Photo: Sally Scalera, Florida Today
A tree that is too close to sidewalks, driveways or streets is prone to blowing over in a storm.

Photo: Sally Scalera, Florida Today
Call in a certified arborist if you find a root girdling a large tree in your yard.

“…Though I do not expect a bad hurricane season (blame it on optimism), it is always best to be prepared. If you own large trees that are 50 feet or taller, complete this checklist as soon as you can.

Location. Check to see if any large trees are planted less than 12 feet from a sidewalk, driveway or street. Any closer is not recommended, because trees can cause damage by lifting and cracking cement. If you do have a large tree planted too close, consider consulting a certified arborist to determine if the tree needs the canopy thinned because of a lack of proper rooting area.

Look for girdling roots. Walk around your trees to see if any girdling roots are visible. A girdling root will be growing on the surface of the soil, close to and around the trunk. Girdling roots can eventually strangle a portion of the trunk, which, if it wraps half-way around the trunk or more, could kill the tree. If a girdling root is present, consult a certified arborist…

Know your roots. Has there been any construction activity within approximately 20 feet of the tree trunk within the past 10 years? If large roots have been cut close to the trunk to make way for things such as a sidewalk or utilities, the tree may be prone to falling in the direction where the roots were cut.

Don’t scalp your palms. Never let anyone do a “hurricane cut” on your palms to protect them from being blown over during a hurricane. Palms, in general, fair well through hurricanes, but the practice of removing all but a few of the fronds can make the palm more vulnerable to damage during straight line winds or a hurricane.

A large canopy of fronds protects the terminal bud, but when most of the fronds are removed, the bud is more vulnerable to being snapped by the wind. Once the bud is snapped, the entire palm will die. So, do not let anyone remove green fronds, or fronds with both green and yellow tissue in the same frond. Only totally brown fronds should be removed.”

— Sally Scalera, Florida Today

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Citizens for a Scenic Florida