You’ve stocked your home with non-perishable foods, water, and batteries for the next New Orleans hurricane. But have you remembered to prepare your landscape? Overgrown branches, yard debris, and hard mulches are storm hazards waiting to damage your home.
No landscape is entirely hurricane-proof. But a slight adjustment to your landscape design, such as a carefully placed tree, can make all the difference. Find out how you can protect your home with these 10 hurricane-resistant landscape ideas for New Orleans.
- 1. Plant wind-resistant trees
- 2. Place trees away from house and power lines
- 3. Plant trees in groups
- 4. Prune and trim
- 5. Choose salt-tolerant plants
- 6. Apply soft mulch
- 7. Install hurricane-resistant fencing
- 8. Build a seawall
- 9. Clear storm drain paths
- 10. Remove storm hazards
- Prioritize your NOLA landscape
1. Plant wind-resistant trees
A tree falling onto the roof can be devastating during a storm. With winds reaching up to 157 mph or more, a hurricane can rip the strongest trees out of the ground.
When designing your landscape, consider growing trees with high wind resistance. Why? Because a wind-resistant tree is more likely to survive a hurricane’s fury than a tree with poor wind resistance.
Louisiana State University (LSU) Landscape Professor D.G. “Buck” Abbey recommends the following hurricane-resistant trees:
- Bald cypress
- Black gum
- Cow oak
- Iron wood
- Live oak
- Mexican fan palm
- Sabal palm
- Shumard oak
- Windmill palm
- Winged elm
Here are some trees that will struggle to survive a hurricane:
- Box elders
- Ornamental pears
- Red cedars
- Silver maples
- Some elms
- Some red oaks
Cost: Planting a tree can cost anywhere between $22 and $3,300, depending on its size. You’ll save a lot more cash if you plant small trees or saplings than large trees.
2. Place trees away from house and power lines
Once you’ve decided which trees to grow in your landscape, you’ll need to find a safe place to plant them. Planting a tree right next to your home is not hurricane-safe, regardless of whether it’s wind-resistant.
Growing your trees away from the house, power lines, and other nearby structures lowers the risk of severe property damage. If a tree falls during a hurricane, it’s less likely to damage your property if it’s growing far away.
Cost: It likely won’t cost you extra to plant trees away from your home, but it will save you from expensive damages. If you need to transplant existing trees, expect to pay between $158 and $880 per tree.
3. Plant trees in groups
Planting trees in groups is another way to out-smart a hurricane (rather than spreading them out). Why? Because grouping trees increases wind resistance and creates a wind buffer that can help protect your home.
Cost: Buying multiple trees or saplings during one shopping trip may save you more than making multiple purchases over several trips.
4. Prune and trim
Do your trees, hedges, and shrubs have overgrown branches? It’s about time you prune and trim them back. High winds can snap off overgrown, weak branches and send them flying toward your car or home windows.
If a long branch is hanging over your home, you’ll want to trim it back right away. Hire a qualified arborist to inspect your trees for overgrown, hazardous branches. You’ll also need to remove dead or dying trees from your landscape, which an arborist can do for you.
Cost: Hedge trimming costs around $57 per hour. Professional bush trimming costs about $9 per bush, and tree trimming costs around $428 per tree. Tree removal typically costs between $347 and $1177 per tree.
5. Choose salt-tolerant plants
A hurricane’s high winds and crashing waves can spray tiny droplets of saltwater into the air that travel miles inland. If your home is near the Gulf of Mexico or Lake Pontchartrain, consider growing plants that can withstand the salt.
Large amounts of salt can dry out salt-intolerant plants, prevent their roots from absorbing water, and limit nutrient absorption.
Pro Tip: Grow salt-tolerant plants that are native, too. Native plants are often low-maintenance, develop deep root systems, and require fewer fertilizers and pesticides than non-native plants. Salt-tolerant plants that are native to the Louisiana coast include:
- Sea blight (Suaeda linearis)
- Railroad vine (Ipomoea pes-caprae)
- Beach morning glory (Ipomoea imperati)
- Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)
Cost: A professionally installed flower bed costs between $585 and $3,300 on average, depending on the project’s scope.
