Garden Frost Protection Tips

01.22.15

4 Steps for Garden Frost Protection

We always know it's going to happen, but we never know exactly when. Sometimes it surprises us in fall or drags out into the spring, and it certainly happens during winter!

We're talking about frost. The chilly destroyer of gardens!

Unfortunately you'll never be able to completely avoid frost in the US. Even down in our sunny south Florida, we have our occasional bout with freezing temperatures. It can sneak up on you when you least expect it and take out your entire garden!

But not to worry, we have 4 simple tips so you can prepare yourself, and most importantly your plants, so frost doesn't send you all the way back to starting new seedlings.

4 Steps for Garden Frost Protection:

  • Keep Your Soil Wet
  • 'Tent' Your Garden
  • Add Extra Mulch
  • Light it Up

 

1) Keep your soil moist

Garden Frost Protection Keep Soil Moist

Water your garden soil thoroughly (except around succulents: cactus, aloes, etc.). Wet soil holds heat better than dry soil, protecting roots and warming the air near ground level. Run your Garden Grid™ watering system when temperatures are still above freezing to help hold in a warmer temperature, than what you will have during a frost.

2) Tent your garden

Garden Tenting

Img via NewOldStockPhotos

The main idea here is to cover your garden so it'll hold in some extra heat. Take bed sheets, drop clothes, blankets, and/or plastic sheets to make suitable covers for plants that will be vulnerable to frost. Use stakes and posts (for a quick fix, use a broom handle) to basically make a tent over your plants and hold down the edges. Use this in combination with damp soil for better results.

3) Cover low lying plants with mulch

garden frost protection straw mulch

For a quick frost, low lying plants can be covered with mulch, such as straw or leaves to hold in heat. After temperatures rise above freezing, make sure to remove the mulch or your plants will eventually wither.

4) Add some lights

Garden frost protection add light bulbs

Use in conjunction with step 2, cover you garden. If temperatures are going to be notably cold and will last more than a few hours, add some lights. Inside of your covered garden, place a 100-watt lamp designed for outdoor use. Turn it on and it will emit enough heat to keep frost damage down. Holiday lights work great as well (and add a festive spirit to your garden). Don't use LED lights since they don't put off as much heat. Also, make sure the lights aren't touching any foliage or cover materials. Although a fire would add some added warmth, it'll probably hurt more than it'll help...

So there you have it! Our 4 favorite DIY solutions for garden frost protection. Use the tips individually or all at once, and you should be ready to weather the cold! To take winter prep a bit further, check out our garden 'winterization' tips here.

 

About the Author: Bryan Traficante

Urban gardener and co-founder of GardenInMinutes.com. While not writing for GardenInMinutes and other gardening publications, you'll often see him responding to your questions and comments on our Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram pages.