How to Protect Your Plants from Spring Freeze
With warmer days becoming the norm, it is easy to forget to check the forecast to properly anticipate overnight drops in temperature that could prove fatal for your lovely flowering plants and tender greens. As a gardener, one of the most sad and frustrating things is to put so much time, energy, and money into purchasing, planting, and maintaining your vegetable garden, flower beds, and hanging baskets, and even just the smallest amount of frost is enough to significantly impact your plants in a negative way. With the unpredictability of Colorado weather, every spring we are bound to have at least one or two unexpected freezes. So, we are here with a few tips to help you protect all the hard work you have put into starting a crop or beautifying your porch!
Protect Your Annual Flowers In Freezing Temps
Your beautiful hanging flower baskets or the pots on your front porch, full of tender annual flowers, will not fare well if the temperature decides to drop. There are several easy ways you can help protect them though!
The great thing about annual flowers is most of the time they are in pots on your front porch or hanging in baskets around the exterior of your home. This makes them easy to move if freezing temperatures loom. So, If your pots and planters are near a door, or if you have a shed or garage nearby, the safest bet is to pull them inside for the night. If you are worried about getting dirt and critters indoors or have a pot that is too heavy to move, repositioning the pots as near to the house as possible will help shield them from frost, as temperatures nearest the house will remain warmer.
In the case of very cold temperatures, heavier frosts, or snowy weather, you might have to take further measures to keep your flowers fresh and alive. Covering your pots with frost cloth or a sheet, or wrapping them with some sort of insulation, will help keep the ice particles from coming into direct contact with the leaves and blooms. Keep an eye out and brush off any snow or ice that begins to accumulate.
Protect Your Garden Plants from Frost
Protecting your garden and all its fresh greens that are beginning to pop through the soil might seem like a more difficult task, but it is possible! Here are some recommendations for protecting your garden from frost and freezing temperatures.
Cover your crops with a garden blanket, frost cloth, or a plant cover. Garden blankets are designed to protect plants from light frosts over short periods of time, such as overnight, when temperatures drop. Floating row covers are another great option to protect from frost and wind burn. Both options keep snow and ice from coming into direct contact with your plants, increasing the likelihood of them making it though the cold night unscathed. Help your plants out even more by periodically brushing off any snow or ice that begins to accumulate on top of the plant covers. We also carry insulated plant protectors, sometimes called "walls of water", which are great for creating miniature greenhouses around your plants. This is a great option for small tomato plants, pepper plants, and the like, as one plant protector is needed per plant. In the case of vegetables planted in long rows and such, frost cloth is a better option!
Another great tip if you can plan ahead, is to avoid watering your plants a day or two before the expected cold weather. If you are worried about your crop drying out, water early in the day as soon as temperatures have had a chance to rise. This will give your plants as much time as possible to dry out and will avoid their roots becoming frozen in saturated dirt.
Disconnect Your Hose
Don’t forget to disconnect your garden hose! It might not seem like a big deal, but allowing your hose to stay connected through freezing weather can cause water that is trapped in the hose and in the pipes underneath your house to freeze. Often, these pipes are incapable of handling the pressure of water freezing and expanding, and the pipes are prone to splitting or cracking. This causes a plethora of problems in and of itself. Not only does it compromise your water pressure the next time you go to use your hose, but it also wastes a lot of water. And where is this water going? Most likely underneath your house, seeping down near the foundation, or causing other structural damages that are costly to fix. Also, finding a fix for this damage is not easy either, and often involves getting down and dirty in a tiny crawl space to find and mend the broken piece of pipe. Easily avoid all this hassle simply by disconnecting your hose when freezing temperatures are expected.
Protect Your Irrigation Backflow Preventer
Play it safe and also cover your irrigation system backflow preventer! This will prevent water from freezing and causing damage to the device. With mild spring freezes, simply head to your local home improvement store and pick up some pipeline insulation. Wrap the insulation around the pipes and secure it with some duct tape, leaving room around the valves for easy access. In mild freezes, this will be adequate to keep your backflow device safe from cracks caused by expanding ice. Many hardware stores also have backflow covers that will provide additional protection in more extreme circumstances!
In the case of heavier freezes, we suggest turning the shut-off valves of your irrigation backflow preventer. In most residential systems, there are two shut off valves typically covered in blue rubber and located on either side of the backflow device. Turn the lower valve 90 degrees to shut off water flow into the device. To release the water that is still left over in the backflow device, loosen the two bleeder valves located just beneath the plastic top of the device with a flat head screwdriver. Once loosened, water will spew out of the valves until all excess water is gone. If the water does not stop after a couple minutes, check that you fully turned the shut-off valve, as water still may be getting through.
Need More Help?
If there are any questions that we have not answered, feel free to reach out through the contact form on our home page, or give us a call! We will be happy to assist you with any questions you may have. Spring weather here in Colorado can be frustrating and devastating, so let us help you protect your plants so that you can have a prosperous gardening season!
Domoney, David. “How to protect container plants and pots from winter frost.” Accessed 4 May 2020. Retrieved from https://www.daviddomoney.com/how-to-protect-container-plants-and-pots-from-winter-frost/
Rusty. “How to Protect Your Backflow During a Freeze.” 4 January 2012. Web. Accessed 4 May 2020. Retrieved from https://www.themasterslawncare.com/blog/how-protect-your-backflow-during-freeze
Valdes, Renee. “5 Ways to Protect Your Garden from Frost and Freeze Damage.” Accessed 4 May 2020. Retrieved from https://www.homedepot.com/c/alp/outdoor-living-ideas-garden-ideas-projects/157n-o4v9