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Hurricane Season and Hort Hurdles aka Opportunities

Lynn Barber, Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM Agent
UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County

We are now in the midst of hurricane season. What opportunities for flying debris adorn your landscape? If yours looks anything like mine, we have some work ahead of us and should start now!

Do you have trees that are leaning over your home or lanai? You may want to contact a certified arborist for advice about pruning or other alternatives. You can access a list of certified arborists at the International Society of Arboriculture at, on the right side of the page, Find an Arborist.

Are your landscape shrubs already bending groundward? You may want to consider pruning one-third off the top. What about palms? Hurricane pruning is harmful to palms and not all palms need to be pruned. If palms are pruned, the fronds should appear as the hands on a clock at 9:00 and 3:00. For more information on palm pruning, refer to the University of Florida publication, Pruning Palms by Timothy Broschat at

How many potted plants adorn your front porch, lanai and outdoor landscape? What about the hanging plants on your porch and in trees? Then there are signs, rain barrels, bird feeders, worm composting bins, lawn furniture and much more! Are you tired yet? I think I am. It doesn’t matter how heavy things are, they can still be relocated in a high wind or hurricane, so it would be best to move them when there is time.

It is really much easier than it sounds unless we wait too long. All of us just need to start working on this ‘to do’ list now. Make sure you have space in your garage for many of these items and an empty wheelbarrow or other type garden cart to move things. Many items can be moved inside your home if they will not be consumed by your pets. A clothing rack with wheels works very well to move hanging plants from the porch into the garage. You don’t even have to remove them from the rack unless you have an extra garage door rail you are not using or need to make multiple trips from the porch. In that case, you may need more than one clothing rack.

Several years ago, a friend called me from out of state in the midst of hurricane season with one approaching. Her plea was for me to go to her house and put all of her outside potted plants and decorations in her garage. After working on this for an hour, I recruited another neighbor to help me. It was a good thing that one of her cars was at the airport because we needed a lot of space for all her yard things! That taught me a lesson for a while…ok, maybe a year.

Bottom line is: Call an arborist if you think you have potential tree issues. Prune shrubs that already appear to be top-heavy or damaged. Remove decorative items and/or potted plants that you have lost interest in, or that need to be, or can now be removed from your landscape. Drain the water from your rain barrel if high winds or a hurricane appear imminent and move it into your garage.

For horticultural assistance, contact the UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County,

813-744-5519, or visit at 5339 County Road 579, Seffner, FL  33584. Stroll through the Bette S. Walker Discovery Garden, our perennial garden and Girl Scout Troop created Pollinator Garden.

Check out our website which contains the calendar of events at We hope to see you at our upcoming workshops and remember to reduce, reuse, recycle and repeat.