Pro Tips for Post Freeze Landscape Care

Traditionally, January and February are the coldest months in South Florida. Boy, have we experienced that this year! Landscape can be damaged when temperatures drop or fall below freezing. However, most frost damaged landscapes can easily recover with a little TLC. Follow our steps to help nurse your landscape back to health and prepare for the upcoming spring season.

Diagnose the Damage
Frost damaged plants usually have droopy and discolored leaves. Sometimes they even appear “burnt” with brown, white, yellow or red discoloration on the leaves. You can assess damage by using your fingernail to scrape the bark off. Cold damaged branches and trunks will be black or brown when bark is removed, while cold injured branches and trunks will still be green.

Don’t Fertilize
Although you may feel the need to give your droopy and burnt landscape a boost of nutrients through fertilizer, it is best to wait until spring. A post-freeze fertilizer application will stimulate new growth, but that new, tender growth will fall victim to the elements if we get more cold weather.

Trimming and Pruning
The cardinal rule for trimming and pruning post-freeze is: less is more. Your landscape has already suffered enough, do not go overboard with the clippers. Wait a few weeks and monitor temperatures to make sure cooler weather has passed. Although unsightly, the dead or damaged foliage can actually help insulate plants from future frost damage. New, green growth will begin to sprout in a few weeks, which will act as a guide for where to trim and prune. When pruning palms or trees, leave as much green as possible. If green is hard to come by, leave about half the damaged fronds or branches, while removing the other half, and wait for new green to sprout in the spring, before removing the remainder of the frost damage.

Protect from Disease
Frost damaged landscape does not look appealing at this point, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s dead. Your landscape is weakened though, which can make it more susceptible to pests and disease. You can help protect it, while on the road to recovery, with these Big Earth products:

Liquid Copper Fungicide is a broad-spectrum fungicide that controls diseases caused by bacteria and fungi. An application once per week can help prevent powdery mildews, downy mildews, leaf and fruit spots, blights, rust and fruit rots. Organic and safe for use on ornamentals, lawns, roses, fruits and vegetables.

Yeti Trax®: Liquid Trax is an organic nutritional, specifically formulated to stimulate root growth, reduce plant stress and improve overall plant vitality.

Fertilome Systemic Drench for Tree and Shrub helps protect landscape now, before pests move in, by providing year-long insect protection. Once applied, Fertilome Systemic Drench for Tree and Shrub moves down through the soil, is absorbed by the roots of the plant or tree and moves up through the plant or tree. It even protects new growth as your landscape begins to recover from the freeze.

Overseed with Rye

Does your brown, burnt lawn have you feeling down? Now is the perfect time to overseed with rye grass; It is the perfect solution for frost damaged lawns. As long as the temperatures are still consistently below 85-90 degrees, rye seed can be used to overseed your permanent (currently brown) lawn like bahia, St. Augustine, Zoysia or Bermuda with green color to get you through the remaining cooler weeks. Once temperatures begin to warm up, rye grass will die out and your permanent lawn will take over once again.

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…easier said than done, right? After you’ve assessed your landscape and completed light trimming or pruning, step back and wait until temperatures warm up before tackling all of the winter damage in your landscape. Nature will do its job and sprout new, green growth and your landscape will be on the up and up before you know it.