Take steps to save trees on your property

Published: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 @ 10:08 PM
Updated: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 @ 10:08 PM


            A large ficus tree fell on Nancy Dillard's Sewell's Point home during Hurricane Frances in 2004. (David Spencer/The Post)
A large ficus tree fell on Nancy Dillard's Sewell's Point home during Hurricane Frances in 2004. (David Spencer/The Post)

You may be able to save smaller trees of less than 10-inch diameter that are down or partially blown over.

Cover their roots (but not with plastic) and keep the tiny root hairs wet until they can be uprighted. Don’t cut roots still in the ground.

With shade gone, plant tissues heat up in the afternoon, causing sunburn. A cooling spray of water in the late afternoon will help cool them down. Stake trees securely.

Give your tree some ‘sunscreen.’ Its leaves are like clothes. Without them, trees begin to suffer from sun scald (an arboreal version of sunburn).

Pile brush, soil, a tarp or sphagnum moss on trunk and major limbs. For small trees, try splitting a length of plastic pipe lengthwise and sliding it onto the trunk.

Securing the tree

Set the tree in soil at the same level it was before the storm. Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball. Fill it with water.

Pull up the tree using a cloth sling or the backs of several friends. (Don’t use wires, chains or cables that may snap, injuring bystanders.)

Tamp in soil around roots while spraying with full pressure of garden hose to eliminate air pockets. Back fill with soil from the site. Keep watering until all bubbles cease.

Stake trees securely.

Pruning and fertilizing

Concentrate on salvageable trees. It’s a waste of effort to try to save large trees with split trunks or broken main limbs.

Prune downed trees heavily to compensate for root damage and reduce a tree’s weight to stand it up. Remove damaged or dangling limbs, using the “three-cut method” for big limbs. Don’t “hatrack” trees. Not only is it illegal, but it eventually creates top-heavy trees that will go down more easily in the next storm. Always try to prune back to an area of the tree where a smaller, lateral limb has sprouted.

Leave broken and dangling palm fronds, if possible. If trimming is necessary, cut them in half and see if the palm recovers. 

This also will reduce the tree’s need for water and nutrients while recovering. Remember, even brown and broken fronds are still providing food for the tree. It may take six months for new growth to emerge, and up to two years before palms have a full canopy again. Without sufficient rainfall, recovering palms will need to be watered three times a week for six weeks.

With other trees, trim the canopy back by one-half to two-thirds to reduce water loss. Always trim back to healthy tissue, using sharp, clean implements.

Don’t use pruning or wound paint. Treating a tree’s wound with copper fungicide, however, may help prevent fungus.

After a month, fertilize lightly, making sure the mix has potassium and magnesium. Spray palm buds with fungicide to prevent bud rot.

Fallen branches

Do not be quick to remove fallen branches or palm fronds, which provide shade while plants acclimate to a suddenly sunny garden.

Fallen leaves should be removed as fast as possible. They quickly form a rotting mat that blocks light from plants and grass beneath, and encourages the growth of fungus.

Keep in mind that it could be weeks before downed limbs and other vegetation is picked up.

Remember, no matter how bad the storm, almost everything grows back.

— Barbara Marshall

Pools: Before and after tips

Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 @ 9:15 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 @ 9:15 PM

Don’t drain water from pool

Leave water level alone. Draining, so it won’t overflow, is pointless. If you drain it more than a few feet below normal and the ground gets saturated, the pool’s shell could pop out of the ground (even with concrete pools). Water provides weight to hold the sides and bottom in place.

Turn off power to the pump motor, lights and other equipment at circuit box. Disconnect gas from heater; if possible, have your gas supplier or pool service disconnect it to be safe.

Consider removing diving boards or slides if you fear they won’t be secure in high winds; if you decide to remove them, try to have a professional do it.

If the motor is exposed and you live in a flood-prone area, remove the pump and store it indoors. Otherwise, try to wrap it up with a waterproof cover and tie securely.

Remove automatic pool cleaners, pool blankets and covers, and take inside.

Super-chlorinate or double chemicals you normally add to reduce contamination and infestation by insects.

Stock up on chemicals to “shock” pool after storm.

Don’t throw patio furniture in pool to keep out of the wind; pool chemicals will harm the furniture and can mar the pool finish.


