Have you thought of ways to protect your home other than having the right insurance and a well-built home? How about having resilient landscaping? That's right, a resilient landscape and yard! Choosing the right landscaping can be the difference between a tree being in your living room (Oh my!), or increased protection from wind and flooding.
Whether it's your current home or the one you’re deciding to build or buy, look at the land it’s built on or will be constructed on and ask yourself these questions:
- Are these trees healthy? Trees that are afflicted by disease or decay are much weaker than healthy trees. Some signs of disease are the loss of leaves (other than in fall or winter), fungus growth, brittle limbs or bark, holes, and soft or spongy wood. If you spot trees that are diseased or rotten, remove them. We know this can be expensive to do, but so is yanking the same tree out of your kitchen after a storm. Consult a certified Arborist if you need help identifying trees to remove, that need pruning, trimming or that need some help to be brought back to good health.
- Are large trees too close to the house or power lines? Even strong, healthy trees can fail against high wind combined with rain. If trees are too close to your home or power lines, they could fall and leave you with a nasty mess to clean up. If you don't remove them, at least keep them trimmed back as much as you can.
- Is there a place where rainwater settles? If there is, this can be good or bad. If that gathering place is near or under your home, then consider using swales, berms or other techniques to divert the water. If water settles at a far end of your property and doesn't put another home at risk; you’re good!
Now, that you know your yard, add shrubs, trees or vegetation to protect your home better. For example, combining grouped trees with dense hedges around the bases can reduce the wind hitting your home in a storm. When you are deciding what vegetation to use in your landscape, consider the climate you live in and how it affects your home and property. A coastal home will have different native plants and protection needs than an inland home. Research which trees are best for your area, the risks your home will face, your natural climate and environment and which plantings will fit into the aesthetic you are aiming for in your landscaping. Some good general rules are:
- Choose trees and shrubs with deep growing root systems. Healthy root systems are what keep the wind from toppling your vegetation even after the ground is rain saturated.
- Stick to a reasonable size. Don’t go for a tree that will grow to be enormous for a small garden right next to your home. Not leaving enough room to grow prevents trees from sinking their roots securely into the ground and increases the risk a tree will start rubbing against surrounding structures or other trees. Make sure you get the right species of tree, many smaller trees have larger cousins, like Crepe Myrtles.
- Think about trees with flexible trunks and limbs. A tree that is known to be brittle and unyielding to the wind, like Bradford Pears, are typically not good species to plant. Look for trees that tend to have some give in the wind. Compare trees based on their wind resistance.
Learn more about how to build a stronger home and how to insure it properly. Then decide which trees, shrubs, vegetation, and other landscaping elements add both beauty and strength to the surroundings of your home. Happy planting!