The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season could well be a highly active one, with NOAA predicting a 60% chance of more than the average season’s 12 named storms. While we can’t control the weather here in South Florida, we can prepare for it and mitigate the damage to your landscape with some thoughtful planning. First is to categorize your to-do list into three general categories to account for the time involved to accomplish each: Immediately, During the Lull, and Long Term.


Following are the immediate safety precautions that should be taken when your property resides within NOAA’s Cone of Uncertainty for tropical storm-force winds or greater. Winds as “low” as 39mph—the bottom of the tropical storm range—can devastate an unsecured landscape.

Clear All Items and Debris

Coconuts to garden ornaments, lawn furniture, birdhouses, branches, pine cones, BBQ grills and virtually anything weighing less than 100 pounds, under the right conditions, can become airborne. If there’s any question at all, stow it so it doesn’t end up in your living room or your neighbor’s.

Trim Dead, Dying & Dangerous Tree Limbs

How many seasons have you intended to remove that huge oak limb overhanging your home? It’s not a matter of if, but when. Prune dead, dying or otherwise dangerous limbs and branches yourself that may fail under high winds, and don’t delay having the large ones professionally removed.

Turn Off Your Automatic Irrigation System

While some storms move through quickly with little rainfall, others are slow to pass and can drop huge amounts of precipitation. Overly saturated landscapes make the ground soft and unsteady, which can help trees and shrubs become uprooted and topple, particularly varieties with shallow roots.

During the Lull

As of this writing, we’re more than three weeks into the 2020 hurricane season, but there are currently no nearby tropical depressions rolling off the northwestern coast of Africa or tropical storms or hurricanes firming up in the Atlantic. Generally, that means we’ve got a little extra time to complete longer-range projects to help mitigate landscape damage in the event of high winds.

Stake and Brace Young Trees

Depending on the variety, young trees installed within the last year to two years might not have established a deep enough root system yet to remain firmly planted in high winds. Secure them while you have weeks to months to complete the work.

Trim Dead, Dying & Dangerous Tree Limbs

While the smaller DIY dead and dying branch removal and tree trimming can usually be done in a day or two, and wait until the last minute, if you’re still crossing your fingers about that huge limb overhanging your home, now is the time. Be sure to contract with an experienced professional with the right equipment and who is licensed and bonded.

Complete Any Landscape Projects In-Process

Many homeowners complete their own projects over multiple weekends, which entails landscaping and building materials left onsite week to week. Finish up that tiki hut, pergola or privacy fence, etc. while there’s time. Having to stow extra materials under the duress of a hurricane that’s setting its sights on your property not only adds to your stress level, but in the event of a fast-moving storm, you can literally run out of time to adequately prepare.

Long Term

Long-term landscape projects that involve big changes, improvements, installations and repairs are best completed during periods when you’re not in danger of being interrupted by powerful tropical weather.

Design and installation of new full and partial landscapes are best undertaken during the off-season. Not only does it give landscaping professionals time to do their job, but it allows newly installed plants and trees time to take root, adapt and thrive in their new environment. Healthy, mature plants and trees endure adverse weather much more successfully than newly planted specimens.

This is also a preferred time for irrigation work and installation of walkways, decks, pads, privacy fences, outdoor living space-related items and ornamental features