After the ‘all clear’

Call gas company or a pool company to reattach gas line to heater.

Don’t reconnect electrical equipment until you’ve removed debris from the pool with a net and power has been restored. Make sure electrical equipment is dry.

Do this as quickly as possible before bacteria starts to grow. Don’t use your vacuum; debris will clog it and the pump. Then, if the area around the pool is dry, start the pump. When draining the pool to proper level, remove cartridge filter or bypass the filter system. Super-chlorinate again.

Remove vegetative debris before treating water. Add 5 gallons of chlorine (based on a 15,000-gallon pool) and start pump after inspecting electrical equipment to be sure it’s dry. Reset timers, if necessary.

Closely watch the pump system through complete cycles for any problems.

Wait 24 hours to see whether water clears and turns blue. If it does, test water and follow instructions. If water is darker or black, pool may need to be drained, or partially drained, treated and refilled. Call a professional

Balance pool chemicals and monitor a few days.

Claims: How to file, deal with adjusters

Published: Thursday, May 12, 2016 @ 10:43 PM
Updated: Thursday, May 12, 2016 @ 10:43 PM

What if you have to file a claim?

Take photos or video of your home to document your belongings for insurance adjusters. A free computer software program, www.insurancevault.net , will walk you through what are the key images to take. Make sure images are easily accessible immediately after the hurricane — not solely stored on a computer.

Save copies of receipts, purchase dates and serial numbers.

Start a disaster savings account so that money is available in a worst-case scenario.

Write down the name, address and claims telephone number of your insurance company, which may differ from your agent’s contact information.

Keep this information in a safe place and make sure you have access to it if you are forced to evacuate.

Keep materials such as plywood on hand in case you need to make temporary repairs after a storm. Take photos of the damage before you make repairs. Finally, keep receipts from your repairs so that your insurance company has documentation to reimburse you.

Also, document any repairs you make to your house after previous hurricanes. If you don’t, and suffer new damage in the same place, an insurance company could dispute that you ever used the money they paid you to make repairs.

Help adjusters – and others – find you

If you have to leave your home following a storm, it is helpful to leave a phone number where you can be reached somewhere on the outside of your home.

You can spray-paint the number on a piece of wood or on the side of your house. Paint your address and the name of your insurance company on the damaged part of your home for adjusters cruising neighborhoods.

Storm prep checklist for outside the home

Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 @ 2:53 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 @ 2:53 PM

Get Ahead of the Storm - 5 Severe Weather Hacks

WHEN THE STORM THREATENS:

Refill special medications.

Get cash (ATMs may not work for days after). Don’t charge credit cards to the limit; you might need extra cash after the storm.

Get supplies. Follow instructions in this guide for food and water.

Don’t fill gasoline cans until right before the storm; they are a fire hazard.

Fill vehicle fuel tank. Gas stations could run out and some will not have power to run pumps. Check your car’s battery, water, oil. Make sure you have a spare tire and buy aerosol kits that fix and inflate flats.

Check fire extinguishers.

If you own a boat, make necessary preparations.

Prepare your pool. Don’t drain it.

If you own a plane, have it flown out or secured.

WHEN THE STORM IS APPROACHING:

Get shutters, storm panels or plywood in place on windows. If you haven’t installed sockets, attach with wood screws; they’re better than nails and do less damage.

Don’t tape windows; tape can create daggers of glass and in the heat can later bake onto panes.

Remove swings and tarps from swing sets. Tie down anything you can’t bring in. Check for loose rain gutters, moldings.

Move grills, patio furniture and potted plants into your house or garage.

If you do any last-minute pruning, take clippings inside so they don’t become hazards in the wind.

Disconnect and remove satellite dish or antenna from your roof.

Check your mailbox. If it’s loose, secure or remove it.

Remove roof turbines and cap holes with screw-on caps. Unsecured turbines can fly off and create a large hole for rain to pour through.

Prepare patio screening. It usually is built to sustain tropical-force winds, but with higher winds, it can separate from the frame. Officials recommend you remove a 6-foot panel on each side to let wind pass through. Pull out the tubing that holds screening in frame to remove screen.

Secure and brace external doors, especially the garage door and double doors.

Move vehicles out of flood-prone areas and into garages if possible. If not, park cars away from trees and close to homes or buildings.

