In a climate like the one that exists here in the Jackson area, winter weather is a reality of gardening that needs to be considered. It’s probably a lot simpler to be a gardener in a mild location like Florida or California, but living in an incredible place like Jackson comes with some growing challenges. The hard freeze we get in this part of the world is a piece of the puzzle that you’ll need to consider, and we’ll take a closer look at this topic below.
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The freezing point of water – 32* Fahrenheit – is common knowledge. When the temperature dips down to 32*F or below, water can begin to freeze, and that can have various types of consequences for everything from people to plants and beyond. As a gardener, you might know that some of your plants are vulnerable to cold weather, so a forecast that includes temperatures dipping down below freezing may be cause for concern.
But it’s not as simple as seeing a temperature at 32*F and assuming that problems are coming for your plants. In fact, if you watch the weather closely here in the Jackson area, you’ll know that early morning temperatures around 32*F are not uncommon at all. Even on days when the high is going to head up into the 70s, it’s still possible for the thermometer to drop to 32*F before the sun rises.
Generally speaking, having the temperature drop quickly to the freezing level for a short period of time is not a big deal. That’s not going to be enough to severely damage most plants growing in Jackson, and it certainly isn’t going to cause a pond to freeze over or anything like that. For this reason, the concept of a “hard freeze” was developed to offer a more accurate definition of what kind of weather should be concerning to gardeners and others.
A hard freeze occurs when the temperature gets down to 28*F and then stays under the freezing mark for at least a few hours. With these kinds of temperatures, it’s more likely that plants will be harmed and standing water may start to freeze. It’s this kind of weather that is more worthy of your attention and planning if you want to protect your landscaping.
As mentioned above, pre-dawn temperatures can dip down to the freezing level in Jackson quite often, even on mild days. But that kind of short-term freezing weather is not a real risk factor for a hard freeze. For the conditions to be right for a hard freeze, the days need to start to get shorter, as happens in the fall and into winter. Then, there are enough dark hours for the temperatures to fall and stay low for several hours before the sun comes up and returns some warmth to the atmosphere. Of course, once winter is in full swing, hard freezes will become the norm, and temperatures below freezing can easily last for weeks at a time.
As a gardener, you’ll need to plan for these types of cold conditions and take steps to protect any vulnerable plants you might have on your property. For one thing, you want to make sure not to water aggressively before the first hard freeze of the year. Having too much water on the ground and in the top layers of the soil when the freeze arrives can do damage to plants and the surrounding landscaping. Also, add some mulch to your beds for insulation and wrap up any plants that are susceptible to severe damage from the freezing weather. Do your best to monitor the forecast so you can safely finish up these tasks before the cold temperatures move in.
Whether you love the arrival of winter or you can’t wait for the warm temperatures to return, planning for this time of year will get your landscaping safely through to the other side. We hope this discussion on the impacts of a hard freeze on gardening has helped clarify the topic, and our team will be happy to help with any other issues when you reach out.
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“The best friend on earth of man is the tree: when we use the tree respectfully and economically we have one of the greatest resources of the earth.”
– Frank Lloyd Wright