Maintain your yard

One of the most damaging effects during Intense cyclone winds is from uprooted trees and severed branches crashing onto buildings and cars, and through glass windows and doors.

Remove any dead trees and branches before cyclone season, because these will break free in strong winds more easily. An arborist can advise whether a tree is dying and recommend which trees need to be removed or just pruned.

Tall trees can shed branches in cyclonic winds and, if large enough, these braches can cause significant damage. If your neighbours' trees are a concern, discuss your concerns with them.

Before you plant any trees consider how high and how wide the tree will ultimately grow. Position new trees and shrubs away from the house and powerlines, to minimise the dangers caused by falling trees or branches bringing down powerlines, which could create a life-threatening situation. Ergon and Greening Australia have developed the Plant Smart vegetation management program to help you choose trees and shrubs for under powerlines. If you want to plant on the footpath outside your house, you'll need to get permission from your local council.

The main reason for pruning trees is to reduce the risk of damage to your car and home, and for your family's safety. Pruning encourages tree to develop a strong structure, which reduces the risk of falling trees and branches during severe weather events. And you can use the aged forest mulch to feed your garden.

Do not attempt to prune trees in or near powerlines. If you are concerned a tree is too close to a powerline, call your electricity provider.

In high winds, braches may come into contact with powerlines and damage your house, or worse come into contact with and bring down overhead powerlines.

Main causes of tree failure

  • Shallow root system
  • Snapped trunks
  • Sick or old trees or termite damage
  • Top-heavy plants
  • Erosion
  • Failure of shrubs or branches


While you're up the ladder, remember to exercise caution around overhead powerlines. Stay away from fallen powerlines during and following storms.

Ergon 13 22 96 to report and receive updates about power interruptions

Ergon fallen power lines or electric shock 000 or 13 16 70

Energex 131253 tree pruning

Energex 13 63 63 to report and receive updates about power interruptions

Electrical shock or fallen powerlines 13 19 62

Choose plants for your garden that resist cyclone damage

Cyclonic winds cause much havoc to vegetation. Some of the most spectacular scenes following cyclones are those showing widespread destruction of banana, paw paw, or avocado tree plantations. No tree will always stand up to cyclonic strength winds as there are many factors their influence their ability to survive destruction, but some are more resilient than others.

Soil moisture, wind intensity and duration, and the plant's root system all determine how well a tree performs during severe weather. Some plants just aren't meant to survive Queensland's harsh climate. Don't be deterred from planting trees and shrubs, because you might enjoy them for 20-30 years without any detrimental effect. Shallow root systems, snapped trunks, termite damage, old age, soil erosion, and top-heavy plants are the most common issues in cyclone regions.

Plants can protect as well as cause damage. As long as you choose wind-resistant trees and shrubs recommended by experts, you won't have to go without, so choose wisely to minimise any damage and flow-on costs.

Characteristics of suitable trees and shrubs:

  • Good flexibility such palms with thin flexible stems
  • Well-developed root system - preferably ones with a good taproot
  • Ease of defoliation (ability to lose leaves quickly and little resistance to the wind)
  • Plants with fine leaves offer less resistance to winds
  • Open branch system that allows wind to pass easily (Terminalia and Milky Pines)
  • Trees without a dense top-heavy canopy or crown
  • Healthy trees with vigorous growth and no termites

Golden Cane

Examples of plants that withsood cyclonic winds. Golden cane form a flexible debris-catching barrier. Pandanus remained standing. Aerial roots on Ficus gave good support.


Trees without a dense canopy, rees with fine leaves and open branch systems offer little wind resistance.

Images coutesy James Cook University, Townsville.