Don’t turn off your natural gas at the main meter. Only emergency or utility people should do that.

Landscapes: Trees and yard

Published: Friday, May 27, 2016 @ 9:02 PM
Updated: Friday, May 27, 2016 @ 9:02 PM

Trees should be trimmed by early June, before storms threaten. Many municipalities have “amnesty” weeks before storm season, when you can deposit more than the allowable limit of yard debris. Call municipalities for more information.

Call a professional. Trees trimmed by a professional arborist are far less likely to go down in a storm.

Thinning a tree allows wind to blow through its canopy, offering less wind resistance in a storm. Prune young trees to create a single leader, which will grow into a strong trunk.

To minimize damage to a mature tree, eliminate weak branches and reduce the length of limbs at a tree’s sides. Don’t remove interior branches, as this can make a tree unbalanced.

Hatracked trees become sails. Removing a tree’s canopy encourages bushy growth, which makes a tree top heavy and wind-resistant. Some hatracked trees “sailed” directly to the ground. Hatracking is illegal.

‘Lifted’ trees mean broken branches. “Lifting” is a common practice where the lower branches are removed to provide clearance underneath. Lifting contributes to branch breakage and makes the tree top heavy.

Don’t wait until the storm is threatening to prune. If the trash pickup doesn’t get to your curb before the storm strikes, you’ve created a pile of potential missiles.

Coconuts behave like cannonballs in high winds. Remove them well before a storm hits. If trees are too tall for you to reach, hire a tree trimmer.

  • More hurricane tree protection tips

    Tips for your yard

    Take in hanging pots and baskets. Secure or take in pots from shadehouses.

  • Secure young trees with additional stakes.

    Don’t remove fruit. If you put it in a trash pile and the pile isn’t picked up, the fruit may fly around in the wind.

    Tree-dwelling bromeliads, staghorn ferns and orchids can be secured with fishing line.

    Take in or tie up any piles of yard or construction debris.

    Take in all garden furniture, grills, tiki torches and other outdoor items. (Do not sink furniture in swimming pool.)

    Consider removing gates and trellises.

    Palms, native trees fared best through 3 hurricanes

    In high wind, palms will bend but not always break. Since they originated in the tropics and subtropics, their supple trunks have adapted to hurricanes.

    Plant palms in clumps around the edge of your garden (not near the house) to block the wind and protect more fragile plants inside. Although fronds will be damaged in a storm, most of these palms will recover.

    Ficus trees come down easily in storms

    Ficus trees are not meant for residential yards. They grow to 70 feet with a massive span of shallow roots, and come down easily in high winds.

    If you already have a ficus, have it professionally trimmed before hurricane season begins. (If you have Australian pine and ficus in your yard, consider removing them.)

    Stake small trees as a storm approaches with stakes driven at least 8 inches into the ground.

    Trim large masses of vines so they don’t pull down fences.

    Lay arches and trellises on the ground and anchor with rope.

    Fast-growing, brittle trees should never be planted in hurricane country, no matter how quickly you need shade.

    STRONG TREES

    Gumbo limbo
    Cocoplum
    Cypress
    Dahoon holly
    Geiger tree
    Buttonwood
    Jamaica caper
    Mastic
    Ironwood
    Live oak
    Sand oak
    Red bay
    Red maple
    Cypress
    Sea grape
    Stopper
    Strangler fig

    BRITTLE TREES
    (Consider removing these trees from your yard.)

    Australian pine
    Earleaf acacia
    Ficus (ficus benjamina, weeping fig)
    Bishopwood (Bischofia)
    Carrotwood
    Hong Kong orchid
    Tabebuia
    Laurel oak
    Melaleuca
    Schefflera
    Black olive
    Jacaranda
    Java plum
    Norfolk Island pine
    Royal poinciana
    Silk oak

    STORM-SAFE PALMS

    Cabbage palm (sabal palm)
    Canary Island date palm
    Christmas palm (adonidia)
    Coconut palm
    Florida thatch palm
    Foxtail palm
    Robellini palm (Pygmy date palm)
    Royal palm
    Majesty palm
    Paurotis palm
    Thatch palms

    Note: Queen palms are the exception. They have a very low wind tolerance.