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Coastal Gardening In The New York Region: How to Protect a Garden from Hurricane Damage

Damage following Superstorm Sandy; photo courtesy of Flickr CC/Kevin Jarrett
Damage following Superstorm Sandy; photo courtesy of Flickr CC/Kevin Jarrett

Hurricanes, the most powerful storms on Earth, are vast engines of wind and rain. As a storm reaches shore, the surge of huge waves causes flooding. Salt spray whipped up by the wind can travel as far as 50 miles inland and wind gusts full of sand blast homes and plants. So it is important to be prepared, especially if you have large trees with broken or dead branches.

Trees close to homes, buildings and power lines can cause serious damage. Seek out a certified arborist in your area to handle trees that pose the most immediate danger. These certified professionals can be located through the link to the International Society of Arboriculture website in the right column of this page.

Hurricane Protection Tips

  • Perhaps the best defense is offense. Establish windbreaks using walls, fences and hedge plantings. Choose more plants that are salt-tolerant, especially those with tough, waxy leaves and grey woolly foliage.
  • Prior to storms, remove all freestanding outdoor furniture and lightweight plantings in containers, as the winds can turn them into dangerous flying objects.
  • After storm damage, it may be possible to save some trees with living branches, so wait before you prune. Cover exposed roots and keep them damp. You may be able to save partially uprooted plants even after a few days or weeks.
  • If formerly shaded plants are now exposed and burning in the sun, provide temporary shelter. Wind-borne salt spray can also damage foliage, producing symptoms of scorching and burning.
  • As soils become inundated with salt water, salt-sensitive plant root hairs absorb water, and the accumulated salts destroy plant cells. Too much salt will also remove moisture from the leaves. It is helpful to rinse off foliage with water to remove salt water residue and lessen the probability of scorching.

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