Caring for Your Landscape During Frost or Freeze

Early this year, we experienced some of the coldest temperatures in decades, which resulted in severe damage to lawns, trees and shrubs. As we are expecting freezing temperatures in many areas this week, below are some tips on how you can care for your lawn and shrubs. Though freezing temperatures can result in unpreventable, sometimes permanent damage to landscapes, following these tips will help minimize the damage. 

Freeze-damaged shrub

  • 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 a 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 this can increase damage.

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