Let’s start with some lawn care basics: a cold snap is defined as “a sudden, brief spell of cold weather.” As many of us know, even though spring has officially arrived, the weather in Georgia can still be unpredictable. One day it’s sunny and 80, the next, you can see your breath in the morning as you head to work in 40 degree weather. While it’s easy for us to grab a jacket to adjust for the back and forth weather commonly seen this time of year, it’s not as simple for our yards. When the first signs of spring start to show, many people use the warmer weather to get ahead on planting, seeding, fertilizing, and other yard work but fluctuating temperatures can end up doing more harm than good if a cold spell occurs, so we’ve rounded up some of our most helpful tips for protecting your yard from a cold snap.
Regardless of your turf (like Zoysia, Bermuda, plants, etc.), cold snaps are arguably more damaging to your grass and other landscaping than in the winter because spring is around the time when plants start to blossom. Waiting until late April through mid-May before starting your spring gardening can serve as a buffer for reducing potential weather-related damage to your new seedlings, but if you’re one of the eager ones who like to start here, a few do’s and don’ts can make a world of difference.
- Pay attention to the weather forecast – just as you’d check for days of rain that will require an umbrella or much needed raincoat, check the forecast to see if any spells of cold could threaten to harm the hard work you’ve put into your lawn. Knowing how long a cold spell is expected and when it will start can help you put a plan of action in effect to prepare your yard BEFORE the freeze starts.
- Water your landscape – believe it or not, damp soil traps in heat longer and provides more insulation than dry soil. We’re not saying you should over water your lawn in preparedness for the colder temperatures (too much water can be just as damaging as not enough water in some instances) but be conscious of your watering habits to avoid root and crown rot diseases that occur from over watering and prolonged periods of wet soil.
- Insulate your plants – For light freezes, creating a type of insulation for your plants is key because it helps to trap in warm air from the ground to provide a type of blanket. This can be a sheet or a blanket (never cover a plant with JUST plastic – plastic will damage the plant, but if you use plastic, it just needs a sheet put down first to serve as a type of buffer between your plants and the plastic.
- Ignore potted plants – hanging plants and plants that are potted need protection from the cold too! Potted plants have even less protection that plants that are in the ground but are far easier to physically move. We suggest bringing potted plants inside the house, or store them in the garage, overnight to keep them warm and safe. If you have massive plants that can’t be easily moved, insulation is your best defense and can be achieved by wrapping the entire container in heavy layers of materials that would help trap in the heat (like blankets or even bubble wrap).
- Forget to uncover your plants – plants still need sunlight so be sure to uncover your plants the morning after an overnight cold snap to reduce any condensation build up that could cause the plants to freeze if it temperatures continue to drop the next night. Even if you’re expecting a few nights of cold temperatures in a row, you should repeat the process of covering and uncovering for as long as necessary – it may be an extra step before you go to bed but it’ll be well worth it if it can save your beautiful yard and some money when you eliminate having to start all over again from scratch!
- Give up – even if what you see on the ground level appears to be ruined, don’t give up. Sometimes cold sensitive plants can recover by starting new growth from the roots or base of the plant. It may take some time for that to happen, but just try to be patient and give it a chance to thrive again before you immediately write the plant off as permanently damaged.
Since different plants can be affected by different temperatures, there isn’t a general rule of thumb for protecting each and every type of plant simultaneously. When planning out the landscape for your yard and spring gardening, pay particular closeness to a plants’ hardiness rating which can help you navigate how each plant thrives under certain weather conditions (will it last through extreme cold or does a particular plant need dry, humid air to flourish?) and which ones will perhaps need some assistance to survive sudden temperature drops.
With a team of professionals with over 40 years combined experience, Turf Shield continues to deliver superior lawn care for over 40 years to those who value the health a well-maintained landscape needs and the beauty it can provide. Whether you’re a novice gardener just getting started or a seasoned veteran who’s ready to take their yard to the next level, our variety of lawn care services are uniquely tailored to provide the most ideal results. For more lawn maintenance and landscape tips, stay connected with Turf Shield on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more!