Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Is your landscape storm-ready? (Part 2)

Planting Wind Resistant Trees in Your Landscape

Dr. Ed Gilman, Professor of Environmental Horticulture, University of Florida, consulting with a resident on wind resistant tree selection.
This week's blog was written by guest blogger Jane Morse.  Jane Morse is the Pinellas County Commercial Horticulture Extension Agent.  This is part two of a three-part series.

After you have selected a tree for your yard and are getting ready to plant it, you need to picture it full grown.  Make sure mature trees will have lots of space, both in the air and in the soil, which gives them a better chance of surviving storms.  Plant smaller trees near homes, power lines and other structures.

All trees need a certain amount of root space based on their mature size.  Trees smaller than 30 feet tall need a soil area of at least 10-by-10 feet and should be at least two feet from paved surfaces.  Medium trees with a height and spread less than 50 feet need at least 20 x 20 feet should be six feet from pavement.  Trees with a height and spread greater than 50 feet need at least a 30-by- 30 foot area and should be 10 feet from pavement.  More space is needed if there is a high water table and the roots have less than a depth of 3 feet for rooting.

When planting for shade it is more important to shade the east and west walls of a house than the roof. Small trees planted fairly close to the house for wall shade will be less hazardous than large trees which can fall on the house.  For more information, see these links: Urban Design for a Wind Resistant Urban Forest and Choosing Suitable Trees for Urban and Suburban Sites.

If you are a do-it-yourself landscaper, dig the hole wide and shallow so that the top 10% of the root ball is above ground level.  The outer inch or so of the root ball should be shaved off to remove all circling roots, and mulch should be applied 3 inches thick and in an area 2 feet in diameter for each inch of tree trunk diameter.  Mulch should come up to the edge of the root ball, but not cover it.  Roots will expand best when there are no soil differences, so it is best to stick with the natural soil and not amend the planting hole.  Establishment takes time and providing enough water is critical to tree survival.  For more detail see this link: Planting Trees and Shrubs.

Next week Part 3: Properly Training Your Trees for Wind Resistance

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Is your landscape storm-ready? (Part 1)

This week's blog was written by guest blogger Jane Morse.  Jane Morse is the Pinellas County Commercial Horticulture Extension Agent.  This is part one of a three-part series.

Part 1: Wind Resistant Trees for Your Landscape

When it comes to trees and storms, there are victims and there are survivors.  The question to ask yourself before the next – inevitable – big Florida storm is: Will your tree survive or will it come crashing down on your roof?

Trees have a lot to contend with during storms. High winds snap them and break off branches.  Rain loosens the soil, making it harder for the roots to hold them up.  And the longer it takes for storms to move through an area, the more water accumulates in the soil and the more battering the trees take.

A tree’s survival comes down to whether it is resistant to wind, if it is properly planted and pruned, has enough space for its root system, and is in good health.  Trees with these properties can help to protect your home during a storm.  Or at least minimize damage.  Here are some things to consider when adding new trees to your landscape:

That some trees are naturally more resistant to wind has been shown by surveying those still standing after hurricanes.  They include southern magnolia, yaupon holly, dahoon holly, podocarpus, crape myrtle, pondcypress and baldcypress.  Palms in this category include pindo, areca, Alexander and sabal.  You can find a more comprehensive list at:

According to the University of Florida's "Trees and Hurricanes," some of the weaker trees are ash, maple, water oaks, pecan, tulip poplar, Bradford pear, southern red oak, Australian pine, floss-silk tree, weeping banyan, silk oak and jacaranda.

Next week: Part 2, Planting Wind Resistant Trees in Your Landscape

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Oh Deer...

This week's blog was written by guest blogger Lara Miller.  Lara Miller is the Pinellas County Natural Resources Extension Agent.

Tired of planting trees, shrubs, vines and flowers only to find them damaged by deer just days later? Pinellas County is a very urbanized county where human developments have replaced native deer habitats.  This in turn limits the availability of natural food preferred by deer.  In cases like this, deer adapt by feeding on gardens around homes.  While fencing and chemical repellents are options for reducing damage by deer, a simpler, less expensive and usually more effective alternative is to landscape your yard with plants that deer do not like to eat.

Deer feed upon a variety of vegetation, but are turned away by certain tastes and digestibility.  This preference for certain plants can be altered if deer populations increase in an area forcing them to feed on other vegetation they wouldn’t normally consume.

There are many common garden plants in Florida that are least susceptible to damage by deer.  For example, many palms, some holly, several ferns, and certain lilies have been identified as deer-resistant plants.  The tables of rarely damaged plants found in the link below may be used to guide planting decisions in areas where damage from deer is likely to be problem.  Additional information on Pinellas county natural resources can be obtained through attending educational programs offered by University of Florida Extension Agents.  For a list of upcoming programs visit:

Frequently asked questions of Pinellas County residents are posted at  Visit this site to see if your question has already been asked or to post a question of your own.  Stay up to date with publications from Extension by liking us on facebook.