Garden Recovery After a Hard Freeze

Landscapes may look pretty bad before they begin to recover, and while signs of freeze damage may be evident, it does not always look the same on all plants. Be patient, and do not go straight for the pruners to cut everything back. Following extended freezing temperatures, it may take
several days or weeks before plants fully reveal the damage done. If plants are slimy or mushy, remove those parts to prevent disease or fungal infection.

With woody plants, you can check for life by scratching the bark on the stems to see if it is green underneath. If you find green, your plant is still alive. Wait until spring when the new growth appears before pruning out damaged branches. As for broadleaf evergreens, you might see some partial defoliation, or at least leaf discoloration. Again, do not start pruning now; wait until new spring growth emerges and cut out branches that don’t leaf back out. Ideally, plants will shed damaged leaves and new ones will
emerge this spring. If limbs do not leaf out by April, repeat the scratch test and go from there.

To give your plants a boost this Spring, feed the soil with compost and add a slow-release fertilizer. Make sure your plants receive adequate watering and apply a new layer of mulch around the plant base to protect the soil. Avoid mulch coming in direct contact with the plant.