Keeping plants alive in winter months is a skill in and of itself. Some plants love colder climates, while others simply cannot survive in frosty conditions.
At best, exposed flowers and plants may simply regress to their roots, before re-emerging when the weather becomes favourable; at worst, the plant is killed entirely. If you’re fed up of replanting half your garden the second a drop of snow arrives, this guide is for you.
In this article, we’ll explain how to keep your garden safe from cold, snowy weather. We’ll cover which plants will need protection, the tools you can use to do it effectively, and the best way to get the job done.
Which Plants Need Snow Protection?
Thankfully, you don’t have to go around covering every inch of your garden to keep it safe. There are some plants, called tender plants, that need just a little more protection than most.
These tender plants are a mixture of both decorative flowers, as well as more functional items like fruit and veg that simply cannot be exposed to the cold no matter the time of year.
So, if you’re concerned about what plants to cover in a freeze warning, here are a few of the most vulnerable:
- Tree ferns
- Pineapple lilies
DIY Snow and Frost Protection Equipment List
Thankfully, snow and frost protection doesn’t demand the use of expensive equipment. You can accomplish much the same functionality you’d usually get from store-bought items by repurposing older possessions. Here are some of the tools you may be able to find around your home to protect your plants this year:
- Empty water bottles: The larger the better in this case. Jugs of around 4-5 litres are best as these are usually wider and can be cut to accommodate larger plants.
- Plastic bags: Translucent plastic bags are preferable for this purpose, as they allow you to always keep an eye on how your plants are doing.
- Masking tape: While masking tape doesn’t serve a functional anti-frost/snow purpose, it does allow you to tape up any loose ends to prevent loss of insulation.
- Bubble wrap: Not only is bubble wrap great for storing delicate packages, it can even be used to lock in heat to your plants. Bubble wrap provides some structural benefits too, protecting plants against the odd unexpected knock from a gust of wintery wind.
Will Cardboard Boxes Protect Plants from Frost?
Due to the corrugated, honeycomb-like internal texture of cardboard, it actually makes quite an effective piece of equipment for plant frost protection. While you may need larger boxes that are sometimes hard to come by, there’s nothing stopping you from recycling a cardboard box and using it as a makeshift sheath for your most delicate plants.
One thing to bear in mind is that cardboard isn’t the most hard-wearing of materials and is prone to folding away from excess water exposure. So, we highly recommend not using cardboard if rain is likely to come.
Because of how easily manipulated it is, using cardboard for frost protection is a straightforward process:
- Measure your plant(s) and cut cardboard to size.
- Make openings on either end of the piece to allow for airflow.
- Place over your desired plant(s) and add weighting to keep the cardboard in place.
As an additional measure, you could even apply some form of waterproof coating on top in the form of tarp. However, at this point, you’re probably better off investing in some purpose-made, re-usable solutions.
How to Protect Plants from Snow and Frost Damage
With your equipment gathered and determination in order, it’s time to start protecting your precious plants. Here’s how:
Timing is Everything
As with any gardening practice, your effectiveness is usually dictated by how well you time things. To which, snow and frost protection is no different.
You’ll want to choose a day that’s warm enough for you to function, while still being cold enough to determine which of your plants shall be most affected by the incoming weather. This allows you to finish all the work you need, while also accurately predicting which plants need the most help.
Double-Check Your Work
Weather is unforgiving at the best of time. Be it a leak inside a house or an unrelenting heatwave, there is no reasoning with nature.
Because of this, we strongly recommend you double, triple, maybe even quadruple check your covering job before calling it a day. Even the smallest ingress point can allow cold weather to seep into your plants and undermine all the hard work you’ve just done.
Move Plants Indoors, if Possible
While this step may not be applicable in every scenario, it’s one that certainly goes without saying. When possible, take your plants indoors for the winter. Flower beds, potted trees/plants can all be moved around with relative ease, so take this opportunity and save yourself the headache of protecting outdoor plants this season.
Wear the Right Clothing
Never underestimate how long this seemingly simple task will take. Roadblocks can crop up from all angles, be it an unexpectedly dying plant or a mismatched piece of protective equipment, there are likely to be a few time-consuming problems that you’ll have to solve.
With this work mainly taking place in the winter, it’s important to ensure that your body is as protected as your plants. The longer you’re out in the cold, the greater the risk of hypothermia becomes. So, wrap yourself up in warm, waterproof clothes, and take frequent indoor breaks to heat yourself up.
Does Garden Furniture Need Protection From Snow?
Just like your plants, you should never forget about your precious garden furniture in snowy or frosty conditions.
While many pieces are built to withstand all sorts of weather conditions, it helps to give them an additional fighting chance against the elements.
Using correctly sized protective covers is one way to combat the frost, but keeping cushions stored away in dedicated areas is a much more effective solution. That’s why we recommend the use of garden storage boxes, specifically those that are made out of tough materials like aluminium.
Not just for cushions, these units can be used to store your tools, parts, and any loose pieces hanging around your garden that you’d like to protect. Just be sure to place them in the right spot away from direct sunlight.
Is Your Garden In Need of Help?
Now that your garden is protected this winter, you may be wondering how to get it ready for hours of fun in the sun.