How to Protect Your Garden from Frost

Frost on berries.

When you work hard growing, maintaining, and harvesting plants, fruits, and vegetables in your garden, it’s natural to worry about it over the winter. After all, you don’t want all of your time and energy to be reversed due to cold temperatures. Luckily, there are ways to protect your garden from the dangers that frost presents during the cold weather.

What Is Frost?

Frost is a common occurrence as the weather gets colder, but sometimes it’s easy to get confused with other weather conditions. Frost occurs when it’s a clear night and the temperature approaches freezing. This causes the surface temperature of plants to dip below the freezing mark, which is what causes what we know as frost. This is characterized by ice crystals that are white in color. It’s important to remember that this can occur with temperatures that are above freezing.

Protecting Plants and Gardens from Frost

Frost on vegetables.

Now it’s time to discuss how to actually protect plants and gardens from frost. Since these temperatures and conditions are unavoidable in many areas, it’s important to know what to do before the cold weather strikes.

Cover Your Garden

Covering your garden may not look all that glamorous, but it is effective in helping protect against frost. This doesn’t have to be with anything fancy — newspaper, cardboard, or even bed sheets will do the job just fine. First, lay sticks on top of your garden if you have some available. If not, lay the covers directly on the plants. This is best done before dusk in order to trap the heat where you want it to stay. It’s important here to ensure that the covers extend down to the soil on all sides. Once the morning comes and the frost around the area has thawed, you can safely remove the covers.

Adequately Water Plants

A woman covers frosted plants.

It may sound counterproductive, but watering plants before a frost actually helps them avoid freezing. This is because wet soil releases moisture into the air and raises the temperature, naturally keeping plants warmer.

Bring Plants Indoors

If you have any potted plants that are easy to transport, bring them into garages, basements, or even inside your home for cold nights. This is an easy and essentially fool-proof way to protect them from the cold weather.

Use Water Jugs

Frost on leaves.

Before expected cold days, fill plastic jugs with water and place them in the sun all day long to warm up. Once dusk hits, place the jugs strategically around plants and then place a cover on top of the entirety of the space. These jugs will retain heat for longer and will emit their temperature to help keep plants warm throughout the night.

Design Your Garden in Raised Beds

Raised bed gardens are typically easier to protect against a frost than those planted directly into the ground. This is because cold air tends to collect more easily and in a quicker fashion than in sunken areas than it does in higher mounds. Additionally, having raised beds makes it easier to cover plants when shielding a garden against frost.

Cluster Plants

Frost on red leaves.

Planting flowers or shrubs closer together makes it easier for plants to remain warm and protected in the event of cold evenings. If you have potted plants that you can’t or don’t wish to bring inside during cold evenings, place them close together to protect them against the cold.

Insulate with Mulch

Mulch is a good way to provide plants and soil with extra insulation to ensure that they’re protected in the event of a chill in the air. Spread a 2 to 4 inch blanket along the surface of the soil. If you don’t have mulch readily available, use shredded leaves or something else organic around the roots of plants.

These tips are relatively simple to carry out and they make a world of difference in protecting plants from frost.