How to Prevent Freeze Damage to Your Landscape
With the cooler temperatures arriving, it is important to understand how cold weather affects your landscape. Regardless of how well you take care of your lawn during the warmer months, freeze can cause serious – even sometimes permanent – damage to your lawn, trees, and shrubs. Caring for your lawn during the colder months is important to help ensure the health of your lawn. The following information will help you become more prepared in the event that freezing temperatures occur in your area.
What’s the Difference Between Freeze and Hard Freeze?
A freeze means temperatures are expected to fall to or below 32 degrees. A hard freeze indicates temperatures are going to fall below freezing for two hours or more. This long period of time can cause damage or kill grass, trees, and shrubs. Most plants can survive cooler weather until the temperature dips to 32 degrees and below. Make sure to keep an eye on the weather!
How Can I Protect My Trees and Shrubs?
To prevent freeze to plants, simply cover them using a cloth or boxes. Do not use plastic. When the weather begins to warm again, be sure to remove the covering. If a hard freeze is expected to occur for more than 4 hours, expect damage to most trees and shrubs. Make sure to bring potted plants indoors.
Being prepared for a freeze, and having the proper tools, is the best way to protect your lawn, trees, and shrubs. Here is a link to purchase plant covers for a freeze: Freeze covers
Can Watering My Lawn Cause Damage During a Freeze?
It is recommended to water your lawn before a freeze. This allows the soil to have moisture which acts as insulation for the roots. Roots are more likely to freeze when the ground is dry. When watering the grass, its best to water during the warmest time of the day to allow time for the leaves to dry to prevent ice from forming on them. DO NOT WATER DURING A FREEZE!
How Can I Prevent Damage to My Irrigation System?
Running your irrigation system during a freeze can cause damage to your irrigation system. To help prevent damage, ensure that all outdoor hoses are detached from their faucets. Investing in a rain and freeze sensor for your irrigation is another way to help protect your system. The sensor will automatically shut off the system to help prevent damage if a freeze occurs in your area. Call your irrigation maintenance company for recommendations on the best sensor for your system.
Can I Continue to Mow My Lawn?
Yes, but do not mow when the turf is frozen. We recommend that you mow your lawn once every two weeks on at the highest recommended height for your specific type of grass. The higher cut will promote deeper root systems that will enhance stress tolerance and create a warmer micro-environment for the lawn. Be sure not to scalp the grass. This will make it less likely for the lawn to recover properly from freeze.
How Do I Know If I Have Freeze Damage?
Freezing temperatures will turn the lawn brown. Do not panic! This is a normal part of winter dormancy. When the weather begins to warm, the growing points will become active, and the grass will green naturally. If the grass does not return to its green color by spring, you may need to replace the damaged areas.
Avoid Foot and Vehicle Traffic
Walking or driving on frozen turf can kill the grass. Pressure from walking or vehicles may cause the water molecules to tear through plant cell walls, severely damaging the grass blades.