Shade Trees Hurricanes And Southwest Florida

Having just experienced the wrath of Hurricane Irma and as we are going through the cleanup process there may be a pause for thought to rid our landscapes of what we deem to be “messy” shade trees.

Gumbo Limbo Trees in the Everglades National Park

Yes, Hurricane Irma has become an inconvenience and so will future storms. However, it is imperative that we learn to preserve our urban tree canopy. Research over the years has confirmed the significant value and benefits that mature urban trees offer to our neighborhoods. A number of our neighborhoods have smaller trees that were decimated by Irma’s strong winds. It is these trees that are going to become mature tree canopy of tomorrow.

With new attention being paid to global warming causes and impacts more is becoming known about negative environmental impacts of treeless urban neighborhoods. We at GreenTech SOS, Inc. would like to impress upon the community at large to help save those trees that may have been adversely impacted by Hurricane Irma.

If, for some reason you are unable to save a particular shade tree and would like to consider replacing your shade tree; I would like to take this opportunity to make the following recommendations:

· replace with trees that are slow-growing trees stand a better chance against hurricanes

· native trees, especially those with a wide-spreading canopy, low center of gravity, strong deep penetrating roots, and a small leaf size may hold up better and tropical storms especially if they are growing in a cluster of trees.

· Southern Magnolias fared extremely well during Hurricane Irma. I was amazed to see very little damage to recently planted Southern Magnolias, especially in the Lakewood Ranch area. Their large leaves seem to withstand the high wind speeds.

Please find a list of “not so common” shade tree replacements for your landscape:

o Sand Oak
o Pigeon Plum
o Ironwood
o Fiddlewood
o Gumbo Limbo
o Spicewood
o Myrsine
o Marbleberry
o Green Buttonwood
o Pond Apple
o Wild Cinnamon
o Sweet Mahogany

· Finally, it is important to consider planting your trees in groves or clusters, all the while keeping in mind that a significant amount of our community trees are native trees that have evolved to withstand coastal storms and flooding.

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