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Along the coast of Florida, not only do high winds, hail, and rain cause damage to homes and businesses, so do fallen trees and branches. While people often choose to plant trees based on looks, some of the most popular landscape trees are not designed to withstand erratic hurricane seasons.
Property owners in hurricane-prone Florida areas can protect their buildings and landscaping by planting trees known for their high wind resistance. These varieties are less likely to suffer broken branches or snapped trunks during fierce storms.
After Florida hurricanes, plant experts survey property owners to determine which plants made it through and which did not fare so well. In a survey of tree damage done after Hurricane Andrew, native trees endured the torrential winds and downpours far better than exotic trees. Around 66 percent of the native trees survived versus 34 percent of the exotic trees.
Native trees adapt to the climate and weather in hurricane areas, so these trees are ideally suited to the local soils, light conditions, and temperatures. In fact, these trees thrive in those conditions. Since healthy trees send down strong roots, they anchor themselves to the land.
While any tree can come down in an unpredictable hurricane, you give your trees the best chance of survival when you plant and maintain the seedlings or saplings properly from the beginning. Plant trees a safe distance from structures. Keep trees pruned so dead or weak wood is less likely to break loose in a high wind.
Don’t plant trees too close to your driveway. A tree won’t take root securely under the driveway, and that side of the tree is more likely to pull free from the ground and topple.
Make sure you put trees in the proper setting. Be sure you know what soils and conditions potential trees prefer. For instance, if you have dry soil in your yard, plant trees that grow best in dry conditions. Or, if you have wet, swampy soil in your yard, plant trees that prosper in wet areas.
Dozens of native trees are available with moderate to high wind resistance. Whether you want an evergreen or a deciduous tree, there’s a lovely variety that will work in your landscape.
The following trees are known to have high wind resistance.
If you long to plant a legacy tree, bald cypress is the variety to choose. This tree can live up to 600 years and grow over 150 feet tall. Bald cypress trees don’t mind floods or drier ground, which makes them a versatile choice as a liner in mixed areas. It tolerates muck and poor drainage without minding a bit—as long as pH levels of the soil are below 7.5.
Bald cypress trees are stately vertical accents and are used in some areas of Tampa as street trees, which line roads and paths.
To produce the signature buttressed look at the bottom of the tree, bald cypress must normally grow in water or consistently swampy conditions. The bright green leaves on most cultivars turn to a copper hue before falling for the winter, offering a seasonal beauty to any area.
If you desire a lush evergreen tree that grows up to 90 feet tall, this is the sweet Southern solution. You have shade year round, and you get to enjoy lemon-scented flowers with creamy white petals in spring and summer.
Some magnolia cultivars make wonderful screens along the property line. These evergreens have no preference between shade and sun, but they do require moist soil that drains well to develop the best root systems. Also, magnolias prefer soil on the acidic side.
However, magnolias deposit seedpods and leaves on the ground in spring. The leaves are lightweight, and the pods add interest to the landscape if you don’t use the area as lawn. Still, the pods are not too difficult to clear due to the large size. There are many cultivars of magnolias to suit your height and width requirements.
This member of the Beech family is also called sand live oak. It’s so much like live oak, some experts believe it’s a subspecies of the stately tree. The sand live oak trees are smaller than live oaks, peaking at 80 feet tall. The leaves are curly and stay on the tree well into late winter and early spring, depending on your location.
In the wild, sand live oaks grow in thickets in sandy soil under stands of pine. The plants grow the best roots in fertile soil with some shade.
Because of the compact size, the tree is a good choice for a smaller yard or a roadside ornamental spot. “Geminata” means “twins,” which illustrates how the tree bears paired sets of acorns.
Check with native plant experts to discover the palms, hollies, and other trees that are considered to be high in wind resistance. If you plant these homegrown varieties, you and your trees will be safer when the winds howl.
All trees grow stronger and more wind resistant with proper site preparation and follow-up fertilization. Pete & Ron’s Tree Service, Inc. is happy to handle these duties. We can also handle all of your property’s vital tree-trimming needs as your trees grow taller.