Winter is fast approaching and we all think about wrapping pipes, protecting potted plants, and of course our pets. However most people don’t realize that landscapes need to be protected as well. Proper winterizing of your landscape will help plants survive the gray cold days ahead, and be better prepared for the “spring rush”. There are several ways to protect your landscape for the winter ahead.
Most areas in the United States have four seasons and fall allows plant the time to prepare for winter, whereas here in the south we have basically summer and winter. When you live in an area that has four seasons, plants have the opportunity to “harden off”. This process is when plants began to prepare themselves for the colder weather, very much like animals prepare for the colder months. Plants know winter is coming because the nights began to cool down and daylight becomes less. Gradually they began to “winterize” themselves. In the south it may be 85 degrees one day and freezing the next. Plants have not had the time to prepare for the cold and so they are susceptible to freeze damage.
The best way to protect your plants from freeze damage is to water, water, water. I know this goes against what most people think to do, because we associate water with ice and ice means damage. But the opposite is true. If you water 12 to 24 hours before a hard freeze the roots absorb the water and release it as heat to protect their own root system. It’s a long scientific explanation, I won’t bore you with the details, but it works. So if we don’t get any rain ahead of a freeze, then go ahead and water thoroughly and help protect your landscape from freeze damage. This one simple step will save you from having to replace plants in the spring which is very costly and will keep your landscape healthy for next season.