Winter isn’t all sleigh rides and silver bells. This time of year can be hard on your home and plants if you’re not careful. Depending on what you planted in springtime, the frost of the winter season could wreak havoc on your yard. Luckily, there are some easy solutions to help your garden survive—and thrive—all year.

What’s the Difference Between a Frost and a Freeze?

Frosts and freezes happen when the temperature hangs around or falls below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Frosting occurs when the outside temperature approaches freezing but doesn’t necessarily reach it. Surface temps on your plants may still dip below 32 degrees and lead to various types of frost damage. 

A freeze occurs once temperatures reach or drop below freezing. Many plants are vulnerable to freeze and frost damage without proper protection. Annuals, tropical plants, and some perennials are especially vulnerable. Both freezes and frosts can destroy or damage plants, leaves, and root systems, potentially ruining an entire garden.

Tips for Gardening in Winter

mother and daughter transplant plants in kitchenTake the most sensitive plants inside. Your local plant supplier can advise you as to which plants are especially frost sensitive. These plants are most likely to survive if they’re brought inside. If they’re planted in pots, simply bringing them indoors should protect them. If not, the bulbs should be dug up and stored in a cool, dry place until the cold weather passes.

Cover your vulnerable plants. If you can’t move your greenery, cover it. Newly sprouting plants can be protected by upside-down buckets or planters. Bigger items such as trees and shrubs should be covered by fabric plant protectors. 

You can also shield plants from frost by using burlap, blankets, or sheets. However, you should avoid using plastic, which can do more harm than good. Another option for plants that grow low to the ground is covering them in layers of mulch to help seal in heat and protect sensitive leaves and stems.

Wrapping and covering plants may not seem like much, but keeping their internal temperatures up by only a few degrees can be the difference between life and death.

Water greenery at the roots. Though it may seem counterintuitive to water plants in freezing weather, it will prevent desiccation and give roots a line of defense against the cold, as the ground retains heat better when wet. You should avoid wetting visible leaves and stems, however, because freezing could cause exposed plant cells to burst, leading to irreparable damage

Create additional heat. For some plants, your best bet may to be to supply a heat source. Use a 100-watt lamp to counteract the dropping temps.

close-up of man on ladder pruning a treeCut away the damage. Frost-sensitive plants are likely to be a complete loss if they aren’t moved to warmer environments, but hardy plants are more likely to survive once their damaged or dead pieces are pruned away. 

Once the frost has passed, you can decide which plants are salvageable and work to rehabilitate them with pruning, feeding, and TLC.

A winter chill doesn’t have to mean the end of your hard-earned garden this year. Take the necessary precautions ahead of the cold front, and you can make a few saves. For additional advice on gardening in winter, contact your local Best Pick landscaping company.