Trim trees now to prepare for upcoming storm season

Unhealthy and damaged trees can be the cause of major damage to your home during a hurricane.

  • By
  • | 12:33 p.m. May 16, 2024
Palm tree pruner cleaning a washingtonia palm tree with blade and safety harness. Palm tree cleaning concept.
Palm tree pruner cleaning a washingtonia palm tree with blade and safety harness. Palm tree cleaning concept.
Ardat pics -
  • Hurricane
  • Share

June 1 marks the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season, which lasts until Nov. 30. In preparation, Orange County homeowners are being advised to keep their trees trimmed and healthy. If maintained properly, healthy, mature trees can help shield your home during a storm. Keeping them professionally pruned will allow hurricane-force winds to pass through them, as this will lessen the chances they blow over.

Healthy, trimmed trees are critical to avoiding potential damage to the home due to flying debris.

Professional pruning should be done every few years by a certified, insured arborist. Look for an arborist who provides written quotes before agreeing to have any work done. It is important to have your tree-care specialist evaluate branch patterns that may be susceptible to wind damage. Dead wood, especially, can substantially damage your home during high winds.

Sometimes, an arborist may recommend removing large, unhealthy and damaged trees that are close to your home to avoid potential hurricane damage. If unhealthy or damaged trees are removed, always ask the arborist to recommend a replacement tree you can plant.

As should always be the case when having any work done in or around your house, make sure permits have been properly prepared before you agree to have trees removed or have other substantial hurricane preparation work completed.

Please note that Orange County Government does not provide tree trimming and arborist services to residents on private property. To find an ISA-certified arborist in your area who does provide these services, please visit For more information on how to prepare for a hurricane, visit

If you have palm trees, you may be wondering about the proper way to prune them.

Some palm trees don’t need to be pruned. These include the native cabbage palm, which automatically sheds its dead leaves.

If you have palms that aren’t self-cleaning, you may choose to prune them periodically. Just use a pole saw to remove any brown fronds. Leave the green fronds alone, because they are the energy factory for the tree.

If you hire a tree service, don’t let them climb with tree spikes, because these cause permanent damage to the trunk.

When it comes to pruning palm trees, less is usually better. You never want to over-prune your palms by subjecting them to what’s called “hurricane pruning” or “hurricane cutting,” where all but a few fronds are cut off.

Palms are naturally able to withstand the high winds that hurricanes bring, so removing fronds isn’t necessary. In fact, it can damage the palm tree.

When pruning palms, only remove fronds that are completely brown and that hang below the 9 o’clock or 3 o’clock positions. If you hire a professional, make your wishes clear by putting them in writing. Explain you want your palms to have a rounded canopy — not a mohawk.

Always remember that the point of pruning is to remove only dead growth.

In addition to periodic pruning, you may want to remove the fruit stalks from certain palm trees to keep them safe and prevent future problems.

Queen palms fruit abundantly and can create a mess when the fruits fall on sidewalks or driveways. If left alone, the seeds may germinate and create a weed problem. Coconut palms produce heavy fruits that can pose a hazard to people or vehicles below.

In these situations, you can remove the fruits or even the flowering stalks on an as-needed basis. It won’t harm the tree and will prevent future issues. Never remove any green leaves, since doing so can damage the tree. If you’re not able to do the job yourself, remember that you can always hire a certified arborist.

— UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions


Latest News