Monsoon season, weeds, palm trees­—oh my!


Friday, June 15, marks the official beginning of the Arizona monsoon season that will last until September 30. As usual, there could be heavy rains, electrical storms with loads of lightning, dust storms and those big dust storms called haboobs.

Here are some tips to prepare your house and yard:

* Have your roof fixed. Have a trusted roofer replace asphalt shingles or tiles that are missing or loose. If you’ve had leaks in the recent past, get the damage repaired or maybe even replace your roof. Areas around pipes, vents and other penetrations in your roof should be sealed.

* Install gutters. Many Arizona homes don’t have gutters, but if you’ve lived in your house a while, you know some areas of the house could use them – such as under the edges that drain water off a flat roof. You want the gutters to pick up the water and drain it down off the roof to an area away from the house where it won’t cause foundation problems.

* Prepare for power outages. Lightning strikes can happen during monsoon storms. In most cases, if a blackout occurs, power will come back on fairly soon. Stock your home with flashlights, candles and matches that are easy to find in an emergency. Sign up for emails, texts or calls from SRP so you know the status of your neighborhood’s power.

* Know your electrical panel. Label the different sections of your panel so that you can easily see where the circuit breakers are for each room or area of your house. That way, you can turn power back on easily if a breaker trips during a storm.

* Install a whole house surge protector. An electrician can hardwire a surge protector directly to your panel. This device will keep appliances and electronic equipment from being damaged during electric surges or power problems.

* Prune and thin trees near your house. You don’t want branches sweeping over the roof that can damage tiles or shingles during a storm. You don’t want limbs breaking off and hitting the house or your car. Be especially careful to trim eucalyptus trees and giant palm trees. Palm trees loaded with dead fronds can burn like torches if struck by lightning.

* Get rid of the dust. After a dust storm, change the air filters on your heating and air conditioning ducts.

* Stay ahead of the weeds. For the most part, weeds are extremely opportunistic. They may lay dormant for months or, in some cases, even years before the monsoon rains trigger their growth. Use a pre-emergent weed killer or a lawn service and make sure the unsightly dead weeds are removed.

* Palm tree maintenance is a must. According to arborists, the best time to have palms trimmed is June and July. This is when the palms are flowering and falling debris from fronds is heaviest. There are also practical reasons to have your palm trees coiffed. When fronds turn brown they will droop below the canopy and amass against the tree’s trunk forming a dense skirt. Heavy, dead fronds located 60 feet up in palms can be a falling risk to homes, pets and passers-by. Pesky roof rats like to build nests high up in the dead frond skirts of palm trees away from predators. That is enough motivation for most homeowners to get the project done.