Oh, SNAP! As in cold snap…
Winter came back – at night anyway.
Many parts of Georgia are expected to dip below freezing overnight several times over the next 2 weeks. But spring bulbs are up and the redbuds, cherries, Bradford pears, saucer magnolias and other trees have been blooming like crazy.
The recent warm weather may have also woken your warm season lawn from its winter dormancy. Frost and freezing temperatures can damage new growth down to the cellular level. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to protect your awakening lawn and shrubbery from serious harm.
Take anything potted inside
If you have potted accent plants, bring them inside on nights when temperatures are expected to dip below freezing. If the pots are too heavy to easily bring in, cover the plants with a bed sheet to keep frost from collecting on the surface of your plant.
Cover up what you cannot move
If you have newly planted shrubs, annuals, perennials, or ornamental grasses, cover them with bed sheets, lightweight blankets, or sheets of newspaper before sunset. Keeping them covered serves two purposes – to keep frost from accumulating directly on the plant’s exposed surfaces, and to keep in the heat the plant naturally generates as water evaporates during sugar metabolism. Uncover the plants once the sun is up and temperatures are above freezing.
Stay off the grass
If your lawn has that frosty look, stay off! Frost on the blades means that some of the water inside the leaves may be frozen, too. These crystals expand and act like little spikes that can cause significant damage inside if the blades are compressed by footprints from you, your kids, or your pets. The good news is that these “light freezes” do not freeze the soil, so your turf’s roots are likely to remain unharmed. (Unlike a “hard freeze” that does impact the soil, too.)
Water your lawn during the night before a freeze is predicted
It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s scientifically sound. A deep watering before a freeze soaks the soil and encourages slow evaporation through the blades as part of the plant’s natural metabolism. This evaporation creates enough friction and heat to keep the blades closest to the ground above the freezing point. The tips may brown and die back a little, but the grass underneath will remain healthy and grow in quickly once you begin mowing again.
Frost damage can be significant, especially in the shady areas of your property where temperatures take longer to rise above freezing. Taking precautions like those above can help reduce damage.
If you do notice large areas of dieback over the next few weeks, contact one of our turf specialists today and we can help you figure out the best way to repair your lawn with a certified turfgrass patch.