10 August 18  |  Living   |  

Preparing Plants for Major Weather Events

Combatting Hurricanes with Horticulture

Let’s face it, hurricanes and horticulture do not mix. But at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club, we’re doing our best to prepare our plants for any major weather events that may come. Bob Hollis and his crew start with pruning and fertilization, and while the bulk of their work comes after the storm has passed, there are plenty of processes to be completed year-round. These processes may even provide you with a few pointers for maintaining your own yard.


Plant Possibilities

Before scooping a pile of dirt or spraying water onto a leaf of any kind, horticulturists know that the severity of any storm is unclear until the event occurs. That being said, following an all-year, balanced fertilization program can help with plant root establishment and the strengthening of root systems. Strong roots are less apt to loosen from the soil and sand when the wind blows in different directions. Planting hardwoods complements a good fertilization program, since they are sturdier than softwoods and shallow-rooted plants and trees, and therefore, will not damage or uproot as easily.

Pruning is also an art in and of itself. Weakened or low-hanging limbs that lay precariously over your home should be pruned when weather permits. In fact, the way that trees are pruned could lessen the possibility of storm or wind damage. The horticultural crew at Golden Ocala has already pruned many low-hanging oaks after spending most of their post-Hurricane-Irma days cleaning up areas filled with damaged and weakened trees. But none of these efforts would hold weight without a fertilization program that evolves by season and includes the use of different fertilizers and chemicals. The use of fertilizers and chemicals are determined according to a tree-by-tree assessment of nutrient needs, seasonal impact, potential systemic issues and the need for vigor enhancement. Most adjustments to the fertilization program are made during the off-season — unless, of course, a specific program needs to be addressed midseason.


Hurricane and Heavy Rain Hurdles

Wind is a major player during a severe weather event, contributing to the aforementioned weakening of roots and downed trees. Hence why cleanup mode, damage control and repair are critical in the post-storm phase. This includes a judgment call regarding whether trees can be saved or must be removed.

Normal heavy rains are often associated with washouts, as well as clogged roadside drains and catch basins. Some tree roots grow towards the water, making their way into water pipes and causing concrete sidewalks to crumble. Therefore, plants should never be placed near areas that are prone to clogging. And if trees are already in place, they should be monitored by professionals like the ones at Golden Ocala.

Storms of various magnitudes are inevitable in this part of the country, but experience and regularly scheduled maintenance can lessen the post-storm impact in a significant way. For Golden Ocala, that means leveraging parts of a fertilization plan that worked and tweaking those that did not, as well as eliminating plants and parts of plants that will not make it through another major weather event. If you are seeking additional tips or want more information about how Bob Hollis and his team are preparing the grounds for your benefit, call (352) 402-4365.