Protecting Your Plants and Garden From Frost

Atlantans live at a moderate latitude and at a higher elevation than the vast majority of American cities, so one of the benefits of living here is our change of seasons.

But winter can damage your carefully cultivated plantings if left completely to the elements. Here are a few suggestions (courtesy of and the University of Georgia Extension Service) to help you protect your plants and winter vegetables when air temperature below 39 degrees or freezing weather is expected.

  1. Bring Potted Plants Inside: plants in containers have air circulating all around them, so they are very vulnerable to icing conditions. Take them into your garage or a basement as a significant change could also hurt them. Try to water the afternoon prior to the cold weather, too, so that they’re nourished but less susceptible to freezing around the roots.

  2. Add Mulch: This one takes some planning and effort ahead of time, but a good 3-4 inch layer of hardwood mulch, grass clippings, or pinestraw will help protect roots by limiting heat loss from the soil.

  3. Cover ‘em Up: Particularly useful for larger beds of lettuces and cabbages (or even those late summer flowers you just don’t have the heart to remove), use bedsheets or carboard boxes as air covers when dusk begins. You’ll need to remove these soon after sunrise the next day as the retained heat needs to escape. Plastic sheeting is NOT recommended as the plants foliage can be readily damaged by the plastic.

  4. Move The Air: If you have prized citrus trees or ornamental plants, you can go all out and put a box fan or two outside to keep the air moving around them. The air circulation, amazingly, can increase by 2 – 7 degrees with regular air movement!

Here in North Buckhead, we’re extremely fortunate to have tremendous conditions to support a wide variety of plants, flowers and vegetables. Keep them healthy and prepared for the upcoming spring!