Did the recent freezing temperatures harm your landscape? Here is some excellent advice from the Irrigation & Green Industry Newsletter: The shock of below-freezing temperatures a few days after balmy weather has proven to be fatal to many residential landscapes around the country. Landscape professionals and homeowners were caught off guard by the early November deep freeze. Only time will tell the extent of these damages, but in the meantime, here are some helpful tips on how to decrease harm before and after a freeze.
Choose the Right Location
Protecting plants from freeze can start as early as planting. Finding the right microclimate is very important. Different areas of the landscape may have different environmental conditions, such as temperature and sun exposure. Brick and rock walls are wonderful at absorbing the sun’s rays during the day and provide a little extra protection during cool winter nights.
Most landscapes only receive a makeover come spring. But a mulch makeover is equally important in the fall. Freshly applied mulch lessens the likelihood of frost penetration. It keeps the water within the soil from freezing and becoming unavailable to plants. Remember to leave a few inches between trunks and mulch.
Continue to Water
Winter weather tends to dry out the soil. Water acts as an insulator, capturing warmth for extra protection during the freezing night temperatures. Moist soil holds heat better than drier soil. Watering landscapes well before a freeze is an easy way to reduce damage. If you’re unsure if the soil is dry, penetrate an old screwdriver six to eight inches into the soil. If force is needed, the soil is dry. Pay special attention to new plants or plants exposed to lots of sun and wind.
Pruning stimulates new growth, leaving plants very tender and more susceptible to freeze damage. Be sure to prune plants at the appropriate time.
Sunscald can occur on cold, sunny, winter days. The quick drop in temperature kills the tree’s active tissue. To prevent sunscald, wrap the trunk with commercial tree wrap, plastic tree guards, or use white latex paint to reflect the sun and keep the bark at a more constant temperature. Leaving tree wrap on year-round is not recommended as it provides a good location for certain trunk boring insects to hide and cause damage.