With summer on its way, thunderstorms and other severe weather are likely to follow. And, unfortunately, every year there are a few storms that bring flooding, downed trees, or worse, leaving property owners wondering where to start the cleanup.
Cleaning up after a storm can be an ordeal for any property owner or tenant. Most of the time, it requires a lot more effort than picking up some broken branches. Storms that heavily damage trees and other large pieces of the landscape can be a potential hazard for the owner and the tenant.
Before you jump into clean-up, you should step back and formulate a plan. Communicate with tenants to discourage them from tackling a potentially dangerous situation during cleanup.
Think carefully before taking on any work yourself, too. A storm-damaged landscape can produce a number of hazards. Always contact utility providers if there are downed power lines or lines tangled in trees. And, depending on the extent of the damage, you may want to call in a landscaping expert. Trees may appear stable but if they have been damaged, they can fall.
A few tips:
Identify Potential Hazards Before Cleanup
Prioritize by taking care of anything obstructing access to a home, car, garage, etc. first. Also, identify potential dangers, like trees that are unstable and limbs hanging in tree canopies. Wait until the storm is long gone before beginning.
Use Caution when Cutting or Removing Trees
It may seem obvious, but trees are extremely heavy. And they don’t always look as heavy as they are. So be extremely careful. Their weight can shift quickly while you’re trying to cut or move, rolling onto you and causing injury.
Inspect Standing Trees
A tree that looks like it survived the storm may actually be damaged. Closely inspect, or have a professional come in, to determine if it’s actually damaged.
Prune Smaller Trees and Shrubs Affected By Damage
Determine whether the damaged plant can be salvaged or if it needs to be removed. Each plant heals in its own way and some may not be able to overcome the damage.
Inspect Landscape for Drainage Issues
Storms produce heavy rains that can wash away a landscape. In addition, they can alter the drainage system. Soil erosion may have also occurred. Note whether or not mulch has washed out.
Handle Standing Water With Care
Before going near standing water, you need to note whether or not there are ANY down wires or in the vicinity or other potential for electric shock.
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. If you have any open cuts or sores that may be exposed to floodwater, keep them as clean as possible by washing them with soap and applying an antibiotic ointment to discourage infection during cleanup.
Although it may seem like a daunting task, a well-organized plan will help you get your yard back to its previous glory in no time.