Hard frosts are not far away now for most gardeners, and they can be a problem in your garden. While the first, lighter frosts often don't affect your plants all that much, it's the ground frosts that pose a real risk, because they freeze the ground and not just the air.
Learning how to protect plants from frost is essential for all but the hardiest of plant species once the ground frosts hit, but there is one surprising trick that will help you either prevent the ground from freezing, or at least reduce the effects.
A top expert tip for preventing garden soil from freezing
This may sound counterintuitive, but our gardening experts recommend watering plants even through frosty weather in order to prevent the soil from freezing. Nikki McAteer, manager at My Perfect Plants (opens in new tab), a family-owned plant nursery based in North Florida, says that 'the best way to stop soil from freezing would be to continue watering even through winter.'
Not only will watering your plants prevent the ground from freezing, but it will also help support your plants' root systems. 'Plants need water year round, even when temperatures are freezing,' points out Nikki.
Emilly Barbosa Fernandes, a small space gardener from California and a consultant at HouseGrail (opens in new tab), agrees, further explaining that water 'holds heat longer protecting the air near the soil.' However, she warns gardeners not to overdo it – 'do not soak the ground because this will cause it to freeze; just a bit of water is all you need.' You want the ground to be moist but not soggy.
Moreover, you should keep watering plants even after they've apparently been killed by a frost. Be patient and keep watering them as part of your winter garden jobs –you might be surprised to discover that they will bounce back.
You can also forget everything you've been told about not watering your plants at night – that only applies to summer gardens. If a frost is forecast, go ahead and water your plants thoroughly the night before, as this will give you the coveted insulating effect.
This is a simple and reliable way to reduce frost damage to your plants – and, even better, it's compeltely free.
Anna is a keen urban gardener, with David Austin roses and Japanese acers among her favourite plants. She moved into the world of interiors from academic research in the field of literature and urban space a couple of years ago. She's always been interested in how people make houses into homes, and how our concepts of what's stylish change over time.
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