How to Take Care of Outdoor Plants in Cold Weather

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For the avid gardener, cold weather is a good reason to worry; plant foliage and roots can be damaged by extreme cold and even lead to the death of your plants. This can be discouraging after spending all spring and summer carefully grooming your yard into a lush garden. Several steps can be taken, however, to help protect your precious plants and keep them healthy during the cold season.

Things You'll Need

  • Metal stakes
  • Fabric
  • Mulch
  • Create a donut shape of mulch around your plant, as a circle of protection for the roots. Keep mulch 1 or 2 inches away from the trunk of the tree. Generously distribute the mulch, creating a 2-inch layer.

  • Cover broad-leaf plants. Drive four stakes into the ground surrounding the plant. The stakes should be placed at least 6 inches from the plant in order to give it room. Place breathable cloth over the stakes and ensure that no leaves of branches of the plant come in contact with the sheet. If your plant comes in contact with the cold fabric frost damage may still occur.

  • Remove damaged or dead branches from your tree during cold weather to relieve stress on the tree. Pruning these branches will also lead to a healthier, more vital tree next growing season.

  • Remove cloth coverings from plants as soon as the weather heats up. Leave the stakes in the ground in case the weather turns cold unexpectedly.

Tips & Warnings

  • Old sheets and burlap sacks can be recycled and used to cover plants in winter instead of throwing them out. Not all trees are the same. Take the time to learn the needs of your particular tree before pruning or your tree may not benefit at all from your pruning.
  • Mulch may block moisture from reaching the roots of your plant. Water your plant regularly and always check the moisture in the soil. Check moisture levels at least once a month, even in the dead of winter. Do not use plastics to cover your plants. Covering plants with a trash bag or similar material may cause a slight greenhouse effect inside the covering. This will make the temperatures inside the covering change between hot and cold sporadically, damaging your plant.
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