Helping Rebuild your landscape, one plan at a time!
The storm has passed and now it’s time to rebuild ( or at least clean up) the aftermath of a storm. This task can seem like a burden and an ordeal for any property owner or tenant, and requires much more time and effort than picking up a few branches and broken limbs. This historical catastrophic storm in Houston has has left behind, broken homes, business and heavily damaged trees along with other large pieces of landscape that can be potentially hazardous if not taken care of as soon as possible.
It’s best to take a step back and formulate a strategic plan for the cleanup, think landscape professionals. If you are inexperienced or elderly we would discourage you from tackling any potentially dangerous situation during cleanups, and shouldn’t “do it yourself”. This decision will all depend on the extent of storm damage, calling the experts to remove debris like fallen trees is always a good idea. We often hear stories of maintenance staff on client properties that have tried to cut a tree and they become severely injured and /or disabled due to lack of proper equipment and skills. You do not want to try and save money and think just anyone can cut up a tree, it is best to hire a professional. (Utility providers, should be contacted when dealing with powerlines or “hot lines” that are tangled in trees.) Our goal here is to help you create a strategic game plan and not jump into a clean up too quickly. Below are some helpful tips and precautions for restoring a storm-damage landscape.
1. Identify Potential Hazards Before Storm Cleanup: Determining any access issues to the home, cars or entrances and exits elsewhere on the property, is priority. Also, identify potential dangers, like trees that are unstable and limbs hanging in tree canopies.
2. Use Extreme Caution when Cutting or Removing Trees: Trees are extremely heavy and can cause serious injury or death. During the cutting and removal process trees can shift, “jump” or roll. This is why serious injuries or even death can occur if you don’t understand how the weight shifts as you cut.
3. Inspect Standing Trees for Instability and Potential Removal: After broken limbs and other debris have been removed, it is very CRITICAL that a careful assessment be made regarding additional tree trimming to stabilize and rebalance the damaged trees. A tree that looks like it fully survived the storm may actually be damaged. A close inspection of the tree to determine if any structural damage has been done is highly recommended.
4. Prune Smaller Trees, Shrubs and Perennials Affected by Storm Damage: Smaller ornamental trees, shrubs and perennials are often affected by storm damage. A determination should be made if the damaged plant life can be salvaged or if removal is necessary. Each plant heals in its own way and some may not be able to overcome the damage. You can choose to begin a new landscape plan or finds ways to replace/restore your existing lawn/garden beds, determining the cost to replace vs unsightliness of recovery time should help you make that decision.
5. Inspect Landscape for Drainage Issues: Storms often produce heavy rains that can wash away a landscape and drainage system could be inspected and adjusted accordingly. By accessing any soil erosion and changes to site drainage, one can determine if a problem exists and find the best way to solve the issue. Now is also the time to remove mulch that has been washed off and replenish.
6. Standing Water: Handle with care: Standing water resulting from heavy rains and flooding can be a health hazard, especially in extreme circumstances when the home has been flooded. Water from a flooded structure can contain fecal material from overflowing sewage systems as well as agricultural and industrial waste. The CDC recommends wearing protective clothing and gloves, and keeping open cuts or sores exposed to floodwater as clean as possible by washing them with soap and applying an antibiotic ointment to discourage infection during cleanup.
With the help of a professional and having a well-organized plan you can get your landscape back to its feet in no time! While the severe weather may appear to be done, now that the storm moved out, several factors should be considered before tackling a cleanup: Hire a professional when possible, create a plan to clean up – do not rush, and please use caution when handling flood waters.