Wind-Resilient, Florida-Friendly Landscape Design and Management (presentations in English and Spanish attached!)

South Florida sustained a lot of damage in the landscape in recent hurricanes.  We may be half a year away from hurricane season, but it is important to always design with year-round weather in mind.  Your clients may want to know what they should plant and how they should design landscapes with an emphasis on wind-resilience.  Appropriate landscape design can reduce damage sustained in a hurricane, while poor design and plant selection can contribute to the extent of the damage.

In 2002, a small coastal village in India planted over 80,000 trees to break a Guiness book world record.  About two years later, when the Tsunami ravaged parts of India, this village sustained very minimal damage, thanks to the buffering of the trees.  This is a great example of how landscape can be used to increase storm resistance in the landscape.


Last year, your UF / IFAS Palm Beach County Cooperative Extension Service offered a Paisaje, Arboles, y Huracanes / Landscape, Trees, & Hurricanes workshop.  If you missed it, you can check out this presentation that was given:  

El año pasado, UF / IFAS Palm Beach County Cooperative Extension Service ofreció un taller  sobre Paisaje, Arboles, y Huracanes / Landscape, Trees, & Hurricanes workshopSi te lo perdiste, aquí puedes ver la presentación.


Certain factors in landscape design contribute to wind resilience.  These include:

  • Proper tree selection (the right tree for the right place)
  • Choosing appropriate, wind-resilient species
  • Planting in groups
  • Planting for diversity
  • Using planting strips instead of small islands
  • Providing healthy soil
  • Planting trees with quality structure
  • Caring for trees properly

I can’t stress the importance of right tree, right place enough.  Plan to avoid conflict between trees and hardscapes and to match planting space to the full-grown size of the tree.  Some species have been favored by professionals in the horticulture industry for being more “wind-tolerant”.  However, we stress that any tree can be a wind-resilient or failure-prone tree based on where it is planted and the care it has received.  Trees in groups tend to sustain less damage than single trees standing alone in a landscape.  We recommend planting trees in groups of 5 or more.

ROOTS. Circling/girdling root systems are one of the most common reasons for failure in the landscape.  We often don’t think about what lies beneath the surface of the soil.  Circling roots will never grow out in the landscape.  As the canopy of the tree increases, the root ball stays small, which is why we see trees with circling roots fail in storms.  Inspect trees and root systems prior to planting!

TREE CARE. Another component of wind-resilient landscape design and management is in caring for trees properly.  Urban trees face many more challenges that trees in natural areas, and its necessary to protect them and maintain them properly.

PRUNING. In regards to pruning, trees that are properly pruned for structure are generally less likely to fail, while trees that have been improperly pruned are more likely to fail.  Structural defects and practices that cause failure include codominant stems and bark inclusions, topped trees, large pruning cuts (create opening for decay), trunks with decay, overpruned palms, and overlifted trees. Hatracking, or topping trees, is also discouraged and creates the potential for a hazardous tree.

For more information, please see the presentations linked above.


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