Hi everybody.

Even though it's early in hurricane season, it's never too early to be prepared for the aftermath of a storm.

I want to share some of the tips I found useful while cleaning up after Frances, Jeanne, Wilma and Irma. These were the last major storms to hit our region. Although 2019 is supposed to be below normal, it only takes one tropical system to make a mess of your yard.

If you are like me, one look at the yard and it makes you wonder where you should even start when planning your cleanup effort. The first tool you will need is a good quality chain saw. Gas is preferred over electric because the gas chain saws have more power and also if your power is out, you will not be able to use your electric chain saw unless you have a generator. Before you start cutting your trees, be sure to take a full survey of your yard. Confirm that there are no power lines entangled in your work area and also that there are no large dangling limbs that could fall and hit you once you start working. If a large tree needs to be cut down, it is probably best to leave that to an expert tree service. Most of my tree debris was already on the ground and simply had to be cut up and taken to the curb.

Once you have all the large debris removed and cut up at your curb, the next thing you should do is re-survey your yard for other damage that may have been hidden with the larger tree branches. When trying to clean up small twigs and leaves from an area that has either steppingstones or gravel, a great tool to use for cleanup is a gas blower. I had a large garden area that is covered with lava rock and trying to use a rake to get the debris was also picking up all the lava rock. I brought out the trusty gas blower and about 97% of the debris was magically whisked away! In fact, as a preliminary task before raking, I successfully removed a good deal of debris from the lawn area with the blower. This made the next pass with a regular garden rake much easier. Once you are done with that, a pass with a mulching lawn mower will really put the finishing touches on your yard. Once you finish getting your yard back to some kind of normalcy, you can start planning your fall garden. Yes I said Fall, it is actually not that far off. Stores are already clearing out patio sets getting ready for Halloween and Christmas.

Remember, for all the latest updates and information, go to www.hometownweather.net.

Joe Zelenak has more than 30 years experience in gardening and landscape. Send e-mails to hometowngarden@gmail.com or visit his Web site www.hometowngarden.com.

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