Some guidelines if planting for cyclones

Remember no plant is totally wind proof, however, it is possible to increase the chances of a plant behaving well. Most plants will be covered in leaves again within six months even if the overall appearance has changed. Often new leaves will be appearing within weeks.

  • Choose trees with known good wind resistance.

  • Make sure trees are healthy.

  • Don’t plant big trees too close to buildings or where they will fall onto power lines. If planting palms make sure that at maturity the fronds will not whip up into power lines or other overhead wires. Plant them far enough away from buildings, roads, lines, that if they do fall then the crown won’t do any major damage. Don’t be afraid to cut a large palm down and replace it with a new one. Clusters palms are good, particularly some of the smaller ones.

  • Ensure plants have a chance to develop a deep root system. Encourage this by establishing a good watering regime – not too frequent but one that gets water deeper into the soil.

  • When preparing the ground by ripping, then do it in a number of directions so the roots will grow out in all directions and give better stability.

  • Avoid plants that are top heavy with a shallow root systems. Do not excessively prune the lower portions of trees and shrubs. This common habit often makes the trees top heavy, think first as to why you need to prune them. Pruning will let light in and allow weeds to flourish. This often means that spraying to kill the weeds will be required.

  • Plant in clumps or bands and not in rows. Nigel Tucker at ‘Biotropica’, Tarzali, found a 50 m wide band protected stream banks better than a 10-20 m band.

  • Expect problems with really old trees.

  • If necessary get out the chainsaw and prune prior to the arrival of the cyclone. Cut branches are reluctant to become airborne.