With spring already underway, homeowners’ thoughts turn to having a yard that looks as if it could appear in a magazine. As you plan your spring landscaping, consider affordable projects that won’t only improve your home’s curb appeal but will provide some level of protection against possible threats, such as warm-weather storms and wildfires. For a small investment, you can spruce up your yard and help protect your home.

“In 2009, weather-related catastrophes, including many warm-weather storms, resulted in approximately $17 billion in damages in the U.S.,” said Mike Convery, vice president and chief claim officer for MetLife Auto & Home. “With minimal monetary investment and a little work, you can easily ready your home to better endure natural disasters. Even better, many of these projects could save you money in the long run by reducing energy costs and avoiding damages – whether you pay out of pocket or file an insurance claim.”

This spring, consider the following affordable, do-it-yourself projects to protect your home against wind, rain, and wildfire. These projects can all be done with the help of everyday landscaping tools, and depending on the size of your property and desired landscaping changes, a few basic purchases that cost less than $30.

Summer months can usher in extreme wind and rain storms – sometimes even reaching hurricane magnitude. However, with some preventive trimming and good detective work, you can reduce your chance of damage from high winds – or for that matter, ice and snow build-up on tree limbs, which are the cause of thousands of insurance claims every year. These preventative measures may also have the added effect of possibly reducing your energy bill.

  • Examine all trees for disease or damage, which may make them weaker and more susceptible to causing damage during a storm. Remove all compromised trees or limbs – especially ones that hang over your home, external structures, or parking areas – to reduce the probability of damage.
  • Find out which native trees have good root penetration, as they are less likely to uproot during a storm. Take an inventory of all your trees and remove any unfit ones close to your home.
  • Consider planting native trees to reduce your energy bills. Plant deciduous trees - those that lose their leaves during the winter - to the southeast and southwest of your home to block the radiant heat from the sun and lower your cooling bill. Plant evergreen trees to deflect the prevailing wintry winds and save up to 25 percent on your energy costs. Visit for more information on tree selection and to purchase a wide range of affordable trees starting around $5.

Just as damaging as wind, relentless rain can cause many problems for homeowners, especially since flooding isn’t covered under most traditional homeowner insurance policies. Here are some tips to keep your basement dry this spring.

  • When planting, keep in mind that native greenery with good root systems can prevent erosion and absorb heavy rains instead of encouraging run off that could rush toward your basement.
  • Clean your gutters and check for proper water flow through your downspouts – avoid water pooling near your basement. For as little as $8, you can add extensions that will route water further away from your home if necessary.
  • Check the soil grading against your basement walls to ensure rain water will travel away from your home rather than toward it. By just adding a little extra soil around your basement walls, you can direct rain away from your home.

Wildfires burn millions of acres each year, scorching and destroying homes in their wakes. Fortunately, homeowners can take action to reduce their homes’ risk.

  • Depending on your wildfire risk, create a defensible zone with a 30, 50, or 100 feet radius around your home clear of all trees and shrubs to prevent the likelihood of fiery embers reaching your roof.
  • Clean away dried and dead vegetation from your yard. Dried vegetation could serve as kindling to fuel a growing fire and set your house ablaze. You should also trim low tree branches to reduce potential fuel for ground fires.
  • When designing your landscape, use native plants for best results, especially in drier climates. Research shows these plants are last to catch fire and can actually slow down flames. As an added benefit, they often need less water and easily acclimate – preserving the environment and your wallet.

For additional tips on landscaping to protect your home, especially how to properly trim your trees to avoid damage, visit to access a comprehensive website on disaster safety preparation, which was made possible through a collaboration with Institute for Business & Home Safety. Once on the site, select High Winds under the Get Prepared drop-down menu to find a variety of helpful brochures, including “Tree damage - trim your risk.”

The MetLife Auto & Home companies, subsidiaries of MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), are collectively one of the nation’s leading personal lines property and casualty insurance providers, insuring over 3.8 million autos and homes. Their affiliate, MetLife®, is a leading provider of insurance and financial services with operations throughout the U.S. and Latin America, Europe, and Asia’s Pacific regions. For more information, please visit