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Gulf Coast Gardening: Train Your Yard for the Toughest Storms

The summer storm season is upon us in the Gulf Coast. A few simple preparations now will help your landscape look its best and make any cleanup a snap.

water drop on green leaf

By Keri Leymaster

The best way to avoid summer storm damage is have your plants as healthy as possible before harsh conditions set in. Healthy plants have stronger root systems, and the best structures to withstand strong winds and tough weather. Read on to learn tips for your resilient garden.

  • Train trees to develop strong root systems by keeping bracing or supports no longer than one year. Supports act similarly to an ankle brace, keeping the trunk upright but not allowing the natural movement from wind to build strength in the stems. Once plants root in the soil, remove those stakes and straps.

 

dead branches on tree

  • Remove dead branches from trees and shrubs. Plants look better, and removal now eliminates cleanup after a strong storm. Look for branches that hang low when wet, and consider removing them while the sun shines.
palm tree
  • Avoid “hurricane pruning” palms. Palms transfer nutrients from old to new leaves, and that is important to their overall health. Research shows this severe type of pruning leaves plants weaker and more susceptible to damage.
Coontie, Zamia pumila, tolerates periods of wet soil
  • Use native plants. For areas prone to flooding, native plants, such as Coontie palms (Zamia pumila) or sand cordgrass (Spartina bakeri), do well. Sabal palms (Sabal palmetto) or bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) also are good trees for those areas. In our yard we use a mass planting of Coontie palms near our driveway where water collects after rain. These plants can handle waterlogged soil for short periods.

Don’t take summer storms sitting down. Get ready for them now so you can sit comfortably inside while the rain and wind blow.