Protecting Your Landscape
With the time getting ready to change and the days getting longer, there are a lot of reminders that spring is right around the corner. Unfortunately for your outdoor plants, it might not be quite close enough to save them from a few more chilly nights. Depending on where you live, you may still have to deal with the occasional frost or overnight freeze for at least another month or possibly longer. This can cause significant problems for a lot of plants, and can really set back your landscaping and gardening plans if you wait until the danger of freezing is completely gone before putting things out.
Fortunately, there are a few different ways that you can protect your plants from late-season chills. While the specific methods you use will depend on where you live, the types of plants you have, and how low the temperature is supposed to drop, you should be able to find something to give your plants the protection they need. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Protecting Roots and Leaves
You’ve likely seen people covering up plants with sheets and other materials when a frost or a freeze is expected, but you might find yourself wondering if that actually works. Turns out, it does! Frost affects the top layer of exposed plant material and soil, so by covering your plants with towels, sheets, or even spare cloth or plastic, you can create a layer of protection between the fragile plant material and the frost. Cloth and plastic bags or similar items can work as well, just so long as you’re careful about not damaging the plants in the process.
Just because you’ve protected the stems and leaves from frost doesn’t mean that your plants are completely safe, though. Low temperatures can also damage roots, especially in times of prolonged cold. Putting mulch, towels, and other materials on the ground around your plants can help to protect against this by adding insulation that will keep the soil a bit warmer for longer. Since freezes typically don’t last too long heading into spring, even a little bit of extra insulation can make a big difference.
Providing Additional Heat
In some cases, you may need to provide additional heat to protect your plants against cool mornings or seasonally low temperatures as well. For potted plants this is easy, as you can simply bring the plants inside or place them in warmer areas like a closed garage. For in-ground plants, though, a bit more work is required.
It’s possible to buy or build small greenhouse enclosures that can cover outdoor plants and protect them from low temperatures. These enclosures may be as simple as sheet plastic supported by wire or plastic bottles with the bottoms cut out. Regardless of their construction, heat from the sun will increase the local temperature within the greenhouse unit and give your outdoor plants the little boost of heat that they need to thrive until temperatures start to rise again.
Putting some extra work into planning your landscaping can also go a long way toward protecting your plants from frosts and freezes. Choosing outdoor plants that are hardier against the cold will help to provide this protection, and a gradual rollout of new plants that’s staged from hardier to less hardy will keep your exterior looking vibrant without adding plants that will suffer from the cold. If you aren’t sure which plants to choose or how to time the rollout of new plants, there should be landscaping experts in your area that can help.