6. Apply soft mulch
When designing your flower beds, remember to use soft mulches rather than hard mulches. Soft mulches include shredded bark, wood chips, shredded leaves, and pine needles.
So why should you avoid hard mulches like river rock, pea gravel, and landscape glass? Because a hurricane’s high winds will send mulch flying, and hard mulches will dent and scrape your cars, windows, and siding. Soft mulches won’t cause as much damage.
Cost: Mulch prices vary depending on the type of mulch and where you buy it. Ordering a wood chip delivery from a supplier costs around $70 per cubic yard. On the other hand, a local community program or tree company might supply wood chips for free. You can find some mulch options in your backyard, such as pine needles, newspaper, shredded leaves, and grass clippings.
7. Install hurricane-resistant fencing
Fences are a great way to provide safety and privacy to the yard. They help block wandering eyes, keep out unwanted visitors, and establish a boundary for your pets and children to play in.
If you decide to install a fence around the yard, consider hiring a fence builder who specializes in designing and installing hurricane-resistant fences. A hurricane will wipe out a fence that’s poorly installed or made of low-quality materials.
Here are two tips to remember when installing a fence:
Choose metal over wood: Wood fences bring natural warmth to the landscape, but they won’t stand up against 150-mph winds or a falling tree. Metal is more durable than wood and is more likely to withstand a hurricane’s wrath. Metal fences create elegant scenery, and you needn’t compromise on design and beauty.
Vinyl is another popular fencing option. It’s salt-resistant, waterproof, and will outlast wood fencing. Despite these benefits, it’s vulnerable to damage during extreme weather conditions and dents easily. Metal fences, such as steel or wrought iron, are more likely to tolerate the impact of flying debris during a storm.
Say yes to slatted fencing: Solid fences look tough and durable, but high winds will topple them down. On the other hand, wind can pass through slatted fences with ease. Slatted fences minimize wind resistance and are less likely to fall down during a hurricane.
Cost: Most homeowners pay $7 to $51 per linear foot to build a fence, depending on the materials. Chain-link fences (often called hurricane or cyclone fences) cost between $6 and $36 per linear foot.
8. Build a seawall
If your home is right along the Gulf Coast, your property may benefit from a seawall. Crashing waves and high water levels due to storm surge may result in flooding. By installing a seawall, you give your yard an extra layer of protection and minimize the potential for floodwaters and erosion.
Seawall materials include wood, steel, vinyl, concrete, and riprap (rocks).
Cost: The average residential seawall project ranges between $113 and $770 per linear foot, depending on the project’s materials and complexity.
9. Clear storm drain paths
Stormwater runoff escapes the yard via storm drains. The last thing you want is to block these storm drains when designing your hurricane-resistant landscape. If a landscape feature blocks the storm drain path, the water won’t have anywhere to go, and your property may flood.
Cost: Are leaves clogging your storm drains or blocking the path? Professional leaf removal typically costs between $73 and $511, depending on the yard’s size.
10. Remove storm hazards
Clear your yard of anything you don’t want flying through your windows during a hurricane. That includes garden benches, outdoor toys, bicycles, and heavy branches.
Pro Tip: Keep branches and other yard debris off the lawn as much as possible. You don’t want to be scrambling around hours before a tropical storm.
Cost: If hazardous branches and yard debris are cluttering your landscape, you can hire professional yard cleanup to remove the debris for you. Yard cleanup prices range between $154 and $411.
Prioritize your NOLA landscape
New Orleanians are no stranger to hurricanes. Hurricane Ida left the New Orleans area and parts of Louisiana without power for weeks. Hurricane Katrina was among the worst natural disasters in the United States’ history and made landfall near New Orleans as a category 3 hurricane.
We can expect climate change to bring more storms like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Ida. Be proactive this hurricane season and protect your home from falling trees, high winds, and broken glass. Be mindful about where you plant your trees, trim hazardous branches, and remove debris that may smash through your windows.
A hurricane-resistant landscape serves an essential purpose, but it can be beautiful, too. Keeping your lawn well maintained is a simple way to preserve a charming landscape. Need help with the lawn mowing, trimming, and fertilizing? Hire a local New Orleans lawn care pro to handle the job for you.
Main Photo Credit: krisr1 | Pixabay