There are good reasons why you should familiarize yourself with the typical first and last frost dates in the given area that you live in.
Naturally, frost is expected a lot earlier if you live further up than if you live in the southern part of the United States, and there are other geographic factors that will also influence when the changing weather becomes something that you need to think about.
You might be a person that enjoys the changing seasons in your garden. The cooler air after a long warm summer might feel refreshing, but while you might enjoy it, there are things you cannot get out of having to do. Home maintenance is a thing you cannot take too seriously, and that also includes making sure that everything in your garden is well protected.
Preparation for Frost
It’s not just your plants that could be having a hard time when the weather starts freezing. There are different other things to keep in mind too.
Ceramics has a tendency to crack if left outside during frost, because it’s porous, and the water that it absorbs expands which in turn causes cracks to the material. That is, of course, unless you used porcelain, which is supposed to be able to withstand frost because it’s less porous, and its water absorption rate therefore is significantly lower. We say it should be able to withstand frost because a lot of ceramic is mislabeled as porcelain, while it in fact doesn’t have the water absorption rate determined by the US standard groups to be able to call it porcelain. You can read more about the differences in porcelain and ceramics in our article dedicated to the topic.
What that means is if you have planters made of ceramic, or you’re simply not sure if they’re able to handle freezing, it might be a good idea to bring them inside until you’re sure it won’t freeze anymore. It’s not just that type of material that will have a hard time in the cooler temperatures, but it is perhaps the material that is the most common where people forget to bring them inside. And then all of a sudden you don’t have a full planter anymore, but rather two broken pieces. Rather stay safe than sorry, right?
Make sure that you won’t have such nasty surprises in your garden, and that also includes actually making sure that you talk to the tile installers to make sure you’re not having material installed outside that isn’t capable of handling the cold weather.
Doing the steps listed below also ensures that you’re actually going to be getting the garden you want once it start getting warmer in the air again (pssst read our guide that contains a lot of super helpful gardening tips too). Preparation is always key, and it’s no different when it comes to your garden!
Whether you have a vegetable garden, or have a lot of beautiful plants, you’ll need to make sure that the ones that are left outside can in fact tolerate the colder whether. If you just recently turned your garage into a room and installed new windows in it, that’s the absolute most ideal place to store it. It won’t be cold, in the way, and there will also be some light with those beautiful new windows. Otherwise, a normal garage or basement will also be sufficient, although plants will usually appreciate all the sun they can get. If you’re afraid that it’s going to be too cold where it will be placed, one trick is to add mulch around the plant which will help it keep its comfortable temperature, and you can even go a steps further and wrap it with bubble wrap (assuming you didn’t pop it immediately, like I would if I got a package that had it!) It’s, however, best to do if you’re only expecting the cold temperature to last a short period of time. Once you cover an area of grass, the grass will eventually fail due to lack of sun.
To help give your garden the best possibilities for getting prepared for spring, you should have leaves removed, and if there are other things that are covering your lawn, those should also be removed too.
Now’s the time that you need to do something to get rid of those weeds that you have been neglecting for too long. If not, a lot of them can and will make it through the winter and guess what the first thing is you will see once warmer weather comes around? Yes, you got that right.
It’s generally a good time to use mulch, which can help improve the soil too. Mulch can also help get rid of weeds, and more importantly revitalized the soil. It’s not only good to help with the roots of the plants in your planters, it can help all the roots of your different plants.
Cut trees and plants, including perennials and give them a fresh start if they’re not looking too good. This way they won’t be pumping a lot of energy into branches that weren’t going to make it anyway.
It’s also a good time to make sure that the earth is full of sufficient amounts of moisture, so that the dry and perhaps lack of precipitation doesn’t cause issues. It’s especially important if you have been going through a dry fall, so turn up that irrigation system and give everything a good amount of water too. Another important reason why watering will be a good idea is that it actually helps retain a lot of heat too. Yes, if the soil is moist it won’t cool nearly as quickly, and your roots will be happy about that.
Lamps that emit a lot of heat can be placed close to trees and help provide heat, which in turn lowers the potential risk of frost, although they should naturally be placed so that they don’t provide any sort of danger, which could be the case if you either have small curious kids, a pet, or have placed covering around plants..
