Hurricane prep in the garden – what should we be doing?



Here's what I'm doing in my own garden but I bet it isn't enough here in D.C., scheduled to take the worst of Irene between tomorrow night and midday Sunday.

  • I took in all the garden furniture, at least the lightweight stuff.
  • I'm taking in as many pots as I can, leaving only the heaviest and bunching the others in seemingly more protected spots.
  • I'm thinking about using sheets or weighted-down tarps over the bare spots of earth on a slope.
  • It's not too late to do a little pruning of trees and large shrubs, to remove anything dead or dying and create more openings for wind to pass through.

Of course that's just the garden and more importantly, the power company is telling us – by making automated phone calls to every single customer, which I just now received – to prepare for several days without power.  I hate it when that happens!

ADDENDUM:  I found some very authoritative-looking landscape prep advice on the Metro DC Lawn and Garden Blog. Written by Floridian Betsy Franz, who ought to know.

Photo credit:  Flatbush Gardener. 


  1. Thinking of you Susan as we wait out Irene here in N.C. I’m told that we should be okay in the Raleigh area but you never know.

    Hope your garden will not suffer too much damage.C

  2. Schedule an arborist to come out to inspect your trees next week right now, or as soon as possible as they will be in high demand all next week. Best to get your name in at the top of the queue.

  3. Susan, if you are covering the bare soil on the slope use a sheet that is held down by anchors into the soil, if you only weigh it down those rocks will become airborne when the wind lifts the sheet.Hopefully the sheet will be drenched enough by rain to be held down by anchors. I do hope you and yours will stay safe and unharmed.
    I am NOT looking forward to Saturday night,that’s when we are expecting the worst too.

  4. I always sink as many pots as I can in the soil so they will be less likely to become missiles.
    It always takes a second or third look around the garden as there are hanging baskets that have been forgotten about because they have blended in so well, garden art, bird feeders, etc. I hate hurricane season!
    Wishing you well today.

  5. Well, I moved almost everything off my small Brooklyn terrace (100+ orchids, a bunch of tropicals, and all pots under 10″, and laid down larger shrubs, and now the apartment looks like I hijacked a truck on its way to Logee’s. Here’s what I didn’t anticipate — wasps!

    Seems like they have a nest in one of the containers I brought in, and I’ve had to swat a dozen already as they buzz around the windows. I hate to do it, since these aren’t paper wasps and I don’t think they’re aggressive, but wasps and the family cooped up inside during a hurricane is a bad mix. It makes me wonder what the impact will be on all the smaller fauna in our gardens, as well as the lost leaves, branches, flowers, etc.

  6. About the hurricane’s impact on smaller fauna: I’m just outside DC, to the north, and even though it’s been raining steadily for a few hours with occasional wind bursts, the hummingbirds continue to come to my feeders. Not sure if that means anything but it’s always tempting to think they are stocking up because they know something big is coming.

  7. I was a little surprised when I drove to Home Depot a little earlier how many people had NOT prepped their yards- Hanging plants everywhere, light pots on porches etc. I am grateful that my immediate neighbors have done a nice job securing potential missiles in their yards!

    I cleared out my vegetable garden also in my prep. I assume they wouldn’t make it through the winds- especially since everything was soooo tall (Pole beans, Tomatoes) I figure I’ll just plant my fall vegetables once the storm has passed.

  8. Nancy, when I went looking in FLickr for “storm damage garden” I found this photo by Xris – the Flatbush Gardener. There was no more info given, but I’ll send him this link and ask.

  9. It’s passed us by here–I’m just outside of Raleigh, and we got a windy day with drizzle, nothing too exciting. Lost the top off a tree, but it was dead anyway and waiting to come down, and far enough outside the fence that it’s nobody’s problem.

  10. Good luck! We tried to bungee cord down what we could and moved pots to sheltered locations. I’m in Alexandria and the winds are really getting bad now. Hope you’re not as affected in Takoma Park.

  11. Ditto on skipping the sheet-I don’t think there’s any way that wouldn’t get ripped off (in the future)

    I also wouldn’t trust anything that is tied down. Hurricane winds are so strong that even tying or taping things is unlikely to hold them.

    (This is all for next time, of course.)

    MY hurricane prep is that I need to get control of my garage enough to put at least ONE of our cars inside it!!!!! 🙂

  12. I’m back for my hurricane report – no damage done to MY house or garden but unfortunately, dozens of huge trees down in my n’hood, rendering 80 percent of my town powerless. I don’t even have a cell phone connection.
    So all the news reports about how we “bit the bullet” or Irene didn’t do much after all? I’m not amused.

    Thankful for free Wifi at Panera and some nearby friends with power.

  13. Good to know you are OK. I was just reading about parking stops, those concrete things at the head of parking spaces and are usually held in place with rebar rods. It seems the storm tossed them around like pick up sticks. Scary!

    If a storm can pick up and fling around heavy concrete things like that,just imagine what it would do to those large, 20″+, ceramic pots I thought would be safe because of their weight. Scary!

    Worst part is there is still another “invest” out there.

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