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hurricane PREP In harm’s way Unhealthy trees and branches should be removed now as hurricane season begins BY Dan Gill IT’S LIKELY you have already begun thinking about the upcoming hurricane season, which runs from June to November. If you haven’t, now is the time to start. An above average number of hurricanes is predicted to occur this year. On top of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the last thing we want to hear.   Don’t let coronavirus issues distract you, however. There are lots of things to consider as we anticipate the coming hurricane season, including how your landscape will hold up should a strong storm hit our area, and what you need to do to get ready. What to do now When evaluating your landscape with storms in mind, first look at your larger shade trees — particularly those close to the house. Dead trees should be removed immediately. A tree that is sickly, low in vigor and/or shows significant signs of rotten or decayed areas in the trunk should be cut down, especially if it poses a threat to buildings on your property or your neighbor’s.   Large, older water oaks (Quercus nigra) are of particular concern. They tend to develop extensive trunk rot as they age, and are one of the most common tree species that blow over in hurricanes. Mature water oaks are large trees 60 to 80 feet tall and are very destructive to buildings when they fall. If you have mature water oaks, have them professionally evaluated by a licensed arborist.   With all trees on your property, look for branches that hang low over the house close to the roof, and have those pruned away. In addition, look for any large dead branches in the tree. These should also be removed.   Large trees that are one sided or significantly leaning can be pruned to balance out the canopy. After prolonged rain associated with many hurricanes, the soil may be so soft that trees can topple over if the weight is not properly distributed.   Hiring a professional arborist to evaluate your trees and getting problems corrected takes time. That’s why it’s so important to take care of trees now, well before a hurricane threatens. A list of licensed arborists by parish is available from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s website at tinyurl.com/y7m7fkpx. Ar- borists are part of the essential work force and are still operating despite the shutdown. All practicing arborists must be licensed by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. Be sure to see a copy of their license.   You also need to make plans for how you will deal with and secure loose objects in your landscape, such as potted plants and lawn fur- ABOVE: Hurricane Isaac knocked down this live oak tree on an Uptown street, but the tree’s root system may have been damaged before the storm. Road repair and construction of sidewalks, driveways and parking lots can impact the structure of a tree’s root system, diminishing its ability to hold the tree up. MAY 2020 PRCNO.org • PRESERVATION IN PRINT   15