, the better their chance of survival and the sooner they will recover physiologically, as well as, cosmetically. Leaning trees and palms should be corrected by a professional that will assess root damage in the areas where roots may still be exposed, deciding if any root pruning is warranted before straightening and burying the tree. Properly placed and attached braces and stakes are critical to the long-term recovery of a leaning tree, as well as, reassuring that the tree is safely in place and will not lean again or fall (especially in another high wind event). Broken tree branches should be removed in a manner that leaves the wound on the tree “clean cut” by a professional. A clean-cut promotes the proper “healing” or compartmentalizing of a wound. As opposed to leaving torn, jagged and irregular tissue remaining, which provides tiny cavities for trapping moisture and hosting pests and disease, resulting in an area of decay.

Lawns that have been exposed to piles of debris will result in dead or severely damaged turf surfaces and in most cases those areas should be dug out, followed by new sod installation. If you leave those areas to recover on their own, in the vast majority of cases, weeds will begin to fill the spaces long before healthy grass starts to regrow and you will fight a losing battle trying to eliminate the weeds, not to mention having them migrate into healthy lawn areas.

In the case of palms, it’s the opposite of damaged tree branch protocol. As ugly as a palm may look, none of the damaged green fronds should be removed. Even if bent, broken or collapsed against the trunk of the palm, those fronds are still providing very important nutrient storage and a feeding source for the palm. Only totally brown, dead fronds should be removed.

In many areas of our community flooding, including salt intrusion, affected plants and lawns. The saturation alone will stress turf grasses and promote root rot. High salt levels can “burn” the roots and temporarily change soil Ph levels enough to accelerate damage, as well. Fresh water irrigation should be increased as needed (our water restrictions allow for such increases when treating for stress/damage and/or new sod installation) to offset such salt retention.

Another consideration for a speedy and healthy recovery is to “treat” trees, palms, lawns and landscaping with proper fertilizer, root growth hormones, fungicides and insecticides, helping to promote new feeding roots and boosting the building blocks of growth, reestablishing plants as soon as possible. Liquid, organic fertilizers can offer an advantage over granular fertilizers to stressed landscaping because they are absorbed more quickly and transfers through the plant, tree or palm faster.
Written By: Rick Barocas, Certified Arborist

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