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WaterSaver newsletter
Monday, January 19, 2009 Back to Issue Archive
Prepare Your Landscape for a Freeze
By Juan Soulas

Protect in-ground plants from freeze by draping them with bed sheets, burlap or newspaper — all of which allow moisture to escape, but keep the cold air from coming in direct contact with the plants.

Freeze events in San Antonio are few and far between, but when it does occur you need to be prepared to protect your most vulnerable plants. A good healthy plant, one that's been watered appropriately and has a well-developed root system, stands a better chance of surviving freezing weather than a distressed plant. Soft woody plants, active bloomers, and potted plants, in particular, are more susceptible to freezes than others. Potted plants can be moved to a protective space, but for in-ground plants good preparation is the key for survival in the event of a freeze.

The first reaction by many is to water plants just before a freeze. This is a misconception. Extensive watering 12 hours to 24 hours ahead of a freeze is not protective. For residential landscapes, use bed sheets, burlap, or newspaper to drape and protect plants. There are commercial coverings designed to do the same thing, but they are much costlier.

Though plastic is also an option, it is not recommended by many experts because the material doesn't breathe and it traps moisture which may compound the freezing problem if cold temperatures persist. You would also need to make sure the plastic does not make contact with the plant. If it does, the plant will freeze. A fabric covering allows moisture to escape and keeps the cold air from coming in direct contact with the plant. Bed sheets work well for protecting large plants and shrubs, and newspaper can be used for smaller, low-to-the-ground plants.

Friday, May 23, 2014
0 in. Bermuda (Full Sun)
0 in. Buffalo (Full Sun)
0 in. St. Augustine (Full Sun)
0 in. St. Augustine (Shade)
0 in. Zoysia (Full Sun)
0 in. Zoysia (Shade)
Use these amounts to water this evening after 8 p.m. or tomorrow morning before 10 a.m. Remember, it's winter. For a healthy lawn, water no more than twice a month, or less if you have drought tolerant grass.
Rain benefits continue this week with established plants. No water necessary. Hand water newly planted plants. Donna Fossum, SAWS Conservation Planner.

Ask A Garden Geek
What is oak wilt and how can it be prevented?
Oak wilt is a fungus that inhibits water movement in oak trees, essentially causing the tree to die of thirst. It affects all oaks, but some are resistant to the disease. Texas red oak and blackjack oak produce a beetle-borne form of the fungus which infects other oaks. In live oaks, the disease moves tree to tree through interconnected roots. To prevent the disease, spray all fresh wounds with paint, especially from February to June.
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What makes ideas from SAWS refreshing?
It's all about thinking beyond what is expected.
Discover Refreshing Ideas or, share some of your own at
Seasonal Star
Yaupon Holly
(Ilex vomitoria v.
"Pride of Houston")
There are so many great holly plants to choose from for every space in your landscape. Pride of Houston is especially shiny with its evergreen leaves and bright red berries (on female plants) during winter. It can be grown into a tall hedge along fences or as an understory plant.
Past Peak
Feather Grass
(Nasella tenuissima)
Mexican feather grass is a fairly recent addition to ornamental grass choices. It adds texture and interest as they sway with the breeze. Feather grass thrives in dry, neglected areas, but will die off in the winter as most grasses do. Leave the dead tops in place or give it a "hair cut" in late winter or early spring.
Event Calendar
Water Saving Ways
Feb. 7 9 - 11 a.m.
Mitchell Lake
Audubon Center
10750 Pleasanton Rd.
Charles Bartlett, owner of Green Haven Industries, Inc. shares his advice for soil preparation, planting, and mulching. Learn about fertilizing, planting techniques, and drought tolerant plants for San Antonio. Lots of free samples to take home!
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