When taking care of your landscape, you must consider the influence of all kinds of weather on your grass, shrubs, and trees. When fall and winter arrive, this means considering how to prevent overnight frost from damaging your plants. The first step in preventing frost damage is understanding how it forms and when you need to watch out for potential damage. The following tips can help you avoid the bite of fall and winter temperatures this year. Whenever in doubt about how to tend to your landscape, reach out to Scientific Plant Service for knowledgeable guidance on the best treatments for all seasons.
What Is Frost?
Frost will most likely form during a still, cloudless night as outdoor temperatures get close to freezing. The cold air sinks lower to the ground when there is little to no wind. Ice crystals form as vapor condenses from the air and settles on plant material. Light frost can form at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and you often see frost advisories issued in fall when temperatures are expected to be in the 30s.
How Does Frost Affect Your Plants?
Not every plant is susceptible to frost damage, but a few are especially vulnerable. Potted plants, sensitive fruits and vegetables, and perennials are the most susceptible to frost damage. Most established plants and early blooms may withstand a few hours of a light frost with little or no injury. However, the longer the duration and the lower the temperature, the more they are at risk. How do you spot frost damage? The primary signs to look for include the following:
- Droopy leaves
- Outdoor leaf growth is wilted
- Dead or dying leaves
- Color changes, noticeably black or brown patches
Short-Term Frost Protection
First, look at the weather forecast for signs that a frost is imminent. The signs include clear, calm skies and dropping afternoon temperatures. Prepare your landscape with these tips to protect them from a temporary frost:
- Cover Up: Use a lightweight cloth to prevent the night air from contacting sensitive plants. Avoid using plastic, which can trap moisture and lead to more problems. Around sunset, drape the fabric loosely over your plants and anchor excess fabric with rocks or bricks to keep it from blowing away.
- Head Indoors: Bring your vulnerable container plants indoors during cold weather and place them away from heat sources like furnace vents or fireplaces.
- Add Water: A well-hydrated plant can more easily withstand a light frost, as the water in the soil and plant cells retain heat. Saturate the soil early in the day to allow for absorption.
Long-Term Frost Protection
This tip can help protect your plants over the winter months when temperatures are regularly at or below freezing. To keep newly planted trees and shrubs protected from frost damage, you may wrap them in burlap throughout the winter. To do so, place wooden stakes around the plant’s perimeter and wrap them in a double layer of burlap. Affix the material to the stakes with staples for maximum protection.
Scientific Plant Service Is Your Go-To Source In Landscape Healthcare
Scientific Plant Service, located in Baltimore, is a privately owned corporation, chartered in Maryland in 1957 by Frank J. Burke. We started as a full-service Arborists specializing in the care of shade trees and ornamental shrubs, but today we are a Lawn Care company that is a huge part of the community. From aquatic environments and snow management to deer and mole control, SPS has services tailored specifically for your lawn and landscape.
We offer services in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia, including: Harford, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Howard, Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Prince Georges, Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Calvert counties in MD, as well as Loudoun County, Fairfax County, Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church in VA. For more information, contact us online, or call us at 410-321-0970. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.