If you don’t have the possibility to take the plants inside, one thing that can provide some help too is by putting them next to each other, which also helps keep the heat.
Tip: If you’re planting succulents, you should really consider doing so in containers because most of them won’t be able to withstand the colder temperatures.
When better weather comes around, only then should you consider removing the parts that may have been damaged by the colder weather. By waiting that long, you’re giving the parts a fighting chance that might’ve initially looked like the winter was too rough on them.
Frost is a serious problem for a lot of plants because it hinders their movement of fluids, and darker leaves can start showing as a consequence. There’s a bunch of different things that can be done in order to protect plants against frost, and we only briefly touched upon some of them, but be sure to keep reading at Dengarden for more ideas, including strategically using water jugs.
If you have recently planted trees or shrubs, you may want to give them new places to be that will allow them to not have to fight the harsher winter conditions. If they have been around for a longer period of time, giving them a fertilizer is also an idea.
Take this time to also address any potential branches that could cause damage to your home in case they break. The potential added weight from snow might cause issues, and if a heavy branch hits the home, could leave you with a situation you don’t want to deal with. Especially not in the middle of the winter. n
The Rest of Your Home
Your garden is not the only place that needs to be prepared for those upcoming frost dates. There are also things you will need to do inside and around the home. You don’t want to suddenly be feeling the consequences of an HVAC system that wasn’t properly maintained. The fall is the best time to get it maintained by a professional HVAC contractor. If you have radiant floor heating installed, it can also be a good time to turn it on just to make sure it’s operating smoothly.
Weather stripping plays an important part of insulating your home and make sure you’re not wasting money on heating the home just to have it escape through leaks different places in the home. Those air leaks can otherwise end up costing you significant amounts of money.
Doors, vents, fans, plumbing, electrical lines and windows are some of the places that you should revisit to make sure they’re not just letting out all the warm air (and cold air in the summer for that matter).
Gutters have been installed so that they can help you lead the water away from the house, but they’ll have a much harder time doing so if they’re clogged, and the fall is therefore the best time to make sure they aren’t and have them cleaned. If they’re moist and start freezing, it’s just bound to create more problems. When you’re having your roof inspected, make sure to also pay attention to the gutters.
Better insulation in your attic can also help provide protection against ice dams as these can not only weaken the roof but also become very dangerous should they end up falling on top of someone, and it also helps prevent leaks in the roof too.
Make sure you’re ready for serious amounts of snow and what it can do to your roof. When layers of snow keep piling on top of each other, it very quickly starts getting extremely heavy, and having a rake ready that can help remove all that additional weight in order to keep it from damaging your property. When more than 4 feet of snow accumulates on your roof, you should start being concerned about the potential impact from all that weight.
It’s also always a good idea to make sure that you have the necessary food in case you happen to get snowed inside your home. While a snow warning will usually be apparent, it’s a good idea to not be the last person at the grocery store to get the necessities, so you might want to make sure you can get by should the snow suddenly start falling really fast.
By being prepared, you won’t have to suddenly rush to make sure you don’t go starving due to lack of preparation.
Taking active steps to avoid the possible consequences of water damage is also important, and that includes making sure your pipes are doing alright and won’t face problems, which in fact means that it could be a really good financial decision that you keep the heat on, or at least partly, even if you go traveling. It’s better than coming home to a house that is under water. While you’ve always been encouraged to turn off the water, letting it drip can also be another measure that helps in ensuring that they don’t accidentally burst during the cold winter, and they’re also yet another place in your home that deserves to be properly insulated. This will also minimize the heat loss and give you warm water faster the places where you’re needing it.
First and Last Frost Dates by Zip Code
While your best bet is still to keep up with what the weather forecast is saying, there are tools out there that will give you the expected first and last frost dates, and all you have to do is simply enter your zip code.
These tools will give you a variety of data, including the expected range in which frost is uncommon. For instance, when you put in a zip code from New York, like 10005, they estimate the amount of frost-free days, which for that postal code they estimate is right around 185 days, and that the first frost day tends to be around October 20 and the last one being around April 18.
You can try these tools out yourself, and then you can always set an alarm around the first day, or maybe even a couple of weeks in advance that you should make sure to check the weather forecast to stay on top of it.