ORLANDO, Fla. - Though hurricane season doesn't officially begin until June, Orlando officials are urging residents to prepare their yards now.
John Perrone, the parks division manager for the city of Orlando, said Wednesday that the best time to make the area around your home or business "hurricane ready" is during winter or the early months of spring.
Perrone said he sees people every year who wait until they know a storm is approaching to trim their trees and cut back landscaping in hopes of avoiding damage when the storm hits, but that's actually the worst time to do those preparations, for a number of reasons.
"And the reason that now is a good time is because you have time to evaluate your trees, you have time to get a good company that would be available to trim those trees, and probably at a lower cost than if you were to wait until right before hurricane season hits," Perrone said.
He said trimming the trees early can not only be good for them, as trees are less susceptible to disease and insects when trimmed during the dormant season, but it helps cut down on the threat of debris.
"It can be better for the trees, but in actuality, the best thing is the fact that when you wait until the last moment, then you're going to have debris that's on the ground or debris that has to be taken somewhere and disposed of correctly," Perrone said. "And a lot of times, those places, those municipal dumps might even be closed in the days preceding a hurricane. So now you have loose debris on the ground that can become projectiles in a 70 mph wind."
How do you know if your tree even needs trimming or other preparations? Perrone recommends you first look at the structure of a tree.
"If you look at a tree that has, maybe, the limbs are branching off of the trunk at a very tight angle -- say, less than 30 degrees -- that would be something you want to look at," Perrone said. "What we call the crotch of the tree. So you'd want to look at those crotches and make sure that there's not any damage in that area or that the angle of repose is not too narrow."
Perrone said you also want to check for any obvious signs of dead or rotten limbs or holes in the limbs themselves.
Is there fungus growing around the tree? Are there holes that are obvious rotted areas at the base of the tree?
Perrone also recommended hiring a certified arborist to check out your property.
"That's someone that's certified with the ISA, the International Society of Arboriculture, and if you find someone with that certification, they're going to do a very good job and only give you what you need, so they're not just trimming trees or cutting trees to make money. They're doing it for the long-term health of the tree and the canopy and the city of Orlando," Perrone said.
If you're planning to plant a tree, Perrone recommends the following resources, which all have information on how to select quality trees, when, how and where to plant them and how to maintain them:
- Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association
- University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension
If you think there's a tree around town that may need to be evaluated, Perrone recommends you report it to city officials through SeeClickFix.com.
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