Freeze and Frost Information

The winter season has returned and with it the possibility of freezing temperatures and damage to landscapes. Damage from these temperatures is unpreventable and sometimes catastrophic. Fortunately, Massey GreenUP Landscape Services can help and along with the tips outlined below, we can provide service to help your landscape recover from freeze and frost damage.

If you have Massey GreenUP Landscape Services:

In December and January your service includes a winterizing fertilizer to help reduce injury.  Even though this is designed to strengthen your landscape against cold temperatures and reduce injury, any extended freezing temperatures may cause irreversible damage that will likely require some renovation in the Spring.

If you have questions about your landscape, please don’t hesitate to contact us or call us at 1-888-2MASSEY (888-262-7739).

If you don’t have Massey’s GreenUP Landscape Services:

We can help if your landscape gets damaged by the freeze.  We offer a Free Landscape Analysis whereby we will diagnose your specific situation and provide a customized plan to restore the beauty and health of your landscape.

Contact us for a Free Landscape Analysis or call us at 1-888-2MASSEY (888-262-7739).

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Freeze Damage

When should I prune frost damaged shrubs?

Wait until the threat of frost or freezing has passed. Pruning the damaged plants will stimulate new growth that could be more susceptible to further cold injury and result in more severe injury to the plant.

Should I continue to mow my lawn?

Yes, continue to mow – but not if freeze or frost is present.  We recommend mowing about once every two weeks until the threat of frost or freeze has passed. And, mow the lawn on the highest setting available on your lawn mower.

What can I do to speed up my landscape’s recovery from cold injury?

If the landscape was in good health before the frost or freeze, nothing extra needs to be done to speed-up the recovery.  For current Massey GreenUP Landscape customers, your December and January services provide a winterizing fertilizer with slow release Nitrogen, Potash and Magnesium, which will help strengthen the plant to withstand cold temperatures and will encourage greening when the temperatures climb in the Spring.  There is no need or benefit to apply additional fertilizer immediately after a freeze. Spring fertilizer will be applied in February or March.

When will I know if I have permanent areas of damage?

When the weather warms up in the spring, the areas that have survived will begin to grow out of the injury.  Areas that do not green up indicate permanent areas of damage and will need to be replaced.  It is possible for these areas not to be fully known until the latter part of March or early April.

Some landscape trees and shrubs may not show damage until many months after a freeze. An examination of the trunk will show that the freezing temperatures have caused the bark to crack.  Death to the plant occurs because the tissues that transport food and water up and down the trunk have been damaged.

Can Massey Services help if there are shrubs or areas of lawn that need to be replaced?

Massey Services offers turf and shrub renovation services.  If shrubs or areas of the lawn have been permanently damaged, contact us for a Free Landscape Analysis and Massey Services will provide you with a written estimate for the cost of repair and will install plants that are guaranteed to establish and thrive.

What causes one plant to be damaged from the cold when others are not?

Plant and turf type, along with health, elevation, shade and sun can all have an impact on freeze and frost damage. Plants and turf are living, breathing organisms and all react differently.

  • Bermudagrass and Zoysiagrass brown more uniformly as they transition into a state of dormancy during the cold temperatures.
  • St. Augustinegrass does not brown uniformly and lacks a protective dormancy mechanism.  It is also more susceptible to permanent damage from freeze.

Why do I have damage in some areas and not uniformly across the lawn? Why is one area of my lawn damaged more than another?

Many factors such as the availability of moisture in the plant, the slope of the landscape, the moisture in the soil, wind speed and other protection factors like tree coverage determine the amount of cold damage that occurs from one area to another.

  • Plant moisture– If a plant is dehydrated going into a freeze the damage will be more severe.
  • Landscape slope– Damage will also be more severe at the bottom of a slope since cold air falls and warm air rises.
  • Soil moisture– Moist soils are usually warmer than dry soils resulting in less cold injury.  Additionally, irrigation water makes the soil warmer and provides added protection. Soils watered before a freeze are less susceptible to cold injury.
  • Wind – Wind can both increase or decrease the amount of cold injury depending on just how cold the temperatures become. It can keep frost from forming when the temperatures are near freezing or increase the amount of damage caused by desiccation if the temperatures fall far below freezing.
  • Canopy– Some plants and turf will be protected from frost by coverings such as the canopy of a tree or the side of a home.

How can I reduce the amount of damage to my landscape?

  • Irrigate before the frost or freeze to ensure there is proper moisture in the soil root zone, however, make sure irrigation is stopped early enough to allow time for leaves to dry in order to avoid ice forming on them.
  • Please Note:  DO NOT IRRIGATE DURING FROST OR FREEZE.  This practice is beneficial in nurseries and citrus groves only because they are equipped to water non-stop until the ice is melted.  If not done properly, this practice can prolong the amount of time that plants are subjected to the harsh, cold temperatures.
  • Cover cold-sensitive plants with blankets or boxes but NOT plastic. Be sure to remove the covering as soon as the temperatures begin to warm up.
  • Do not mow turf that is frozen, and keep the lawn mowed high.  This can reduce cold injury in a number of ways.  First, it will promote a deeper root system, which will provide greater stress tolerance.  In addition, higher mowing heights can create a warmer micro-environment due to the extra canopy cover provided by the longer leaf tissue.
  • Avoid foot traffic or vehicular traffic on frozen turf as it can increase damage.

If you have any questions, please contact us and a representative will be able to help you with your question.